British Columbia is planning to create a single agency tasked to regulate the province's real estate industry, as part of its efforts to curb money laundering that has been pushing up housing prices.
The move will see the merging of the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) with the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE) and the Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC).
The BCFSA, which was established early this month, was initially tasked with regulating mortgage brokers, private pension plans, and financial institutions. Under the changes, it will also be assigned to oversee real estate licensing, conduct, and investigations.
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The provincial government is planning to put the merger into law late next year, with the new real estate watchdog commencing its operations by the spring of 2021.
"But it will take some time to transition to make sure that the Crown corporation is ready to take on that responsibility. We also need to give the financial services agency some time to get up and running," Finance Minister Carole James told The Vancouver Sun.
In the meantime, regulations in the real estate sector will remain the joint responsibility of the OSRE and the RECBC. James said these two institutions will be ordered to work more closely.
"It's not that the systems in place aren't doing their job. We believe there are efficiencies to be gained from having them under a single regulator," she said.
BC has been leading Canada's crackdown on spiralling home costs, according to a Bloomberg report. In 2016, a scandal involving "shadow flipping" ended the self-regulation of the real estate industry. The practice, which involves brokers earning multiple commissions by helping properties trade hands repeatedly before a deal closes, has resulted in inflated prices, especially in Vancouver.