Among British Columbia’s priorities this fall is the hiring of a new superintendent to “oversee the real estate industry,” and the Finance Ministry has officially begun interviewing candidates for the replacement of Carolyn Rogers, who recently moved to a new position in Ottawa after heading B.C.’s provincial financial services regulator.
The province is also planning an overhaul regarding real estate regulations and intends to implement up to 28 recommendations made by an independent panel of advisors. B.C.’s senior Finance Ministry staff is now in daily communication with the Real Estate Council and the real estate superintendent’s office to do so.
The independent panel was tasked with reviewing the “self-regulation” of the real estate industry, and by July it concluded that the Real Estate Council has become “dominated” by industry members who have been reluctant to take disciplinary action over the past ten years. They also deemed the current council “unprepared” to regulate such rapidly-changing business models, particularly the questionable relationship between real estate and speculative investment. The next day, Premier Christy Clark announced a commitment to implement the panel’s recommendations and regain control over industry regulations.
“Everybody just needs to have a little patience to have the transition take place,” says Tony Gioventu, a member of the panel. “Under the new oversight structure, the superintendent will be able to make new rules to ‘respond to changes quicker.’” Gioventu is also the executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association of B.C.
David Eby, Vancouver’s MLA, believes the government may be taking too long to implement structural changes, and that the changes may be insufficient regardless. “What I’ve said repeatedly is: They need to take a fire-hose to that organization,” he said. “They need new investigators, new staff, and a new board because there have been too many years of letting corrupt real estate agents off the hook.”
In a city where corrupt agents have faced a maximum penalty of only $10,000 – an amount their commissions often exceed on the same deals – they may soon face fines of up to $250,000 for wrongdoing and brokerage firms could face fines up to $500,000.