KELOWNA, B.C. – Proposed changes to the Real Estate Services Act is not the type of news that typically sets pulses racing. However, the recent development that the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate intends to ban dual agency in British Columbia effective in January 2018 has set debate raging.
Many, including the president of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board, have come out against the proposed changes. Yet, Mark Walker, a Kelowna real estate Broker/Owner, believes the new changes benefit both consumers and Realtors, putting him at odds with the president of his real estate board.
In this context, dual agency refers to when the same individual agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a single transaction, and Walker thinks that’s asking for problems.
“I’ve been in dual agency situations before, and I think the proposed new rules that are set to be implemented are a benefit to consumers and Realtors alike. Dual agency has the potential to jeopardize the ability of the agent to do the best job for their client. Think about it – how can you truly represent both the buyer and the seller in a transaction? How can you negotiate for them? You can’t. It’s a total conflict of interest and a recipe for trouble.”
Walker who runs, Kelowna real estate brokerage – Walker Real Estate – uses a legal analogy to illustrate his point:
“Imagine if a lawyer were representing both the defence and prosecution in a trial. I’m sure the individual lawyer would have the skill to make very good arguments on both sides, but could you say that this type of setup would be in the best interest of the client? I think we’d all agree it would be a resounding no. It’s the same with dual agency, and that’s why my firm has been taking steps to limit our exposure to dual agency for the past 12 months.”
As to why so many are coming out against the changes, Walker believes the biggest consideration is money.
“Whether it’s admitted to or not, I feel most of the opposition comes from the potential loss of income. Some agents will argue that it is up to the client to choose how they what to be represented and if they allow for dual agency, then so be it. However, that’s a misleading point – if clients truly understood how dual agency works, they wouldn’t go for it. I have no doubts about that. Our clients don’t know what they don’t know, and it’s our responsibility to explain things accurately. Not only that, I can count on one hand the number of times in my career that I have sold one of my listings to a former client. I personally applaud these proposed new changes.”
Walker stresses that there are many “fantastic agents and brokerages out there” and not just at his firm. He says the very best will recognize that they’re being hired by their clients for their “expert skill and attention.” He says a Realtor’s fiduciary duties to their client are “vitally important.” You can learn more about a Realtor’s fiduciary responsibilities HERE.
At its core, Walker believes dual agency “undermines the value of an agent and their fiduciary duties.”
“At the end of the day, to represent both sides of a single transaction to their best interests is completely impossible. The best you can do is become a facilitator rather than a negotiator, but from there you should be paid accordingly… in other words, less. It’s like hiring a mediator rather than a litigator. These proposed new changes are good for the industry and consumers. I have no doubt about that.”
The Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate and the Real Estate Council of B.C. governs the real estate industry in B.C. The proposed new rule on dual agency would come into effect on January 15th, 2018.