The Ontario government is revising the province’s real estate laws, which, if passed, will impact home buyers and sellers.
The proposed legislation, known as the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, aims to raise professional standards and improve protections and choices for consumers.
Here are five notable reforms to be aware of:
1. Home sellers will be able to instruct their agent to disclose details of competing offers, such as price, closing date and other conditions, to bidders in a multiple buyer situation. This will allow for a more open offer process, so long as the seller agrees. Under the current rules, listing agents are only required to tell potential purchasers (those who have made an offer on a property) how many offers have been submitted.
2. There will be no changes to multiple representation, which is where a single brokerage (and sometimes the agent) represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction. Consumers will continue to have the right to work with a real estate professional of their choosing. This means agents can still double-end deals. In 2017, the Liberal government proposed eliminating the controversial practice.
3. The term ‘customer’ will be replaced with ‘self-represented party’ to clarify that only clients are owed a fiduciary duty. What does this mean? If you are a client, the brokerage and by extension, your agent, is obliged to promote and protect your best interests in the real estate transaction. This is not the case for customers or self-represented parties.
4. Realtors will not be able to claim they are a specialist in a particular field or type of property unless certain education requirements and criteria have been met. This will enable home buyers and sellers to identify agents who have training or expertise in a specific area of real estate, like commercial or waterfront properties.
5. The Real Estate Council of Ontario will have more latitude to immediately sanction or fine agents or brokers for minor infractions like breaking advertising rules. The province’s real estate industry regulator will also be able to order specific courses of education for agents who break regulations and suspend or revoke a Realtor or brokerage’s registration, or impose conditions on a registration, for bad conduct.
This is the first time in nearly 20 years that the province’s real estate laws have received a major overhaul. If passed this year, the Trust in Real Estate Services Act will replace the long-held Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, and the new regulations could be introduced as early as 2021.