ethics in toronto real estateI play by the rules. Maybe it’s because I spent ten years working in Human Resources, or maybe it’s because I think real estate Buyers and Sellers need protection.

The varying levels of ethical enforcement have the power to issue and execute search warrants, revoke real estate licenses, determine financial penalties and yes, even prosecute criminally. Toronto Realtors are bound to ethical duties and obligations at both the provincial and federal level.

Among other obligations, Ontario real estate agents must:

  • Maintain confidentiality. (Confidentiality)
  • Have the knowledge, skills, and experiences needed for the real estate transaction. (Competence)
  • Be honest and not take advantage of the client; disclose any conflicting interests; disclose facts about the property which would be relevant to the client’s decision in buying or selling the property. (Good Faith)
  • Place the interests of the client above all else except the law; help to promote and protect the client’s interests at all times and disclose any conflict, actual or perceived. (Loyalty)

 In the last 30 days, here are some of the violations that I have personally encountered:

  • A registered real estate agent made an appointment to view a property we had listed and gave the code to the lockbox that contained the key to the property to an unregistered person. No agent was present at the showing of our client’s property or during the completion of the offer. Registered agents must accompany potential purchasers to a showing, and non-registered people must not trade in real estate. 
  • A realtor didn’t follow the Real Estate Council of Ontario’s guidelines of fair advertising by grossly underpricing a house with a price they had no intention of accepting. You can read more about that here in our blog I’m not anti-realtor, I’m just anti-douchebag realtor. Realtors have duties to advertise fairly. 
  • An agent made misrepresentations about the client they were representing and about themselves. Agents aren’t allowed to misrepresent. 
  • An agent advertised one of my listings without my permission and represented it as their own. Agents need written permission to advertise properties that aren’t listed with their brokerage.
  • An agent represented a client in the purchase of a condo and did not disclose that he would be living in it. Agents have a duty to disclose if they have a personal stake in a purchase or sale. 

You’re not alone if you think that’s a lot of infractions to have witnessed in 30 days.   For the record, those allegations involve at least five agents, not just one really bad agent.  So what’s a girl to do? Well, I’ve officially been part of my first complaint to the Real Estate Council of Ontario. We’ll see how that turns out.

Like any other industry, a few rotten apples spoils the bunch (or, at least, taint us all). While most real estate agents are ethical and good, we all need to bring forward concerns and complaints so that the bar in this industry can be raised. And yes, I mean consumers need to get involved too.

Thank you for listening – I will now descend from my soapbox.

Comments

  1. David Armstrong says:

    Melaine;
    You and many more of us Realtors need to get on our soapboxes and preach ethics. I’ve been a Realtor for 22 years and like you work for a firm that prides itself on eithics, personally I’m Chair of the Ottawa Real Estate Discipline Committee and sit on the RECO CCD Committee. I have found over the past 5 years ethical standards have started to slip. I don’t know if it’s because of the market, Brokers, training, low entry standards or Realtors (I suspect a combination). But we need to raise the bar, we need to weed out unethical agents and protect consumers against the unthical practices we see on a daily or weekly basis. As an industry our governing bodies work on a complaint basis not a policing basis. The only way to improve is to maintain high personal standards, insist your Broker/Brokerage does the same and complain or encourage the public to complain when we see/hear of unthical behaviour. Congratulations on making a stand, hopefully more Realtors will do the same.

    • Hi David, I recently came across a real estate agent who misrepresented me as he had a conflict of interest. We signed a multiple representation form as he showed us the unit in a triplex he was selling for a customer. The unit was not done yet (it has zero appliances, no lights in the place, cabinets were not done yet, no shower glass door, etc.) When we told him we needed a place that we can move early he said the place would be done in a week ( 4 weeks before our lease date) and that it wouldn’t be a problem. A few days before the lease date nothing had changed from when we saw the place the first time. We had schedule a move that day only to have to cancel with our moving company as it was not ready. I also found out they were putting up a shower rod instead of glass door (the real estate told us it would be a glass door). In the end we were so unhappy with the place we didnt want to move in. We ended up having to pay a few months rent to break our lease contract with the landlord and found the type of place we actually wanted. I want to sue the real estate agent for damages and misrepresentation as well as make a complaint to the board. I believe i have a duty to expose dirty agents such as this to avoid the same results for other people in the future .

  2. Maybe your problem is that you are playing by the rules. lol. No seriously, you bring up some very valid points. As you know RECO is backlogged beyond belief. If the response time was quicker than 8 months, perhaps more people would file complaints. Ultimately, I believe, it is the brokerages responsibility to make sure their agents conduct themselves professionally.

  3. I have recently found myself in a position where I need to log a complaint about an agent trying to sell me a home at avenue road and Lawrence.

    one of the selling agents of this home put a full court press on to try and steal my business from the agent I am working with by promising me the world. He told me he had another client who was putting an offer in on the same house and was doing a home inspection, (he said what he was going to place as an offer and would share with me the results of his home inspection, so I would not have to do one.

    He said he and his partner would be handling the offers since they were the selling agent. Once offers were in they would advise me what number I would have to get to for the home. Not to worry about an appraisal on the home as the land value was 1.1M. The stories and phone calls continue (now you as real estate agents should understand why people lie on the sign in form during open houses)

    When I was mortified with how unethical this is, I told him I am not going with him because we did not understand how an agent selling a home could have our best interest and did not feel comfortable ..

    All we thought was what would he say to people coming into seeing our place… When telling him we are staying with our guy, he told me that’s too bad, you now stand no chance in getting this place!!! We have another person we are talking care of for this place and he will play the process.

