Strengthening of Consumer Protection Act aims to protect property buyers and sellers across the province
TORONTO – Up until November 2013, those looking to buy or sell an Ontario home only had one model of paying their real estate agent: through a commission relative to the price of the property.
The province has voted in favour of replacing that system with a more flexible one, involving both commissions and agent fees – one of many changes that passed Third Reading* at Queen’s Park on November 27 in an effort to strengthen the Ontario Consumer Protection Act.
According to the Ministry of Consumer Services’ official release, Ontario real estate agents will have the ability to charge their clients a fee, a commission, or both.
“This gives consumers more power when working with a real estate professional,” states the release, “By allowing home sellers and buyers to negotiate a combination of fees and commissions, tailoring the cost to the services they want.”
New Regulations for Handling Multiple Offers
The new changes to the act also include stricter requirements for real estate salespersons, brokers, and brokerages in situations where multiple offers are made on a single property – sometimes known in the industry as “bidding wars.”
Four key changes will affect the way multiple offers are handled:
- Going forward, sales representatives and brokers must only present written offers when acting on behalf of a buyer.
- Likewise, a broker or sales person may not indicate that they have an offer, unless they have it in writing. This is a prohibited practice under the new legislation.
- From now on, brokers representing the seller will be required to retain copies of any written offers submitted on a property.
- Any buyer making a written offer on a property is now permitted to ask the Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario for a report on how many written offers have already been submitted for that property.
Ontario Minister of Consumer Services Tracy MacCharles said she is confident that the new changes will be a positive change for Ontario residents, ensuring added accountability by real estate professionals.
“As we take action on consumer concerns, we are helping to ensure that Ontario consumers are better informed about their rights. This will help build consumer confidence when consumers enter into a contract,” MacCharles said in November.
“I thank everyone who worked so hard to pass this important bill that protects and empowers Ontario consumers.”
For more information on regulations and consumer protection in Ontario’s real estate market, we recommend visiting the Ministry of Consumer Services’ official website, as well as that of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), who are responsible for enforcing and publicizing the Real Estate Business and Brokers Act of 2002.
* At Provincial Legislature, “Third Reading” refers to the final round of approval before a bill passes through Royal Assent and becomes law.