The Ontario Real Estate Association is lobbying the provincial government to proscribe bully offers and enhance professional standards in an industry that does little to punish misbehaving agents.
“It’s about time,” said Rachel Hammer, team lead at Royal LePage Team Hammer & Associates. “I believe very strongly that one of the things we’re lacking in our industry is proper policing and enforcement.”
One reason Hammer believes the Real Estate Council of Ontario doesn’t punish unscrupulous sales agents is because there are no mechanisms in place to protect the identity of the person lodging the complaint.
“In order to file a complaint with RECO, you have to identify yourself. Well, we all work together in the same city and voicing a complaint that way puts a lot of people at risk, with regards to their business, which I believe is why a lot of people don’t speak up when they should. We have RECO there to do that, but the question is why don’t they properly police the industry.”
Hammer and innumerable other agents may finally get their wish.
“We’re looking for tougher enforcement,” said OREA’s Karen Cox. “Our regulator, the Real Estate Council of Ontario, should have the authority to proactively investigate the few bad offenders we have and kick them out if they break the rules in our profession. It would modernize the legislation governing the real estate profession, raise the professional standards, and it would be better for buyers and sellers.”
In addition to stricter penalties for untoward agents, OREA wants the Doug Ford government to revisit the 17-year-old Real Estate and Business Brokers Act and amend it to reflect the modern world. The association provided 28 recommendations, which include protecting consumers from unlicensed operators, better education, and an end to bully offers.
“We’re asking not to allow bully offers or pre-emptive offers to create more fairness in the home buying process,” said Cox. “It doesn’t mean it’s the best offer the seller will receive. They don’t know that because they haven’t received offers from interested parties and that really frustrates buyers because they haven’t had a chance to participate and that’s why we’ve recommended ending bully offers.”
However, while Hammer is glad to see OREA lobbying to remove bad apples, she doesn’t feel the same way about the association’s bid to have bully offers proscribed.
“Ultimately, our role as a realtor is to always do what our client instructs us, and if our client instructs us to present them an offer, then it’s our responsibility to do so,” said Hammer. “The question is, where’s the problem with the bully offer? In a seller’s market where there’s very little inventory, putting in a bully offer can be quite strategic to get our client, the buyer, what they’re looking for, which is the purchase of a home. I don’t believe any changes targeting bully offers will change the professionalism in the industry.”
Moreover, Hammer says that sellers can ignore bully offers if they wish.
“The current OREA form for seller directions and offer presentation allows realtors to explain to sellers their options to choose the right offer presentation they would prefer,” she said. “The no conveyance of offers option allows the seller not to even consider bully offers.”