    Now that that is off my chest, to hear of such back log, 8 months for cases to be heard, only tells me the water cooler chat of real estate agents is true and the system to protect consumers is also corrupt. I now know this matter will never get to be heard fairly for the convenience of my family and now I will just hit this guy where it can make an impact… On social media so everyone knows what a slime ball he is

    So the house sold for $131000 over asking, and surprise surprise the client of the agent who was selling the houses was the one who did have the highest bid… But hey I am not surprised, if I only played the game under his terms that could have been me. He told me how it was going to go down and it went that exact way. Get everyone’s offer first, have your client sign on the dotted line, present to the home owner and drive the price up for a double commission. And I am sure they are selling the house of the person who got this one because that was the only thing I had to promise in return.

    No wonder people do not trust the real estate agents in general. You can not even police yourselves or even want to because it means less money for you

    • Wow, thank you so much for sharing. I do hope you follow through with a complaint to RECO – though the process is long and tedious, the only way change will come about is if consumers demand it (and you should probably call that agent’s broker too by the way). These kinds of stories literally make me cringe and I’m so sorry you’ve had to experience the dark side of this business.

    • Tatianna Taylor says:

      Print his name. I put in a complaint but it was her word against mine. They took her word I guess because I lost the grievance. But then the board is made up mostly by members of the real estate community elected by members of the real estate community. Lions, please regulate yourselves!

  4. LOCATION : TORONTO

    I would like to an experience that I went through and still am dealing with at this time.

    18th April 2011: I entered into an assignment agreement with the seller/assignor who was also acting as the agent of an unregistered unit at new construction loft. In the assignment agreement, as required, the seller had provided me with the original purchase price of the unit, and based on that price I negotiated my purchase price with the assignor/agent. After we had agreed to that price we then proceeded to get an approval from the builder, which was provided by the builder a week later. Please note that during this whole process, neither the seller nor my agent had ever mentioned anything about any credits assigned to the unit by the builder to the unit.

    13th August 2012: The closing of the unit did not take place until the following year in August 2012. Approximately two weeks before the closing on the 13th of August 2012, the assignor/agent forwarded my real estate agent an amendment to the original assignment agreement for me to sign. The amendment stated that I will forward all credits assigned by the builder to the assignor. This was the first time I had heard of any credits assigned to the unit, and my understanding of assignment agreements was that the assignor would have to disclose all pertaining information regarding the unit prior to the signing of the assignment purchase. My lawyer advised me against signing any amendments just two weeks before the closing. It was his opinion that the seller should not have waited 17 months before forwarding an amendment to the original assignment agreement. Any negotiations in regards to the credit should have been completed prior to the signing of the Assignment purchase, not days before the closing of the sale.

    When we finally received the balance of adjustments from the builder, the credit allowed was approximately $70,000 which we considered was a significant sum. I as a buyer felt that this transaction was not done in good faith or within the guidelines of an assignment transaction. We offered to give the unit back to the seller and in return we wanted our deposit and reasonable time (One month approximately) to vacate the property. In return, the seller’s lawyer declined our offer, then countered with an offer for us to vacate the property in 10 days and in addition declined to return our deposit and threatened to sue us for additional damages. (Please refer to the attachments of correspondence between the seller’s lawyer and the buyer’s lawyer)

    August 21st 2012:We closed the sale of the unit and paid the builder the required amount less the credits and paid the seller the amount stated in the assignment agreement. (Please refer to page 4 of assignment of purchase and sale agreement)

    April 9th 2013: On the evening of April 9th 2013, I was handed a Statement of claim prepared and registered with Ontario Superior Court for by the assignor/agent’s lawyer. Due to this recent action by the seller/agent, I have had no choice but to file a complaint against assignor/agent.

    In conclusion, it is my opinion that the assignor/agent/broker of record purposely withheld “material facts” regarding the credits assigned to the unit. The information regarding the credits would have allowed me to negotiate a more favorable price and to avoid that negotiation, the seller/agent decided to withhold this information until the closing with full intention of railroading the amendment.

    I would like to point out that the seller and his realty company have made this home purchase a nightmare experience for my wife and me. We have been consistently contacted by the seller/agent or his lawyer to pay up, we have time and time again offered to return the unit to him but he has refused to accept that offer. I feel that I am being bullied into an unfair contract. I should have the right to walk away from a misrepresented contract. I should not be threatened by his lawyer to not return my deposit and be sued for further damages.

    • Melanie Piche says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your story. Assignments are much trickier than regular resales, but this one sounds especially messy. Good luck in getting it resolved!

