Loss of dual agency a loss of consumer choice

Guest Comment: John Evans, president of the B.C. Northern Northern Real Estate Board

When a Realtor attempts to defend Dual Agency, one might be quick to assume that the agent is only concerned about their loss of income – in some cases, this may be correct, but definitely not all. The upcoming rule changes that will be effective for all BC Realtors on March 15th of this year do nothing to stop an agent from collecting a fee on both sides of the transaction. This practice is called ‘double ending’. Double ending will still be allowed under the new rules. The issue that we Realtors have is the loss of Dual Agency, which is the opportunity to represent both sides of the transaction. The two are very different and should not be confused. In my opinion, I would have rather seen the end of double-ending but a continuance of the practice of dual agency.

The BC Northern Real Estate Board shares the same thoughts as the Superintendent and the Council when it comes so consumer protection, but we also believe that the consumer has a right to choose an agent that they prefer to work with. Dual agency, when used correctly is an effective way for the buyer and seller to both get what they want collaboratively. It is not confrontational. It is not the same as a defense lawyer and the prosecuting lawyer representing the same client. Think of the agent as a mediator to the transaction when both parties have a common goal; one wants to buy and the other wants to sell. It is quite simple. For those of you that have dealt with a divorce mediator in the past, you will understand what I mean. The mediator simply brings both sides together and takes the emotions out of the transaction. In the end, the two parties have reached a common goal. There was likely some give and take by both parties throughout the transaction but the end result is always the same.

The new rules will restrict the agents from entering into these dual agency relationships. Imagine calling your Realtor that you have known and trusted for years but he or she has to reject your business as they have a buyer client that is possibly interested in your home. He or she cannot give you advice and they will likely have to deny their buyer agency as well as they are now in conflict. This is a loss of consumer choice. Imagine again in the smaller communities where conflict will arise on a regular basis. Agents who have grown up in these small communities will have conflicts everywhere they look.

Will these small offices have to shut down based on the fact that they are simply unable to provide services based on strict guidelines to avoid conflict? They likely will. Imagine taking a transfer to one of these small communities but you cannot find a local agent to represent you as a buyer’s agent because they all have agency relationships with sellers. Will you use the services of an out of town agent that is not familiar with the area, does not have any local market knowledge, does not know where the latest grow-op home was? These are services that Realtors have provided that may not be available in smaller communities in the next few years. Isn’t it nice to go into a small community and go to the local Real Estate office and look at their listings in the window? Of course, these are all online as well but who doesn’t like to check the vibe of a community by checking out these photos?

Our fight is not about us not being able to double end­­. We are allowed to do that. Our arguments are that the loss of dual agency will restrict the services that we can provide to the consumer.

The dual agency discussion often leads to the assumption that the Realtor only wants to collect both sides of the fee, that is not correct and as a matter of fact, that can still be done with proper disclosure. Realtors are simply wanting to provide services to the consumer without limitations.

In the end, small offices will be absorbed by the larger offices. More agents will be providing services in under-serviced areas despite the fact that they have no knowledge of the local area. Services that have been provided by local agents will all but disappear. In the interest of protecting the consumer, it will be the consumer that pays the price.

– John Evans is the president of the B.C. Northern Real Estate Board

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