New Real Estate Council appointed to ensure consumer protection

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new-councilVictoria: Government is appointing nine public-interest members to the Real Estate Council of British Columbia, increasing its accountability and objectivity in fulfilling its role of protecting the public interest, Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced today.

Robert D. Holmes is appointed as chair of the council. Holmes brings a wealth of legal expertise to the council, having worked as a litigation and arbitration lawyer for more than 32 years. He also served as president of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., president of the BC Civil Liberties Association and on provincial council of the B.C. Branch of the Canadian Bar Association.

The B.C. government has taken significant action to protect real estate consumers and safeguard the public interest, overhauling the regulatory framework and strengthening oversight and accountability of the sector. Self-regulation of the industry is ended with these appointments. A second set of government-appointed members will follow.

The Real Estate Council of British Columbia is now one part of a broader system of organizations responsible for supervising the real estate industry. The council continues to be responsible for licensing, investigating complaints, enforcing licensee rules and disciplining licensees found to be breaching their obligations.

Newly appointed superintendent of real estate Mike Noseworthy will assume leadership of the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate on Oct. 19, 2016. Changes to the regulatory framework for the real estate industry increase the superintendent’s oversight of and authority over the council. These and other changes to the Real Estate Services Act to significantly strengthen consumer protection took effect on Sept. 30, 2016.

Other steps that are strengthening real-estate regulation include increasing the maximum penalty for misconduct to $250,000 from $10,000 for individual misconduct, and to $500,000 from $25,000 for brokerage misconduct, allowing for commissions from licensees and brokerages engaging in misconduct to be taken back to council for licensee and public education, transferring rule-making authority from council to the superintendent, and allowing owners to train and supervise licensees only if they themselves are licensees.

Premier Christy Clark has laid out six principles to guide government’s decisions in addressing housing affordability in the Lower Mainland:

  1. Ensuring the dream of home ownership remains within reach of the middle class
  2. Increasing housing supply
  3. Transit expansion
  4. Supporting first-time home buyers
  5. Ensuring consumer protection
  6. Increasing rental supply

A number of changes put in place by the provincial government are already working to help make housing more affordable for middle-class families, and further steps will be announced in the coming weeks.

To date, the Province has:

  • Committed $855 million this year to support the construction of rental housing throughout British Columbia, in addition to other housing affordability actions.
  • Implemented a 15% additional property transfer tax that applies to foreign purchasers of residential real estate in Metro Vancouver.
  • Strengthened consumer protection in British Columbia’s real estate market through increased oversight and accountability of real-estate licensees.
  • Introduced a luxury tax on properties that sell for more than $2 million.
  • Introduced a Newly Built Homes exemption, which has helped nearly 6,400 families save an average of $7,500 on their newly built homes.

Finance Minister Michael de Jong said: “As consumers, we expect to be treated fairly and with integrity, especially when making the important decision to purchase a home. These changes are part of government’s broader efforts to restore public confidence and trust in the system.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Real Estate Council of British Columbia’s mandate is to protect the public interest by enforcing the licensing and licensee conduct requirements of the Real Estate Services Act.
  • Government will appoint a total of 16 members to council. A second set of appointments will follow.
  • Members are appointed for terms ranging from one to two years.