  5. Manon McLellan says:

    Well, tomorrow is our day in court – mediation before small claims court… we put our house on the market and contacted a well known agent in our area – the agent, however, was heading a group of agents, rather than herself representing us, she sent 2 young girls. The one agent was fairly good, the other was totally domineering, she was beligerant with us, called to yell at me several times and told me that she ‘had a life’ and I shouldn’t expect responses to questions on weekends, etc. She tried to bully us into accepting the first offer we received, however, on this, we stood firm, but she kept telling us that we’d never sell it at that price (the people with the first offer came back with almost full price after a few weeks). We went through a lot more crap with them, but I just wanted to get it over with… the last straw came when we had found a house we wanted to purchase, an inventory home (with great reductions in price, the builders wanted to move into the next phase, houses were going fast, within hours), but had to be prepared to put some funds down right away, non-refundable. We were waiting for the conditions on our sale to be released, had been told it was a matter of hours… we contacted one of the agents who told us they didn’t think it had been done yet, but would get back to us… we heard nothing… in the meantime, didn’t want to chance losing our money, so had to pass on the house…Sunday, we get a call from the agent, the conditions had been released the past Friday, but she’d been out of town… went right back to the builder as soon as we heard, but house was already sold… we lost out on it and, because there wasn’t much on the market (another white ‘lie’ from the agents who told us that the timing would not be a problem), we only had 6 weeks to find something, had to settle with something totally unsuitable, had been renovated by owner, and now having to do repairs to repair those renovations that looked great when we looked at it to purchase, however, things are falling apart. We refused to pay commission (other than the $4,000 deposit from purchaser)- the agents accepted that they had failed, and gave up their commission, however, the brokerage is looking for more money to pay the purchasing agent… so going to court tomorrow… unfortunately, it’s very complicated with the agents leaving the brokerage firm the week before we sold, the lead agent being charged with several counts of fraud, etc. etc. it was a mess – and we are the ones left hanging the bag… we’ve always used agents to sell our homes – have sold 4… never had this problem before, but has completely left a sour taste… not sure if I would do it again… question is, and my point is, the client (us) sees is as one payment for services rendered – the brokers see it as 2 commissions… meaning that regardless if the service was not rendered and actually cost us money, we still owe the one commission? Just not fair…

    • Melanie Piche says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your story! If you’re in Ontario, you have 10 days to change your mind when buying a new construction project (a cooling off period), so the deposit that had to be paid right away is fully refundable. I can understand how you would view the payment as one vs two (though it doesn’t sound like the Buyer agent did anything wrong, so I’m not sure why they wouldn’t get paid?) It will be interesting to see how the courts view it…good luck!

  6. I’m still so angry that I trusted our agent.
    We listed our home in the Spring and have to admit that we were making the move to get the best price for our home and possibly down size because the market was so hot. We did get many lookers but because the house faced a school our agent started telling us that it was going to be hard to sell ( this was not what he had said when he listed) and we should be happy if we get an offer.
    We did get an offer but it was low and we signed back which wasn’t accepted by the buyers. Almost at the same time we got another offer, lower than the previous offer and this is when all the haggling started. Our agent pressed us to take the lower offer. He now said he would take 2% off the commission and also give us a break on the commission on our next purchase. We still didn’t accept the low offer but signed back. This went back and forth until our agent said that the offer on the table was the last one the buyers were going to make. We said it was $5000.00 below what we would take and we would not accept anything less. This is where the con happened. Our agent said he would pay the $5,000.00 out of his own pocket just to get the deal closed. We said no because I didn’t want it coming out of his pocket. He continued to press us and finally we agreed. Only one problem, this was not in writing and you guessed right, now that the closing has come and gone our agent has amnesia. He does not return my e-mails or accept my phone calls.
    I know there is nothing we can do about this legally because it was not in writing but I’d like to know if I can write a testimonial explaining the lack of faith of our agent and hand it out in our neighbourhood?

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Oh wow, that’s a brutal story. You should definitely consider calling the broker that the agent works for, and you can always write a review on Yelp- a lot of buyers/sellers check that site for reviews before hiring someone.

      • Well, I have to eat crow. It seems that my Agent was out of town and his assistants didn’t return my call. When my Agent got back he called immediately and found that the Brokerage Office had misplaced the cheque and no one knew where it was. Our agent tracked it down and brought it over to us right away.

        My Agent is a hero after all.

  7. Michael Cassista says:

    Hello.I have been reading some of your comments on what realtors have been doing.We are currently trying to sell our home since May 2013 and have had four realtors. Not one of them has brought one person to veiw our home in this amount of time. I am having some trouble beleiving that not one person would bring someone to veiw our home. I feel that this is being done deliberately.We are currently tring to sell our home on our own because we feel there isn’t any choice anymore. Our last realtor’s time is over but still has our house on mls and website and lied about removing it. This really feels like a hopelss situation. Please give us any imput on a coarse of action we could do.
    Thanks.

    • Melanie Piche says:

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having a tough go of selling your home. I’m not sure where your house in located, so I can’t speak to what is or is not normal in your neighbourhood or city. Do you know how long other homes are taking to sell? Are you priced in line with what homes in your area have been selling for? What have the 4 agents been saying is the reason your home isn’t selling? I can’t see why the agents would be deliberately not showing your home – they don’t get paid, after all, unless it sells. With respect to your home still being on MLS, you should contact the broker of record of the brokerage your home was last listed with and ensure it has been removed. And in terms of selling your current home: I believe there are 3 reasons a house does or does not sell: 1-how it’s marketed; 2-how it’s priced relative to past sales and current homes listed, and 3-how well the property shows (e.g. cleanliness staging) once a potential buyer is in the home. If you’re getting showings but not offers, it’s probably a problem with staging or price. If you’re not getting showings, it’s probably a problem of marketing or price. So much of this depends on where your home is located…

    • I to have been reading about agents as ours just quit. We had the papers ready but we really wanted to find a home before we sold. She was fine with that then today she said she does not have enough experience to help us. Then she lied to her broker saying we told her to knock on doors. I cannot believe she can lead people on then suddenly say I can’t help you. And her email was rude the way she said it. They charge less then anyone else but if this is their service. Not right to drop a client and then lie about it to the broker. Even signed a contract stating we would pay her $1,500.00 extra if we found a private sale. And she ups and quits not very professional at all. And of course I sent her broker the emails between us but of course the client is wrong.

