Low inventory sparks part-time debate

by Olivia D'Orazio25 Sep 2014
Increasingly frustrated full-time agents are calling on industry associations to better police the activities of so-called “part-timers” as analysts project continuing declines in listings for key markets based on new stats.

“They’re taking the bread and butter out of the mouths of the full time agents,” says Andre Adams, a full-time Realtor with Re/Max in Toronto. “I don’t know if [associations] can do anything – maybe if something is done by law.”

That kind of frustration is now being voiced by a growing number of agents as they digest the news that real estate listings on CREA actually fell over the summer for Canada’s two largest markets. They held national increases to less than one per cent for August, with Vancouver suffering a 6.5 per cent drop and in Toronto, a slide of four per cent.

The lingering hope about a pickup in activity for the fall is being dashed by market analysts pointing to tepid employment growth and growing concern about a possible increase in interest rates. Still, Realtors are themselves complaining that the active spring market actually encouraged a number of part-time agents back into the market to troll for business that is no longer there.

That’s a problem for both full-time agents and their clients, says Adams, who, among others wants the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) to better police part-timers.

“They’re just inefficient,” he says. “I can never get a hold of them until after hours.”

But the regulatory body that oversees all agents in that province – says there’s not much in its mandate to prohibit part-timers.

“Our mandate is to promote consumer protection,” Bruce Matthews, the deputy registrar of regulatory compliance for RECO tells REP. “Our main focus is to ensure that everyone is qualified – whether full time or part time.”

Full-time agents are nonetheless pointing to bad client experiences with part-timers, mainly because of a lack of availability and inadequate experience. Although, that may be nothing more than anecdotal.

As long as the part-time Realtor informs his or her clients of his or her limited availability, RECO finds no issue with part-timers.

“There is nothing in the legislation that speaks to full-time versus part-time or to minimum service levels,” Matthews says. “Everybody has to follow the same rules and everyone is accountable for their actions, regardless of their distinction of full time or part time.”

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