Letter: Consumers, take heed of real estate changes

It’s never nice to be misunderstood. Words have power.  Once out there, they are sometimes hard to retract or repair.  They create a perception and form opinions.  And sometimes they paint a picture that is less than accurate.

As a realtor in a small community, I am indeed concerned about how the proposed changes by the Superintendent of Real Estate will play out.  At this point it seems as if the entire province has been painted with the same broad brush as the Vancouver area, something I don’t believe should have a one-size fits all solution.

We are hearing all kinds of scenarios, like the one Andru used in the January 25th article, “Real estate clamp down.”  Many of these are meant as illustrations as to just how many questions can arise from the shift away from Limited Dual Agency.  Some of these scenarios are concerning, yet little clarification within the industry is being given in response.  That said, anxiety is not “through the roof.”  Worst-case scenarios were what Andru and I had a conversation about, not realities.  The reality is that we just don’t know yet.  None of this may come to pass.  We’ll figure it out as we go.  Change can be difficult, but it can be managed.  I don’t believe it will mean I can’t work with someone.  I do believe it does fall strongly on the level of trust that exists between realtors and their clients – past or current.

So where are these changes coming from?  One of the focuses of the industry review has been on the “fiduciary” responsibility owed by a realtor to their client.  A part of this responsibility is the removal of perceived conflict.  In the literal application, the practice of working for both buyers and sellers in the same transaction is being removed (for the most part) in order to ensure that both parties have equal access to representation.  This is not a bad thing.  But the devil is in the details.  Perceived conflict is the issue I brought forward, trying to highlight how easily things can be interpreted differently.  If someone perceives that one side of a transaction has an unfair advantage, will this then put the deal in jeopardy?

The essence of my concern – and other realtors I have spoken with – is how do the upcoming changes affect our clients.  We wouldn’t be in business without you and we take pride and satisfaction in serving your needs.  Clients are the heart and soul of this industry.  Yet under the new regulations, there is the potential that your choices will be limited.  At what point will you not be able to work with the realtor of your choice?  Under the new rules, there are scenarios where you may have to be told to go shop elsewhere.

These changes have been legislated and will remain in effect until something causes legislation to change once more.   As realtors, we are all working hard to understand the implications so that we can then translate these shifts to our clients.  I am a big believer in consumer rights and awareness.  What I had hoped for from speaking with Andru is to bring to light a challenge to an industry that many of us connect with in our lifetimes.  Get informed.  Ask questions.  Advocate if something doesn’t feel right.  This is not a black and white issue.

I believe I speak for all my colleagues when I say we are proud of the work we do and the professionalism we bring to the table.  Let’s not remove that.

 

Shelly Battensby, real estate professional

Valemount, BC