      • Melanie Piche says:

        Sorry to hear about your situation. This sounds like one of those ‘you get what you pay for’ situations. Best of luck getting the home sold!

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Not at all! It’s just hard for me to comment about what to expect when your house is not in a market I know (I’m assuming it’s not in Toronto given how long you’ve been on the market). I wish I could be of more help…but you should definitely contact the broker about your old listing.

  8. My property was re-listed without my approval. The agent/brokerage firm fraudulently signed my Listing Agreement for July to October 2014 and increased their commission to 6% without my knowledge. I spoke to them about my concerns and have clearly asked to have my listing removed from MLS and to also remove their sign of my property. I was told it would be taken care of. As of today August 22nd, nothing has been done. I’ve been trying to find a new agent but because the code of ethics is so strong in the real estate community … they are all telling me I have an agent and to let them know when my listing is clear. I reviewed the RICO site but I don’t know how long the process would take to have this resolved plus I don’t have the luxury of time anymore. I have to get my house sold … soon.
    Do I have any rights here? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    • Melanie Piche says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through this. Start by calling the Broker of Record at the brokerage you are listed with (you should be able to call and ask for him/her or Google it). They should take care of it for you instantly. The RECO process can be long, but if the code of ethics has been violated, they are the best ones to make sure this agent doesn’t do this again. In terms of talking to other agents, the code doesn’t allow realtors to “interfere” with another realtor’s client or listing, but you can invite them in to discuss their services (you just can’t talk about the specifics about what is happening with your current agent). Good luck!

  9. Hello!
    I have quick question.
    My fiancé and I separated, we had a property together that we had bough 18 months before our breakup. Our condo was on the market for about 3 months before we received an offer 10K under the asking price [and also 10K less that the price we bought it at]. We both accepted the offer – like in a lot of separation cases, you want to move as fast as possible.
    Less than 2 days after signing the offer, I learned that my ex had bought a house with his new partner with the same agent that was the offering agent on our condo !
    She was obviously aware of the situation and that we were in a rush to sell. I find this very unethical, and would not be surprised if some kind of deal was made regarding commissions…
    I would love to have your thoughts !
    Thank you 🙂

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Sorry you’re going through all this! If there was an agreement to cut commission based on the sale of your condo,then that should be disclosed to you. Otherwise, the agent is bound by confidentiality to your ex and his partner and wouldn’t be allowed to disclose their purchase to you. Definitely an uncomfortable situation though, I can see why this hurts. I guess on the bright side though, at least a buyer was found for your place?

  10. Pete Johnston says:

    Hi my name is Pete Johnston.I have a question my friend is my agent and commission was agreed in contract at 4% if he sold it and 5% if sold by another agent

    We accepted an offer on our home yesterday and upfront Dave disclosed it was another agent who wants to purchase the home.
    My question to my agent was since you sold it direct, is it only 4%,he replied that since it was between two agents it is still 5%.Is this right? So I am paying the agent commission of $8200 (half of $16,400 based on selling price) to buy my home?
    My agent is a great guy and if I have to pay the 5% so be it,I just want to make sure it is legit

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Congratulations on your sale! It sounds like your agent offered you a frequently-seen commission structure, where a discount applies if the buyer is one of listing agent’s own clients. The other agent (who in your case is also the buyer) represented himself, so he’d be entitled to the full commission, so 2.5 to your agent, and 2.5 to the other agent. Had your agent sold it to one of his own clients, he would have received the full 4%, but because another agent was involved, the total would be 5%.

  11. Paul Charland says:

    Hi, my name is Paul. I am the executor of my father’s estate. About a year and a half ago I had his house assessed by a certified Market Value Appraiser. Last summer I put the house up for sale through a different agent. He said the market was slow and would put the house up for less then the appraisal. The market was slow but has picked up. I kept the price at what the current price suggested by the realtor, and suggested if it hadn’t sold by the end of June we drop the price, he agreed at the time but has been pressuring me to drop it now. Me two siblings are also equal beneficiaries, they want their money as soon as possible and if that means dropping the price to whatever, they are OK with that. In the last few days my brother took it upon himself to call the agent and they discussed dropping the price. In the last day or two they did a three why call and not only did they discus pressuring me to drop the price but how I was the cause of the agent not being able to sell the house.

    Has the agent broken any ethical real estate laws, or broken any confidentiality laws? The estate is the one who hired him to sell the house, not the beneficiaries, I would have thought the estate would be the only ones he would discuss the price with, not trying to get me to drop the price for a quick commission through my siblings.

    Paul

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Sorry to hear this is happening to you. I can fully understand why you are uncomfortable with the situation. Realtors do have confidentiality obligations and I think you’re right in pointing out that the estate is the client (and thus you, as the executor). If you don’t feel you can trust your agent, I think you should start by having that conversation with him and being upfront about how you feel. If you aren’t satisfied by that, consider talking to the broker of record of the brokerage the agent works for and see if they can resolve the situation to your satisfaction. You could of course make an official complaint to RECO (I have no idea how they would rule), but that might just prolong the strife with your siblings. We unfortunately see situations arise with siblings quite frequently with estate sales…hopefully you’ll be able to sort it all out without long-term damage to the relationships.

        • Melanie Piche says:

          I was afraid you might say that! If you feel you can’t trust him and that he doesn’t have the estate’s best interests at heart, you could always ask him to cancel the contract…

  12. Paul Charland says:

    Hi Melanie.

    I’ll talk to him first and see what he has to say about the situation, but I’ll keep the cancellation idea in mind.

