Friday, May 23, 2014

Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection Minister Ron Lemieux along with Don Murray of the Manitoba Securities Commission (left) and Brian Collie of the Manitoba Real Estate Association (right) announce additional protection for consumers when buying or selling real estate.

May 20, 2014


– – –
Modernized Legislation would Protect Families, Ensure Level Playing Field for Real Estate Agents: Minister Lemieux

The Manitoba government is proposing legislation today that would ensure transparency and fair service for families when buying or selling homes, Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection Minister Ron Lemieux said.
“The Manitoba government will introduce new rules to ensure families get clear, fair service from real estate agents whenever they buy or sell a house,” Minister Lemieux said.  “A home is the biggest purchase most families make in Manitoba.  Our legislation will require agents to act in the best interests of families to protect their investments.”
The minister noted the housing market is constantly changing, which creates challenges for families as they buy or sell homes.  In some situations, homebuyers and sellers can face multiple bids or agents will represent both the buyer and the seller, which creates confusion over divided loyalties and uncertainty about what fees will be charged, he added.
The proposed real estate services act would address these and other concerns and would also ensure real estate agents are working on a level playing field, the minister said.  Steps to help protect families when buying or selling a home would include:
  • listing online all agents and any disciplinary findings against them, so prospective clients could search to confirm an agent is legitimate and if they have a clear record;
  • requiring a service agreement that explains the role of the agent in helping their client and an upfront agreement about the agent’s sales commission and fees;
  • requiring agents to tell home sellers of all offers on their home in multiple-offer situations;
  • requiring an agent representing the homebuyer and the seller to inform both clients of the possible conflict before a sale is finalized;
  • establishing a new code of conduct that would guide responsible services and avoid
    conflicts-of-interest, like the advertisements and marketing of homes-for-sale would have to be accurate and truthful, clients information would have to be kept confidential and agents would be required to disclose to clients if they have a personal or family interest in a sale;
  • establishing a stronger complaints and disciplinary process with broader disciplinary powers that would include mediation, suspension or termination of licence; and
  • increasing the range of maximum fines to $100,000 for agents and $500,000 for brokerages from the current rate of $1,000 for agents and $2,000 for brokerages, and agents could also face up to two years in jail for breaching the act.

Real estate agents and brokers are regulated by the Manitoba Securities Commission, but their existing legislation is more than 60 years old, the minister noted.

“We are pleased the Manitoba government is taking this initiative to modernize the real estate services act.  As a profession, we have provided considerable input, advice and recommendations over a number of years of consultation,” said Brian M. Collie, CEO, Manitoba Real Estate Association.  “Many of our recommendations are already implemented and we also look forward to continuing this partnership to ensure that buying and selling homes and properties in Manitoba is a positive community-building experience.  Organized real estate is privileged to hold this important role and responsibility.  We always want to strengthen the best consumer protection practices and to enhance our profession’s role in building a better Manitoba.”

More than 500 Manitobans participated in the province’s online consultation about their concerns regarding real estate services and how homebuyers and sellers should be treated.  The survey found:

  • the majority of participants agreed that agents explained their role and answered their questions;
  • agents were the most helpful in identifying defects in homes for potential buyers;
  • slightly more than half the participants felt their agent represented their best interests;
  • more than 20 per cent said their agent did not sign an agreement with them or explain their sales commission or fees upfront; and
  • more than half of homebuyers and sellers experienced multiple offers or a bidding war, but more than a third of those said their agent did not explain how that process works.

- 30 -

No comments: