In a press conference last week, British Columbia premier Christy Clark did not mince words about her province’s real estate industry. Sitting on one of the most expensive markets in North America, if not the world, she has opted to reign in the powers of the industry to regulate itself after years of leaving them to their own devices.
Christy Clark outlined a new approach to the real estate industry in her province, which will include a government-appointed Superintendent. According to Clark, the new plan “will include transferring all authority for regulation, for penalties and rule-making away from the Real Estate council, and put it directly in the hands of the Superintendent.”
The major shift comes after a major “shadow-flipping” scandal was discovered in Vancouver. The scheme, which involved selling new homes to companies, who would then immediately flip them for a higher cost, sometimes a few times before the homes went to the actual market, was a major driving factor in Vancouver’s volatile and constantly growing market. A probe was launched to investigate the industry’s practices and came back with 28 recommendations surrounding ethics and business practices. These recommendations will now be enacted by the Superintendent.
According to 630 CHED, the “Real Estate Council of BC says in a statement they’re ‘ready, willing, and able’ to work with the government to implement the steps taken by the province.” The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver is equally excited by the changes. President Dan Morrison is confident the changes will be better for the industry, its workers, and consumers in general. “We’re taking all of it as a positive thing,” he said in a statement, “Because it raises the bar for stronger regulatory environment, stronger protection for consumers, and raises the bar for realtor professionalism because realtors, we’re all for that.”
Here in Alberta, such regulatory moves may be a long ways off, however, because of Alberta’s different policies, depressed real estate markets, and lack of similar scandals. While Vancouver remains a rapidly growing and dangerous market, Edmonton and Calgary have remained relatively stable, especially as current economic circumstances are helping to balance out the problems. Unlike our neighbours to the west, this real estate industry has enjoyed a relatively scandal-free relationship with its consumers and the government.