New Legislation Proposed to Protect Consumers in Real Estate Transactions

There’s a proposal on the table right now that will affect sellers and real estate agents alike; and if it’s passed, it will increase protection for sellers that are trying to sell their home.

The new legislation proposes many changes to the buying and selling process as it is now, but only where that process involves the real estate agent, or agents. One of the proposals suggests that sellers can pay the 5 to 6 per cent in fees they pay to either the buying or the selling agent. The seller would be given the option of deciding how much help either Realtor was in the process, and then the fees can be split up between the two agents as the seller sees fit, based on the amount and quality of services received by either agent.

That proposal is set to help the newer online Realtors compete with the big firms. These smaller firms or individuals currently offer services that aren’t all bundled together, so sellers can pick and choose which services they’ll leave to the Realtor, and which they’ll get other help with or do it on their own. By doing so, real estate agents would be allowed to collect both a set fee and commissions, something they’re not allowed to do now. Rather, they must only accept one type of fee for any services provided.

But that’s not all the legislation is proposing to do. It also wants to get rid of “phantom bids” – bids in which a real estate agent simply tells a seller verbally that they have a potential buyer interested in the property. When that happens, it can cause a real sense of competition, and over-inflated bid from any other buyers who hear about competing offers, and don’t want to lose the home. Once a buyer is willing to overpay for a property, those verbal bids are nowhere to be seen, and someone is left paying much more for a property than they should have.

Tracy McCharles, the Consumer Services minister, said in a phone interview that this legislation was being proposed to make it fairer to the consumer, and to protect sellers as much as possible when selling their home; as well as buyers who are in the marketplace.

“There is some evidence of misleading and abusive practices in the marketplace,” she said in a phone interview earlier this week.

She went on to say that the proposed changes would also “provide consumers with greater choice in real estate services, and unleash greater competition and creative service offerings from real estate professionals.”