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October 05, 2006

Alberta's Real Estate Industry gets new rules

Just in case you're wondering this is not long overdue.  The Real Estate Council of Alberta continues to lead North America in its proactive approach to regulating the real estate industry.  Considered the most regulated environment by many for real estate practioners Alberta has once again set the bar for other jurisdictions to follow.  The only area from my perspective that Alberta is not a leader is in its educational requirements for new members and continuing education for existing members.  Keep in mind that not every company or agent is a Realtor.  Realtors belong to the Canadian Real Estate Association and have exclusive access to marketing their properties on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), the most effective method of marketing a property.  In July the Canadian Real Estate Association issued its revised "code of ethics" for Realtors which sets the bar for Realtors conduct across the country.  Only Realtors can offer you professional advice in marketing, negotiating, and managing the risks in selling your property.  Some marketing companies claim to offer this type of service but this is a huge misrepresentation.   The article below outlines the New Rule changes from the Real Estate Council of Alberta which regulates the conduct of its 9000 plus members who are licensed to trade in Real Estate in Alberta.  You can as we have posted many times find consumer resources at www.reca.ca , you can find more information consumer information and information pertaining to Realtors from its Alberta chapter at http://www.abrea.ab.ca/

One interesting item to note from the article is that the Council received 651 complaints about its members conduct over a 12 month period ending June 30, 2006.  What the article didn't indicate was that these complaints were generated based over thousands of transactions from all across the province Alberta.  In many cases some of these complaints are frivilous and are dismissed but those that are not are investigated thouroughly and the members go through a transparent disciplinanry process which is open to the public. 

There is no fall back or complaint process for people who purchase a property directly from a seller.  Caveat emptor applies (buyer beware). In my opinion you risk far more than the percievably saved by entering into this complicated process without professional representation.

New disclosure rules set for realtors
Must clarify to the customer if they represent buyer or seller

Ron Chalmers, edmontonjournal.com
Published: Wednesday, October 04, 2006

“When I call a realtor about buying a house, is he my agent — or an agent for the seller? I think there’s a fair degree of potential confusion,” says Richard Parker, who chaired a council task force that wrote new rules to ensure clarity — and to define other standards of professional conduct.

“When you walk into a car dealership, you know the guy is representing the dealership,” Parker says. But some consumers may not know, when they call a realtor about a home he has listed, that he represents the seller.

Alternatively, a consumer could ask any other realtor to act as his or her agent in buying the property.

“The new rules require that the professional make clear to the customer, as early as possible in their interaction, what services they are providing,” Parker says.

The relationship must be explained in writing unless the client provides a written waiver. In most cases, a realtor will act either as the seller’s agent or as the buyer’s agent. But there can be a couple of twists. Occasionally, the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent both will work for the same real estate company.

Under the new rules, “that apparent conflict of interest can be resolved if the company sets up procedures and policies,” Parker says. The two realtors must protect their clients’ interests by keeping information confidential from each other.

In rare cases, a single agent may represent both the buyer and the seller — if both parties give informed, written consent. “In that arrangement, the real-estate professional is constrained in the advice they can give,” Parker says. For example, the realtor could not tell the buyer that the seller is desperate and will accept a low offer.

The 128 new rules took effect Oct. 1. The Alberta Real Estate Act empowers the independent Real Estate Council to regulate realtors, mortgage brokers and real estate appraisers. Parker, a public member and former Calgary urban planner, was appointed by the provincial government.

The review reflects “an industry desire to strive for greater professionalism, and to protect the public interest,” said Kathleen Walsh, the Council’s communications co-ordinator. She said the council received 651 complaints about the conduct of realtors, mortgage brokers and appraisers during the 12 months ending June 30, 2006. The disposition of all complaints is revealed at the council’s website, www.reca.ca.
The website also displays the entire text of the new or revised council rules.



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