experts: real estate column Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ever Heard of Agency Disclosure?

No? Hmmmm. Suspicions confirmed.

By Marty Douglas

As published in REM - independent news and opinion for Canada's real estate industry.

Hey folks, we got trouble, right here in River City.

That's right we got trouble, not just in River City,

And it starts with C

And it rhymes with 'mange'

And it stands for 'Change'

With apologies all over the place to the score and lyric writers and the singers and to you who don't even recognize the song from that great Broadway musical, The Music Man.

But I didn't know how to start this piece and I couldn't find a website that would lead me to the proper lyrics - so, I just kind of made them up. Sort of like a lot of Realtors wing their listing presentation or their agency disclosure.


Their agency disclosure. Never heard of it?

Hmmmm. Suspicions confirmed.

Well, one problem with change is, them that needs it the most, don't listen in the early days of change. We train our members like any good speaker trains an audience. Very simply, you tell them what you're going to tell them.

Then you tell them.

Then you tell them what you told them.

But for the very stubborn listeners - unlike readers of this column who are on the leading edge of any steep learning curve - for the very stubborn, they sort of tune in to last syllables and go, "What? Are you crazy? When did this happen? Nobody asked my opinion!"

For example: In British Columbia, now a back eddy of educational progress, we have a new Real Estate Services Act. Been on the drawing boards though about seven premiers, so it's not like a new thing or premature. In the new RESA, we licensees must disclose to the buyer, among other things, the amount of commission we will earn. One of my email regulars faxed me this comment.

"WHY? Is this some sort of April Fool's joke, or what? Or is it some sort of Socialistic - Fascism being revisited here? Is this not an invasion of a Realtor's privacy and his/her/its right? How far can idiotic bureaucracy go, and get away with before someone has to scream that 'Enough is enough!' already!"

Apart from being very curious about what an oxymoronic socialistic fascist might actually think about - probably have the state fund executions rather than the victim - I had to wonder where the writer had been for the past several years when the bureaucracy, directed largely by the industry, asked for input and received commentary on the proposed legislation. I also had to wonder about this person's current compliance level with agency. One of the pillars of agency, after all, is an accounting to one's principal for the money. And that's the common law, not the bureaucrats'.

This person will definitely have a near-death experience when they learn one of the other disclosures necessary is for any remuneration earned indirectly from the transaction. In other words, the reward points from the mortgage broker or the referral from the Realtor in Alberta where we sent the client after the deal in B.C. had closed.

Yes, disclosed. In writing.

And when they discover in the province of Alberta - where they have very little patience with bureaucrats, especially from the National Gun Registry or the Liberal Party - Alberta Realtors have not only been disclosing referrals in writing for years, they have been obtaining the consent of the party being referred.

Having Alberta show us the way is sort of like Dean Martin giving the keynote address at the temperance league's annual dinner. Surprising but still quality entertainment. No disrespect.

To Dean.

On the other hand, maybe there is something in the B.C. water. According to CanWest News Services in Kamloops, B.C., volunteers who drive a toy train in the local zoo came under the scrutiny of the B.C. Safety Authority. From now on, the volunteers will be held to the same standards as real train operators, have to pay to take an exam, and conform to 30 pages of rules.

They used to operate with 12.

Rules, not pages.

The Wet Coast.

It's not for everyone.

Marty Douglas is the sales manager for Coast Realty Group (Comox Valley) Ltd., one of nine Coast Realty Group offices on Vancouver Island. He is a past chair of the Real Estate Errors and Omissions Corporation of B.C., the Real Estate Council of B.C., the B.C. Real Estate Association and the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. 1 800 715 3999; fax 250 897 3933. Email

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Recent Articles by this columnist:

Surviving in a slower market
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The downside of teams
Saturday, October 02, 2010

Thank you, FINTRAC
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Snapshot of Alberta
Thursday, January 03, 2008

No song and dance for weighty housing issues
Monday, October 29, 2007

All articles by Marty Douglas

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