    Thanks again,

    Paul 🙂

  13. Hi there,
    I really like your blog, very informative!
    Quick question – who is responsible for my rather long winded story:
    We bought a house in 2013, and only in 2014 did we find out that the marked areas within the existing fences (apx 30 years old) was not “technically” included in the sale, even though that square footage was not marked as separate, it was advertised as a “fully fenced lot”, and no mention of it was made at closing. Later they admitted that they were aware that they did not own that portion. As it turned out, this strip belonged to a third party.
    I’m in the process of taking the previous owners to court to recoup the court costs that I am out, but their defense seems to be that since I didn’t request a survey, that they are not responsible. Would their listing agent, or my purchasing agent be the ones that didn’t do their due diligence?
    Thank you!

    • Melanie Piche says:

      I guess that would depend on where you live…in Toronto, very few properties have surveys, so it’s pretty unusual for them to be provided. That said, I would think your real estate lawyer would have caught that discrepancy during his/her pre-close searches (or in the alternative, you may have coverage if you bought Title Insurance). Ontario laws do require sellers to disclose material information that may impact a buyer’s decision to purchase, so I’m not sure a judge would put that onus on you/your agent. I hope you’ve engaged a litigation lawyer to help you through this – good luck!

  14. Hello,

    I’ve sold my home and am looking to downsize. We’ve put in offers on three different homes for sale in our preferred area. It turns out all three home we’ve been interested in were listed by the same realtor. The first two homes had multiple offers so we didn’t realy gave it much thought and moved on to the next property.

    Our concern is with the last home we made an offer on.
    We were the first to view the home and made an offer $6000 over asking price. This was on a Thursday when the home was first listed. The sellers realtor informed our realtor that the owner was on vacation and would not be able to consider the offer until Friday at 11 am.
    On Friday morning the sellers realtor informed my realtor that the offer would not be presented until Saturday at 11 because the seller had flown in on Friday night.

    On Saturday morning my realtor was informed that they would not be able to present the offer until sunday because she (the realtor) would be out of town. At this point we were told that our offer was the only one on the table. The sellers realtor then contacted my realtor Saturday afternoon saying that they now had multiple offers being presented on Sunday.

    We feel that this realtor is not being very ethical and would like to file a complaint for further investigation. Any suggestions?

    • Melanie Piche says:

      To be honest, I can’t tell if any ethical violations have occurred based on your message, though this sounds like a really unpleasant situation. Was the new offer on Sunday one of the listing agent’s own buyers? Did the agent delay presenting your offer so they could receive the total commission by bringing th buyer? Was the listing agent instructed by their client to avoid offers for a few days or did the agent neglect to present your offer? Did your agent have the sellers sign a document that proves that the offer was presented? What was the irrevocable time of your offer and did it expire during the delay (and if so did you re-submit a valid offer?) There are lots of factors involved in determining if the code of ethics was breached. Here’s a link to the RECO website that can guide you through making a complaint if you decide to:http://www.reco.on.ca/complaints-enforcement/

  15. I have to say this blog is very interesting and I am going through the process of selling my house. The house is sold the my agent and myself found out a month after all the conditions have been waived that the agent is actually acting on behalf of her parents, which based on my recent research is against the standards of business practice. I have dealt with the agent pushing back at me 3 times now for different reasons trying to get out of the deal.

    What if any course of action do I have regarding the unbelievable stress and harassment that I have had to endure do to the buyers agent/daughter?

    • Melanie Piche says:

      The agent should have disclosed that she was related to the buyer (there’s a special form for that). You could make a complaint to the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) – you could also call her Broker of Record to complain. I suspect you would have still sold your house to that buyer if you’d known they were related to the agent, so I’m not sure that a disclosure would have prevented the pain you’re going through…best of luck!

      • And what about them threatening to cancel the deal on 3 separate occasions, is that not harassment for the undue stress they have put me through?

        • Melanie Piche says:

          That’s a better question for your lawyer…many Buyers play games and threaten to get out of a deal – your agent and lawyer who would have all the details would be able to give you advice on this one.

  16. My friend is a 73 year old lady who had a house in Northern Ontario. She wanted to sell it, any contacted her friend – who is the realtor. The agent took her to see houses – and it seems she really came on to the senior lady, and suggested she buy a house that the realtor new was on the market. Now the realtor is also the agent for the seller. The senior lady (I think), was persuaded by her realtor friend to buy this house.
    The senior says that she was somewhat pressured to buy. It is NOT a new home.
    Long story short – the senior lady bought the house – but only had 30 days to get out of her current home.
    Seems to me – the agent pressured her to sell her house – then again pressured her to buy the new one.

    Apparently this happened regularly in Northern Ontario and when the realtor is acting for two or three people at the same time, things can be missed. This realtor sold the senior lady’s home…and sold the newer home the senior was to buy. Is this not a conflict of interest, seeing the agent can really CONTROL the entire selling of BOTH homes. The senior lady did not have an inspection done, and as it turns out – there are MANY electrical, pluming and other issues with the house she bought. I can not believe the agent could not be aware of all the issues with the house, and did not tell the Senior lady.

    Why is there no cooling off period when one buys a home OTHER than a new one?

    The papers are already signed and of course, the senior lady is VERY upset with her new purchase now that she has found out that there are so MANY problems. AND HOW CAN SOMEONE SELL A HOUSE WHEN ALL THESE ISSUES ARE THERE AND THE OWNER HAD TO KNOW THEY WERE THERE ?

    Can the senior lady do anything? This was about 20 days ago.

