The unintended impact of abolishing double-ended deals

by REP05 Jul 2017
The need to address double-ended deals is due to a few bad apples, according to one veteran, and new rules will likely punish certain agents more than others.

“Here’s the thing. It’s totally the result of a few bad apples. The majority of realtors are good, honest, fair people who do what’s right for their clients. However, we as an industry, have to keep consumers best interests at hearts,” Christopher Alexander, regional director at RE/MAX Ontario Atlantic Canada, told REP. “There are other provinces that have designated agency, which they are proposing, which could be a good thing. Our concern is large brokerages will be better off; the little guy in rural parts of Ontario that primarily double-ends for their business, that could be a challenge (and they will have to hire additional agents).”

Ontario is proposing banning the practice of double ending, in which a real estate agent represents both a buyer and a seller in a transaction.

The province's Liberal government announced a 16-point housing plan earlier this year, with centrepiece planks of a 15 per cent foreign buyer tax and expanded rent controls.

Another plank was reviewing the rules for real estate agents to ensure consumers are fairly represented. The government has now published several proposals for changes to real estate agent rules and penalties, and is seeking public consultation on them.

One of the proposals is to ban -- with some limited exceptions -- agents from representing both the buyer and seller or more than one potential buyer in a trade.

``The seller will want the highest possible price and most favourable terms they can get, and the buyer will want to pay the lowest price or negotiate the most favourable terms possible,'' a government discussion paper says.

``These competing interests may make it challenging for registrants involved in these types of transactions to meet their obligations to their clients or to be able to advocate effectively on behalf of either party.''

The Ontario Real Estate Association welcomed the review since the governing legislation dates back to 2002, said CEO Tim Hudak.

``The world of real estate has changed tremendously in the last 15 years _ much higher home prices, more sophisticated consumers, greater technology,'' he said.

Consumers have raised concerns that the financial incentives in double-ended deals might lead to agents engaging in unethical behaviour, the government says in its paper.

With a file from Canadian Press

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