Are you a Comox Valley Realty customer or client? What is the difference? Why is this important? Comox Valley real estate agents in British Columbia are licensed to be able to provide real estate services to people in exchange for remuneration.The Real Estate Services Act (Part 1) defines such services as advising on an appropriate price for the real estate, making representations about the real estate, finding the real estate for a party to acquire, finding the party to acquire the real estate, showing the real estate, negotiating the price of the real estate or the terms of the trade in real estate, presenting offers to dispose of or acquire the real estate, and receiving deposit money paid in respect of the real estate. Before providing such services, however, All of our Comox Valley properties and homes listedby agents are required to disclose a number of things to consumers to include the nature of the relationship that the licensed agent will provide to the consumer. The relationship that is created may be an agency relationship, a limited dual agency relationship, or no agency relationship. The required disclosure must be done at the first reasonable opportunity.
Why is this important? It is important for two main reasons. First, Comox Valley real estate agents, by law, have legal obligations to fulfill before they start providing real estate services to consumers. Second, consumers need to understand that these legal obligations exist, and they need to understand what general and fiduciary duties they are owed, the limitations that may be placed on these duties, and the types of services that they should expect to receive. Comox Valley home buyers and home sellers rely on their advice and services to make some of the most important financial decisions of their lives.
Often misunderstood is the notion that real estate agents are merely salespeople. By law, real estate agents are held to a higher professional standard. They are obligated to follow written professional standards while they discharge their duties to real estate clients under the Real Estate Services Act. As well, REALTORS ® who belong to the Canadian Real Estate Association also have obligations that are established in the REALTOR ® Code.
Also often misunderstood is the difference between the consumer as a customer, and the consumer as a client. When you walk into a store or onto a car lot looking to purchase something, you are a customer. The business does not represent you, and they will often try to get you to purchase something on terms and at a price favorable to their business. When you enter into a professional relationship with a doctor, lawyer or real estate agent (unless you have no agency relationship with the real estate agent) you are a client. As a client, your professional has a duty to represent, and to protect your interests as specified by applicable laws and regulations.
In a perfect world, all Comox Valley real estate agents would discharge their duties fully, and to the highest standards possible. However, this is not a perfect world. The character and motivation of the individual real estate agent will often play a role in how fully and well these obligations are discharged. As a real estate client, your real estate agent has general and fiduciary duties to you, and it is important that you understand what they are. In British Columbia, real estate agents have obligations established in the Real Estate Services Act, the Real Estate Council of British Columbia Professional Standards Manual, and the real estate board, such as the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, to which they belong. Most real estate agents also have obligations established by the REALTOR ® Code of Ethics (either because they are REALTORS ® or because an organization such as the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board has adopted the REALTOR ® Code of Ethics) to their real estate clients.
What does this mean in practice? Consider the following hypothetical examples: First, a real estate agent is primarily motivated by making money and only provides services required by law. They focus on high end waterfront homes that include high bank and walk on. Second, a real estate agent actively seeks listings while ignoring solicitation limitations placed on them by a local real estate board that they consider unenforceable. Third, a real estate agent seeks out and accepts listings even when they know the owner’s asking price is way above market value so that they can get their sign (and name) on a property with the intention of talking the seller down in price after they sign a listing contact. Fourth, a real estate agent tells a buyer or seller what they think they want to hear to make a sale instead of what they need to hear, and in doing so, risk losing a sale. Do you think any of these hypothetical examples are acceptable behavior (legally and/or morally) in the eyes of the organizations that regulate the conduct of real estate agents?
As consumers and clients we all, at some time or another, rely on and depend on a variety of different professionals to provide us needed services. Laws and codes are written to guide, regulate, and enforce the conduct of professionals. We can better protect ourselves as consumers if we get to know what is expected of our professionals. As a real estate professional, I am happy to discuss any or all of these issues with my Comox Valley real estate clients. People who are better informed are generally more comfortable with the decisions that they make in life, and in turn, they will be subject to fewer unwanted surprises. Contact Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty if you need information on the Comox Valley Real Estate market or are planning to buy or sell a Comox Valley home.
by Brett Cairns