Ethics in the real estate industry

This month’s market brief is focused on the negative press in the news about Vancouver’s real estate market. There is lots to be said about what’s happening in our market. Everyone agrees it’s out of control, but there is little agreement about what to do about it. The article in the Globe and Mail  here  exposed a reality that many residents were perhaps not fully aware of and how some unscrupulous folks are taking advantage of that.

And here is our response to the article:


As a professional Realtor operating in Vancouver’s heated real estate market, I was pleased to see the article in The Globe written by Kathy Tomlinson. It was well researched and provided some insight into the goings on in the day to day world of trading real estate in this city. Ms. Tomlinson exposed truths others are afraid to talk about, but I was troubled to read general public’s reaction is to the news. They jump in quickly to discredit an entire profession, one which my team and I take pride in as we navigate our clients through the unpredictable landscape of what was once all of our backyards.


The article is mostly correct, but lacks mention of the large real estate transactions with money coming from Iran and those who have aligned themselves to take advantage of this flow of cash and mega assignment deals. Unfortunately we know from experience, where there is money, bottom feeders come out from the cracks to exploit the situation. The article paints a picture of shrewd unethical Realtors as the perpetrators with the buyers and sellers of desirable properties simply victims of this exploitation and greed, but what of their own greed?


It is this greed which fuels all fires, without it there is no deal. If it were you, what would you do? I’m lucky enough to own a home and naturally want as much money as I can get for it – for my family and me. These sellers are thinking of themselves when someone comes knocking – which is a perfectly legitimate way of finding a client by the way – since the Fuller Brush Company made it so back in 1906.


Those of us who built a solid reputation before the latest foreign investment phenomenon fully understand what integrity is and take our fiduciary duty to our clients seriously.


However we have watched our clients, the foundation of each of our businesses, turn to the services of “a foreign Realtor/brokerage” because they believe these agents have an artery to foreign money. These “poor Canadians”, as one put it in the article, don’t consider the ethics, trust and service they know they can expect from those of us who didn’t just hang up a shingle to take advantage of the current situation.


We have warned our clients about the “assignment clause” written into most contracts and explained what very well might happen if they sell their homes to this buyer with a long close. But the money is there, often with a non-refundable cash deposit and it’s very attractive. They know they have the option to remove the clause and risk the buyer going somewhere else. It’s not surprising they take the deal along with the risk.


Then what if another buyer comes along a month later and is willing to pay more? It is after all a “Market” isn’t it?   Do we want a “Free Market” or a regulated one? That’s not an easy decision for any one to make. I’m frustrated home ownership is a distant goal for my children and I know many feel the same way. I’m sorry to see my neighbourhood replaced with vacant homes and my community lack the cohesiveness I knew when I grew up. There is a lack of stability for everyone – both buyers and sellers and those of us who choose to live here.


It’s obvious to those of us within the profession who is doing right and who is doing wrong. However, to the general public it may not be so apparent and isn’t this why it’s crucial to work with someone you know and trust? Our Real Estate Board needs to step up and eliminate the behavior by removing these people from the board.


The 14 days suspensions are a joke. But we are not all a group of “morons”, the word one of the commenters chose to describe all of us. I hold my clients near to my heart and we celebrate our success together. It’s satisfying helping take the next step through their valley of life.


Name a single profession without a rotten manipulative self-serving member permeating the core – be it a financial advisor, a lawyer, a CEO, teacher, judge or a government official. Unfortunately it’s human nature and we are all human, but not created equally. The market is the market, it makes little sense, but the moral here is finding someone you can trust.   There is a choice.




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