A fine that can go as high as $50,000 awaits real estate agents who engage in unethical double-ending. Double-ending is when brokers, salespersons, and brokerages push through a real estate deal while representing more than one party in the deal.
When Interests Are Conflicted
Regulatory changes are being introduced by Ontario to address scenarios wherein real estate agents are representing both sides of a real estate sale, truly a conflict of interests. It is to be noted that although Ontario is getting stricter on the practice of double-ending, this move did not go into banning the practice.
The changes were announced at Queen’s Park by Minister of Government and Consumer Affairs Tracy MacCharles. The announcement means that those brokerages, salespersons, and brokers who are representing more than one side at a sale will now be subject to stricter rules.
The proposed legislation is also raising the fines for those who violate the code of ethics of the real estate industry. The new fines are up to $100,000 for brokerages and around $25,000 to $50,000 for individual brokers and salespersons.
The Media Brought Light Into the Issue
MacCharles told reporters that what the government is doing is a response to an issue that’s been circulating in the press, wherein one agent is representing both sides in a transaction. She added that they won’t be banning double-ending, but will put a limit to the situations that it’s acceptable to take place.
MacCharles mentioned certain situations such as in some locations wherein there are very few agents, a family situation, or in some industrial or commercial situation where the expertise and representation of a real estate professional is needed – are good examples where double-ending is allowed.
It was also mentioned that the ideal situation is still wherein a seller and a buyer would have different representatives as what is referred to in the industry as the ‘designated representation model’.
MacCharles further shared that the disciplinary actions against those who choose to not comply with the new rules will be up to the Real Estate Council of Ontario.
Double-ending is a real problem as was uncovered in an undercover investigation made by CBC’s Marketplace. Their investigation revealed that some Toronto real estate agents are offering unfair advantages to potential clients in an attempt to secure a deal from both ends.
Big Changes Ahead
The new rules include disclosing to clients when double-ending occurs, a move applauded by Ontario Real Estate Association CEO Tim Hudak, who believes that this is a big step towards the right direction and allows for more trust and better business practices. Other real estate experts have a neutral stance on the issue but acknowledged that full disclosure would be best, more so for sellers who bought from the same agent and want to sell their home with the help of someone they already know and trust.