Could Alberta follow Quebec’s FSBO lead?

by Olivia D'Orazio31 Dec 2014
Don’t count your chickens just yet, Albertans! The western province’s real estate association says it, too, will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of a Quebec lawsuit against a major FSBO.
“We’ve definitely been watching but I’m anxious to see how it all unfolds,” Brad Kopp, the president of the Alberta Real Estate Association, tells REP. “I think it’s something we’re keeping an eye on and watching with interest, and will evaluate as we see what unfolds. We’re just watching it as opposed to jumping directly in or keeping right out.”
Earlier this month, the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB) announced its plans to sue DuProprio, a major FSBO in the province, for its misleading advertising, unfair competition and unenforceable guarantees, the board said.
“All we are seeking is for the court to order that misleading ads put up by DuProprio be withdrawn,” said lawyer Éric Vallières of the Montreal law firm McMillan, which is representing the QFREB. “We’re not saying they shouldn’t be in business. We’re just saying they shouldn’t run this ad campaign.”
However, DuProprio claims the lawsuit is more than a shot at its advertising campaigns. In a press release, the company said the QFREB’s lawsuit is “another attempt orchestrated by the real estate brokerage industry … to deprive consumers of the freedom to choose the service that best suits them when it comes to selling their property.”
In Alberta, Kopp said FSBOs haven’t become a big enough issue to warrant such drastic action. But agents on the ground seem to disagree.
“I hope the lawsuit is successful and that CREA and all the boards are watching carefully,” Michael Gouchie, a broker in Lacombe, Alta., wrote in the REP forum. “Here in Alberta, we have a FSBO company doing pretty much the same thing. I would love to see a class action lawsuit launched against them.”
Unfortunately, filing a lawsuit is easier said than done. Despite the frustration faced by agents and clients alike, different business models – including FSBOs – are perfectly legal.
“I can see the where they’re coming from, but at the end of the day, you live in the world where there are a million different business models and as a professional association it’s tough to jump out and say that’s right or that’s wrong,” Kopp says. “Within Alberta, there are members who have differing business models and not everyone follows the traditional structures. We do represent realtors but that encompasses a big field of business models.”

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