Consumer rights violated by changes to real estate regulations

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By MARIANNE HOBBS

In a few days — June 15 — the B.C. government plans to enact legislation regarding how real estate transactions are to be conducted in our province.

This act will have serious negative ramifications for us who live in smaller real estate jurisdictions. Under the proposed rules you will no longer be able to entrust the sale of your property to a chosen-by-you agent to oversee this sometimes stressful and sad, sometimes joyous and necessary, transaction from start to closing!

Furthermore, a deal may fall apart if any of the parties involved recognizes any person involved in the proceedings, even if the realtor did any business with an interested party a decade ago! In short, sellers will have to “import” an agent — say from Nanaimo — someone unknown and unfamiliar with Salt Spring’s water, septic, sewer and neighbourhood foibles.

Yes, in bigger areas there have been wrongs, yet, no mention, no censuring has been proposed to one important player in the transaction, the lawyer. It’s his job to dot the “i’s and “cross the t’s.” In the end, it is the real estate lawyer who advises his client whether he feels the deal is in his client’s best interests. Why is no mention made of or no sanctions placed on the lawyers? Why is the onus only placed on the agents?

Our local realtors are our neighbours, our friends. They support local charities, attend our churches, do business in our shops and restaurants. They even coach our kids. They deserve our support at this confusing and stressful time.

Although some may perceive them as “rich,” they are not. They put in untold, unpaid hours evaluating, preparing, hopefully listing, advertising and showing homes and, in the end, earn nothing if a deal collapses. Would you work for free?

Some say realtors drive prices up. Again, a false assumption. Both buyers and sellers are educated consumers. They already have a ballpark figure in mind, one they are willing to pay and willing to accept. The agent is the middle man, bringing both parties together to facilitate a conclusion acceptable to both parties.

Watch House Hunters for a week and you’ll discover that B.C. prices are not out of whack. Price is driven by simple economics: supply and demand. Homes in highly sought-after locations, those with the fabulous appliances, special counters and upgraded baths will garner more. It’s not the realtor’s doing!

Please, protect your rights as a consumer: support our realtors. Email Carole James at FIN.minister@gov.bc.ca and voice your opposition to this draconian piece of legislation. Tell her not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The writer is a Salt Spring resident.

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