    Thanks

    Rod

    • Melanie Piche says:

      She should talk to her lawyer right away. In Ontario, REALTORS are allowed to represent both the buyer and the seller and there is no cooling off period, but there may still be issues with how things were handled. She could also contact the Real Estate Council of Ontario and/or the agent’s Broker of Record if she feels she wasn’t treated fairly.

  17. Paul Charland says:

    I’m the executor of my father’s will, I’m down to selling his house. We had an offer and settled on a price, but now weeks later the buyer can not get a mortgage as he had not disclosed some of his finances when he got a pre-approved mortgage at the beginning of this. I’m wondering what happens to his deposit. I can find lots on the net about if there is conditions not met by the seller (me), the buyer gets his deposit back. Where does the deposit go when it’s the buyer not completing the deal and as a result the house has effectively been off the market for the last five weeks while the buyer tries to sort his financed out?

    Thanks for any help,

    Paul

    • Melanie Piche says:

      You’ll want to talk to your lawyer about that…there isn’t a clear cut answer, but usually a seller is entitled to damages (and often settles for the deposit) if someone backs out of a firm deal. Give your lawyer all the details and he or she should have a good recommendation for you. Good luck!

  18. Melanie – your willingness to discuss and advise on issues is greatly appreciated and very informative.
    Just want to clarify if our Realtor’s actions were permissible or not.
    We recently learned that an offer was made on our home (which was a Victorian six plex – we occupied one of the apartments) which was not presented at all by our Realtor during the course of the sale 18 months ago.
    Ironically, we met the individual through friends, that made the offer and have obtained a copy of it. The offer was close to the asking price and would have been acceptable by us. It is dated a few days before our Realtor made an offer at a significantly lower price on behalf of his one of the brokers at his real estate firm and consequently due to a slow market we were exhausted, exasperated and accepted. (especially after being informed by him that we just wouldn’t do any better).
    There was then a series of delays over six weeks for the broker to acquire the finances for the purchase.
    Finally, at closing, our Realtor imposed both a buyer and seller commission which we rejected and after great debate they rescinded.
    I understand there is a two year statute to take legal action. I’m interested whether the events of this transaction smells fishy to you and if you recommend that we seek compensation for the loss via legal recourse. We now have about 2 months to do so. In my (unprofessional) opinion, the documentation we have acquired suggests that the sale was manipulated for the benefit of his colleague and perhaps boss.

  19. I have a quick questions to ask if someone can help me
    my agent did not give me the copy of the deal. the paper work I signed is still with the agent and he refuse to give it to me. we verbally agreed on commission but when I went to do closing and was going through my numbers he had charged me more. I asked for the paper work wanting to see what I had signed for but I was told that at the time I signed the documents the commission part was left blank for the agent to fill out later. I feel cheated and horrified by the fact that the agent refuses to give me my copy of the deal. I complained to the brokerage and their answer was “why did I go with this agent”
    If I go to RECO will they listen to my complain. I got hit money wise but I felt cheated that that’s what is bothering me. they cheated me one by changing the commission and two by not providing me with my copy of the deal.

    • Definitely talk to RECO – agents have to give you a copy of all documents signed (and you shouldn’t have been asked to sign a blank document). It’s sad that the brokerage didn’t respond in the right way – but definitely make a complaint. Good luck!

  20. I need some help here! I listed my condo via property guys (who I have been very happy with btw) and I have had several open houses and showings. However, during my last showing the agent that arrived (please note I am present during each showing and open house) ended up breaking my property. He opened a double sliding door closet a little too aggressively and ended up displacing the knob to my washing machine. We (myself, the agent and his buyer) all heard the loud “crack” when he did this. At the time I didn’t realize the extent of damage as I thought the knob had just fallen off and could be re-attached.

    I got a quote today for the repair and it is costing me $540! I quite honestly cannot afford to cover this seemingly how I wasn’t even responsible for the damage. What are my rights? Of course this was a “mistake” by the realtor. Accidents can happen. However, I can’t pay $540!!!!

    I tried calling and speaking with the manager Century 21 who the realtor belongs to. The manager ended up saying that there is nothing she can do and passed the buck back to property guys. Property guys told me that it is on Century 21. I’m just getting passed back and forth here. I would really appreciate to know what my rights are. Please help.

    • I don’t think there’s a clear cut answer to this, but in any case that I’ve seen, the listing brokerage usually pays for the damage – not necessarily because they are required to by law, but because it’s just the right thing to do. I’ve never heard of a buyer’s agent paying for this kind of thing….but this is just my opinion – I don’t think there’s an actual law that would cover this.

      • Property Guys is a service where you pay a flat fee instead of 1-2.5% that you’d typically be looking to pay for listing with an agent. As a result I don’t think they will be able to cover me.
        I guess I’m out $540.

        I’ll try to read their fine print though.

  21. Melanie, your replies back to readers’ questions are greatly appreciated. I’ve just recently felt cheated on by our landlady and her agent.
    We’ve been renting on a monthly basis for 2 months after our year lease ended in July. Our current lease expires today, and our landlady has cashed our rent cheque for the full month. So we technically have the property until end of Sept, although we moved out in the middle of September. It was agreed with her agent that we would be reimbursed on rent should they sign on new tenants for the remainder of September.
    We went back on 9/28 to clean the house before handing it back but noticed new tenants have already moved in. We weren’t notified of any arrangement prior to this. Should they have not given us prior notice to come into the property that we still technically have until end of the month? We were lucky we have moved out our belongings well before this. The new tenants told us they signed an MLS agreement to start renting on Oct 1st, but they paid rent from 9/23 and moved in 9/25. Our utilities accounts are to be transferred out today, and agent and landlady knew of that.
    What recourse can we now take? The landlady’s agent lied to us that she knew of nothing about the arrangement, but new tenants told us they were dealing with her directly. The agent’s tone is that we’re stirring up trouble by asking for rent reimbursement. But if we paid for the whole month’s rent, how could they have just moved people in without our prior knowledge? Your opinion is greatly appreciated.

