The Province: B.C. NDP urges major probe of practices of some Metro Vancouver realtors Government asleep at switch amid ‘serious allegations,’ says Eby

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By Jennifer Saltman, The Province

From the article:

The B.C. NDP says the provincial government needs to do a formal, arm’s-length investigation into allegations that some Metro Vancouver realtors are engaging in dubious practices and contributing to an unsustainable housing market.

“The provincial government has been asleep at the switch on this issue and it’s time for them to step up,” NDP housing critic and Vancouver-Point Grey MLA David Eby told reporters on Monday.

Eby said information about the activities of some local realtors is coming from multiple sources, including reports in The Province and Globe and Mail, realtor sources and court transcripts.

Some realtors are believed to be sending false information to Canada’s financial intelligence unit by allowing clients to use their broker’s address rather than their own address when filling out forms meant to alert the federal government to possible cases of money laundering and terrorist financing.

Some realtors are accused of exploiting the assignment clause in purchase and sale contracts so they can trade properties one or more times before the close date and make multiple commissions.

Reporters were also provided with copies of questionable ads and blog posts from people claiming to be realtors or experts in real estate.

Eby said the effect is that the provincial government is being deprived of tens or even hundreds of millions in property transfer taxes, federal regulations to detect and discourage money laundering are being circumvented and some realtors have an unfair advantage.

“These are very serious allegations,” Eby said.

Last month, Eby wrote two letters to the Real Estate Council of B.C. — a regulatory agency established nearly 60 years ago by the B.C. government — outlining his concerns.

However in an emailed response the board declined to investigate because the issues were related to financial disclosure and tax laws, “and to the extent they relate to licensee conduct, no specifics have been provided that would suggest that you informant’s concerns are warranted.”

“These individual issues would be serious enough on their own, but together with so many widespread reports coming from different sources, they lead us to the inevitable conclusion that oversight of the real estate industry in British Columbia is woefully inadequate,” Eby said.

“The government will not get a moment’s silence until they call this investigation.”

Eby pointed out that most realtors conduct themselves professionally and are valued members of the community, and they are fed up with the actions of a few bad realtors.

“Their reputations are directly impugned by this kind of conduct,” he said.

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