I became a Toronto real estate agent many years ago and when I first started I was as green as most new Realtors are today, it's just like any business. No matter how well trained you are before your thrown to the wolves there is a learning curve the moment you step out of the classroom and into real world exercises. It did not take me long to notice that consumer protection is second to profit margins. How business is conducted in the real world contradicted some things not all that I had just learned in school.
It’s important to me that people know how passionate I am about my work and no it's not my sales pitch like most other Realtors. This is why I have been very vocal over the years about fair play in how a real estate transaction should take place. The crisis I am about to expose in this article is one that most Realtors don't care about or they just don't seem to get it, I will tell you this; that the brokerage side understands it, yet they choose to do nothing.
The Toronto Real Estate Board promotes consumer protection through its rules and regulations that are stipulated from REBBA 2002, it created a form many years ago named the Buyer Representation agreement because of agency law here in Ontario. I am not going to go into detail about REBBA 2002 but I will focus on buyer representation.
Buyer representation was created through agency law with the intent that both buyer and seller have proper representation throughout the process of buying and selling Toronto real estate. Here is my problem, if we as members of TREB promote the listing agents name on every single piece of marketing material are we not sending the wrong message to the consumer? How so you might me asking. If a prospective buyer is driving around a neighborhood and spots a house for sale through a lawn sign that publicly promotes the listing agents name on it, who do you think the buyer will call first; here are the buyers options, call his own representative or call the listing agent? Most buyers call the listing agent direct and this is how the conflict of interest starts. Now if there was no name on the sign or any other marketing material then the buyer could call the brokerage directly and go through the channels of finding out more information or he could call his/her own representative to learn more about the property details. If the buyer was smart they would call their own Toronto Realtor as this will ensure proper buyer representation.
The problem exists with the fact that dual representation is legal in Ontario through the REBBA 2002 act; but here is a question, how can a Realtor properly represent a buyer and seller on a transaction ethically? And how can a Realtor truly be non biased towards the seller? It's impossible! Did you know that most real estate litigation matters that involve a Realtor are because they choose to practice dual agency in a transaction.
The funny thing is that legally when a seller signs a listing agreement with a Realtor, the contract is binding through the home owner and the Realtors brokerage, not the Realtor himself. So then if this is the case why are Realtors permitted to advertise their names alongside the brokerages on any marketing material? After so many years and raising the question I still have yet been given a logical answer from anyone neither on the brokerage end nor from TREB.
If the Toronto Real Estate Board and brokerage's really wanted to protect the consumer then they would not allow the listing agent to promote their contact details on any marketing material as this practice sends the wrong message to consumers. Instead they should promote more education not only to consumers but to Toronto Realtors and if they really wanted to make a difference, they should lobby CREA to amend REBBA 2002 and abolish dual agency.