  22. There is a property that I would like to by in NJ. I saw this property online. I had been working with a broker who basically was very busy and I could not get her to show me the property at the time I had. I looked up the listing agent and had him make a phone call to the owner, who then showed me around. I liked the property and told the listing agent that I already had a broker who I wanted to work with. The listing agent basically said that since I came to him I cannot use my agent and that I would not be allowed to purchase the property and less I used them as a dual agent. I told the listing agent that I was not comfortable not having my own agent but he refused to allow my agent to come to the table. My lawyer told me that If he does not allow my agent to help me that I should walk away from the deal

  23. We purchased a home 2 years ago and when we bought the home it was listed with “deeded Beach rights” and backing on to EP ( environmentally protected land ). At closing we find out that indeed we do not have either, and our lawyer tells us if we do not proceed with the close we could be sued as nothing was written on a purchase agreement. This is only the 2nd home we have bought so how are we to know what goes on a purchase agreement. We notify both our agent and the listing agent ( both working for a local Remax office ) and they say that yeah they knew but too late as they say the people we bought from told them inaccurate information.

    We took it to RECO and complained, it took a year and they both were fined and have to take ethics courses.

    Now we are taking them to small claims court (we cant afford a lawyer to sue) and we are suing both realtor for the commission back and for over paying for a home that does not now have deeded beach rights and backing on to EP land. They have a lawyer and a good one, we were in court a few weeks ago as their lawyer got the “RECO decision” unadmissable in court as they say it will give them an unfair trial 🙁 So now we go to court this Friday Oct 16th for the settlement hearing. We simply are scared that the Laywer will be going for blood and need advise on where we need to focus on? We have all the RECO code of ethics and have all the evidence we took to RECO but are fearful that the Lawyer knows the Lawyer sitting in on the settlement hearing ( small town ) this whole thing is so stressful 🙁 any assistance would be so greatly appreciated.

  24. Hi,

    I have a question about timing of when sold prices are published. I am trying to sell my property and the house next door just sold. It was sold conditional before, but it was firmed up yesterday. When I asked my agent what is the sold price, he said that the other agent won’t disclose it until it closes in January. Does that make sense? I thought there would be a rule where once a sale is firm, the sale price would need to be disclosed regardless when is closing. What is that timeline?

    My property is in a mixed use retail/residential multi unit building.

    Thanks,
    Kristy

    • Melanie Piche says:

      It’s not unusual for commercially-zoned property prices not to be reported until they are closed. If the property was listed on an MLS, then the MLS may have rules as to when property prices need to be disclosed, but if it was an exclusive listing, then they don’t need to disclose it to anyone.

  25. Hi Melanie , (Great thread : )
    Over the last 3 years we have become privy to all kinds of information regarding renovations on a home that the owners are doing before selling the property. The corners that have been cut, safety standards ignored, permits avoided and rules that have been broken amount to nothing short of a scam. Is there any way for us to alert the public to these facts so that unsuspecting buyers aren’t scammed. Thanks so much for any advice

  26. I wish to relay my disastrous real estate story to bring attention to the plight of sellers when a transaction goes horribly wrong. In the spring of last year (Mar 2015) I put my modest condo on the market, I had an agent that provided sound advice and we had and continue to have a good working relationship.

    My condo was reasonably priced and within a short time I had several showings. In April I received an offer, after establishing the conditions and a fair price I accepted. At no time was I going to entertain a conditional offer, it was early in the season, I had yet to start looking for a new home, I had no reason to accept or entertain a conditional offer. We established a closing date (27 Aug 2015) to accommodate the Buyer, which at the time I thought was rather long but it suited my purposes as well. The only glitch for me was as a result of the long closing I had to arrange bridge financing, which would become a nightmare.

    The conditions attached to the offer were as follows;

    – A home inspection, which was fulfilled with no issues being raised;
    – Status Certificate for the condo corp, which was fulfilled, no issues raised;
    – The Buyer obtaining a mortgage/financing, which was not fulfilled, but I was not made aware until very much later, too late!

    Over the course of the next several weeks I purchased a new home based on the sale of my current home and got busy planning my life in my new home. As the closing date approached I contacted my lawyer to ask if I could drop off keys, sign documents as I was going on vacation.

    It was as a result of that request I was made aware the Buyer was not likely to close, in fact on the day, she didn’t show up. All of a sudden I was left to scramble to make a mortgage payment that I had not anticipated making, I was responsible for the condo fees, utilities, property taxes, all of it.

    I won’t go into the agonizing weeks that followed, but I want to tell you about the Buyers real estate agent deleting the financing condition! The Buyer had not sold her home in Winnipeg! The Buyer’s agent knew on the 21 of April that the sale was at risk and she should have known what a terrible risk that I was being placed under. But I was completely unaware.

    There is plenty of blame to go around, my lawyer for not catching the deletion of the financing condition, for not providing due diligence, the Buyer for being reckless and stupid, the Buyers agent’s unscrupulous tactic for which I have launched a formal complaint with RECO.

