Two Big Changes Geared Towards Real Estate

The Ontario government recently passed changes to the Ontario Consumers Act which strengthens consumers with regard to large purchases made. Two of the changes have affect on the real estate industry, and are long overdue and more than welcomed in my opinion.

One change is to how “multiple representation” is handled in a real estate transaction. For anyone who has bought or sold real estate in Ontario over the past 20 years, you would know that your chosen real estate agent could represent both the seller and buyer in the same sales transaction, with certain disclosures being needed.

In theory, this can work and keeping in mind that working under rules that govern all of Ontario, some regions this scenario not only works out well, but is actually necessary. But in a city the size of Toronto (and across the GTA), I still don’t think the changes go far enough.

It’s too complex of a topic to cover here completely but why the changes don’t go far enough in my opinion is that there is enough abuse throughout the GTA with multiple representation that it warrants stricter rules and changes. Yes, fines have risen dramatically for offenders convicted (now up to $50,000 for an agent and $100,000 for a brokerage) but getting someone convicted is always the challenge.

The stakes are high and competition is rampant throughout the GTA. It’s still fairly easy to obtain a real estate license and there is little to no accountability from most brokerages. Of course there are many ethical brokers (agents) and I have dealt with many of them. But poll most experienced agents (who’ve been in the industry 12+ years) and almost all I’m sure will tell you this is a huge problem. I don’t see this problem going away based on the recent changes, but only time will tell.

The second change has to do with the Tarion Home Warranty program. Anyone who has been involved with actually dealing with Tarion, knows how frustrating and stupid this organization is in it’s current setup.

The concept is one of value and importance, but it almost seems more like a rubber stamp in the new home buying process, rather than a consumer protection agency. The board of directors is better balanced these days (it used to be heavily made up of developers) but going through the claim process is expensive and the onus still falls mostly onto the consumer, who pays a very large fee for the insurance in the beginning.

Better transparency and consumer protection is better for all of us, especially those of us who work in relation to the real estate industry. Let’s hope 2018 brings better coverage for all.

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