In BC, there are two important 'watchdogs' in our industry – the Real Estate Council of BC and each local real estate board. Every REALTOR® should be able to explain the difference to their clients – who does what and why. Our profession is one of the best self-regulated. Being able to explain this to a client will build awareness and confidence.
As you know, as a REALTOR® in the Fraser Valley you're both a licensed real estate representative by Council and designated a REALTOR® by us, your professional association. Council is the regulatory body for real estate licensees in BC and is governed by the Real Estate Services Act (RESA). It's the Act that defines your role as a representative to act on behalf of buyers and sellers and regulates your conduct.
We are your professional association. We provide you with services and support to do your job but more importantly our rules of membership require even higher standards of professional conduct than those required by RESA.
A simple explanation for clients is that Council regulates who and how people get a real estate license (and how they get to keep it) and real estate Boards advocate and oversee higher business standards and professional ethics. If a REALTOR® contravenes RESA, they're breaking the law. If they breach one of our Rules, they're in violation of professional standards.
Depending on the problem or complaint, either body may investigate or occasionally it's both. Here's a table outlining some typical problems, which body it falls under and circumstances when there's cross-over:
|BOTH: FVREB and COUNCIL|
|A REALTOR® not being reachable or accessible by their client||Mishandling of deposits||False advertising
Council mandates that it can't be false or misleading.
The Board's standards are even more specific and stricter.
|A REALTOR® mishandling a multiple offer||Forging or unauthorized signing of documents||Concealing of property defects
Council defines material latent defects and their disclosure.
The Board goes further requiring past and present grow-ops be disclosed as if they were material latent defects.
|REALTORS® not cooperating with each other||A real estate agent fails to disclose their Agency relationship or is deceptive about their commission||Incompetence resulting in a bungled deal
Whether it's Council, the Board or both investigating depends on the misconduct and impact on the client(s). The cause is often REATORS® who don't understand their professional responsibilities in a specific situation.
Both Council and the Board can impose penalties, fines, and suspensions (Council can suspend or cancel a license) or require members to attend specific educational courses.
The key point to all of this is that protection of the public is paramount. Our profession in BC is highly regulated to safeguard clients and instill confidence in the public that hiring a REALTOR® means hiring a professional.
As a licensee, you made the decision to also join a Board and become a REALTOR® because you're committed to a higher standard of service and professionalism for your clients. You know that you don't have to be a member of our Board in order to practice real estate, but most clients wouldn't know this.
So, if they question you when REALTORS® make headlines, it is well worth the few minutes of your time to give them a brief "real estate 101". Explain what Council and the Board do for them and reiterate why you chose to become a REALTOR®.
Because YOU Deserve the Best ...