Comox Valley real estate is a highly regulated industry in British Columbia. There are a significant number of laws that have the potential to come into play when buying or selling a home in the Comox Valley Real Estate market.
As I have also mentioned on many occasions, real estate agents do not give legal advice. Seek such advice from a lawyer. Having said this, competent Comox Valley real estate agents should keep up-to-date on the laws that have the potential to affect the purchase or sale of a home so that they know when to recommend that a buyer or seller seek legal and/or other professional advice. Let’s take a very brief look at some of the laws that a Comox Valley home buyer or seller may encounter. If you are interested in getting a sense of some of the additional laws that may affect a real estate transaction, visit the Real Estate Laws and Regulations section of my website.
The Real Estate Services Act governs the sale of real estate in British Columbia. It aims to ensure that people who offer real estate services meet minimum established competency requirements to obtain a license. This act also establishes standards of conduct for those who become licensed. The Real Estate Council of British Columbia is established by this act to administer the act.
The Law of Agency concerns the relationship between a person who acts on behalf of another person and that person. In real estate, a real estate brokerage, through their real estate agents, acts on behalf of their client. While the working day-to-day relationship is between the real estate agent and the client, BC Law recognizes the brokerage as the agent of the client. This agency relationship is described in detail in the British Columbia Real Estate Association in its pamphlet “Working with a REALTOR ®”
The Law and Equity Act is a BC Act that establishes the principle that the rules of equity (fairness) prevail when conflicting with common law (court-based, judge-made law). Section 59 of this law discusses the enforceability of a contact respecting land (or a disposition of land). This section says that, in most cases, contracts dealing with real estate must be in writing to be enforceable.
The Law of Contract comprises those general legal principles that apply to the formation and enforcement of all contracts. Real estate agents are expected to write valid, enforceable contracts that contain an offer, acceptance, consideration, legal intention, capacity, legal object, and genuine consent. When contacts are ineffectual, they fall into the categories of being void, illegal, voidable, and unenforceable. It is important to understand the law of contract because it establishes requirements such as the need for vendors to disclose defects, contaminated property and defects in title.
The federal Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, among other things, establishes record keeping and client identification requirements for financial services providers and other persons engaged in businesses, or professions. There are specific elements of this act that apply to real estate. For example, real estate agents are required to identify and document the identity of people before these people engage in real estate transactions. For those that have purchased or sold a home in BC recently you will likely remember having to show your real estate agent some form of identification such as your drivers license, and seeing the agent copy down this information onto a form called “Individual Identification Information Record” produced by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
The Personal Information Protection Act regulates the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by private organizations. The British Columbia Real Estate Association pamphlet “Working With a REALTOR ® ” discusses the collection and use of personal information. This act recognizes the right of individuals to protect their personal information and the need of organizations such as real estate agencies to collect this type of information for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate. The Property Law Act requires that the vendor of land must deliver a registered title to the purchaser. Knowledge of this law is important because of some of the assumptions that it makes. For example, it assumes that land sold to two or more people will be to them as tenants in common unless their is information to the contrary. What does this mean? Under tenancy in common, if you own property with another person and you die, your interest in the property becomes part of your estate to be passed on according to your will. If this is not your preference, then you need to ensure that the land is sold to you as “joint tenants” so that when you die, your interest passes to the remaining joint tenant. This law also establishes rules on the transfer of ownership to oneself, the transfer of the responsibilities under and existing mortgage from a buyer to a seller, the requirement for mortgagees (banks, etc.) to provide financial statements to the mortgagor (free of charge) on the status of the mortgage, and much more.
The above acts are merely some of the many that have the potential to affect Courtenay property listings of homes for sale transactions in British Columbia. Knowledge of these acts is important. If you are planning to buy or sell a home or property in the Comox Valley without the services of a real estate agent, you may wish to become more familiar with the law as it applies to real estate. Consult your lawyer on issues related to real estate law, and ensure that you know how to write a legally enforceable contract that contains all of the provisions you need to protect your interests. If you would like to discuss the potential purchase or sale of property in the Comox Valley, contact Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty.
by Brett Cairns