    All this to say, in all this mess, it is I, the Seller who relied upon and trusted the professionals and everywhere I turn there is no help to be had. I have to sue the Buyer, pay the lawyers, carry a second home, try to come up with the money to repay the bridge loan. I am financially crippled as a result of this fiasco.

    My purpose in this email to start a campaign to bring awareness that Sellers need protection as well. Deposits should be increased substantially, Agents should be required to disclose if their client is financially capable of closing the transaction, perhaps vetting their clients more carefully would be in order.

    I would appreciate any advice/feedback so that my voice can be heard to prevent others from suffering the damage to their financial future, their health and wellbeing as I cannot begin to articulate the stress and mental anguish I continue to suffer as a result of gross negligence and unethical practises.

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Oh that sounds like a terrible story! Unfortunately while agents can do some due diligence around the financial stability of their client, we don’t actually have access to their personal financial records, so we are limited in what we can do. I’m not sure I fully understand how a clause was deleted (after you signing it?), but even when people have financing conditions and waive them, occasionally they still run into problems and can’t close come closing day. You’re right in that big deposits can help – it’s hard for a Buyer to walk away from 5% of the purchase price for example – but damages can still exceed the deposit amount. It’ll be interesting to see RECO’s/the court’s take on the situation – best of luck with everything!

  27. Fairly cut and dry example of misrepresentation, and we are in the mediation stage of our claim against the listing agent and our agent. Long story short, a previously accepted offer had fallen through. During the negotiation process the listing agent requested we drop the home inspection condition, and told our agent the previous offer had fallen through due to financing, and that the previous purchasers had conducted a home inspection which showed no issues with the house. Flash forward, there were indeed significant structural defects with the home, and the previous offer had fallen through because the home inspection uncovered them. We now have the agents original listing sheet which shows that no financing condition was present on the previous offer, only a home inspection condition. We have also subpoenaed the previous home inspection, and obtained a statement from the previous purchasers confirming that they discovered the defect, and demanded their deposit back as a result. The whole scenario is quite egregious, and we believe our agent either colluded with the listing agent at worst, or was woefully negligent at best as she failed to disclose the actual conditions contained in the previous offer. The listing agent and sellers were in possession of these facts when they asked us to drop our inspection condition. Our agent was also aware (from the listing entry) that no financing condition was present on the previous offer, yet assured us this was the reason the previous had fallen through.

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Unfortunately, they do not. It’s entirely up to the seller if they decide to accept an offer and it’s not unusual for sellers in Toronto right now to want higher than the asking price. I hate it too.

      • I recently had my house listed for sale in Richmond Hill. After 20 days on the market and my house being left open and unlocked three times by three different agents I took it off the market. Even when I was 100% certain of who the agent was (only one showing that day) they deny it. Is there not some responsibility or code of conduct that a registered real estate agent must abide by? Do they not know or care that, although my house is for sale, it’s still my home and the place where I reside?
        Should these agents be reported to the Real Estate Company or Broker that employee them? Or is this common practice?
        If I ever list my house again, there will not be a lock box allowed that’s for certain.

        • Melanie Piche says:

          Unfortunately, it does happen, but I wouldn’t say it’s common. By all means, you can report them (though the usual penalty for these kinds of things is an apology letter).

    • Melanie Piche says:

      No, the Seller never ‘has’ to sell the property. Frequently sellers get full price, no condition offers and decide they want a higher price and stay on the market.

  28. mike plandowski says:

    …so whats my recourse. ….I gave highest, cash, offer. Preselected buyer had to be nudged to bring his up to MLS$, …got a weeks extension for financing, whilst, self, not even 5 min for the largely immaterial home inspection my (2nd), Realtor recommended. …(lot alone worth the asking price).

    Listing agent refused enquiries on by behalf from TWO, realtors, causing me a 3 1/2 week delay, after listing, to my, finally, …(no info as to neighborhood, livability condition of old house, ) …. speculatively making 10 hour trip to inspect, ….then fall in love w. the place. ….(because of location, yard, mature trees, etc.)

    ….I was then, given only 4 hours, to make my offer to their alleged deadline. ….(but the PRE SELECTED, low baller, party received their weeks, financing extension).

    I would to see this sale set aside as I believe this sleazy, secretive contract to be unenforceable!

    regards

    ??????????/

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Sounds like a frustrating situation! The Seller does get to choose who to sell their home to, and sometimes that’s influenced by factors not related to the highest price or conditions (eg closing date, somebody they already know, etc.).

  29. Appreciate your help on this one!

    We had an accepted offer on a our dream house…a rural home with conditions for inspection (5 days) and water quality (7 days). The inspection showed significant issues with water damage etc. The inspection report was sent to the sellers agent and they agreed to lower the price by $100K. Their agent insisted on drafting the amendment and delayed sending it to us by a day.The amendment waived the inspection clauses even though we had two days left but we agreed since we had completed them. We were surprised to see it was not signed by the seller but signed right away and sent it back for them to sign. I noticed that she had put a sign back date of the next day at midnight for her clients. I questioned this and she assured our agent that it was a “done deal” and that her clients had personal commitments and would not be able to sign until the next day. The next morning we get a call that they have another offer and want us to increase our offer. It was obvious that she had set up this whole situation to make way for another offer. Thinking that she probably had a high offer (as she would not tell us how much more they wanted) we decided to back out. We found out recently that the house sold for only $30K higher than what we had agreed to post inspection. So it was obvious she had told the buyers what to offer since this was still $100K below asking price. The house had been on the market for 4 months with no registered offers. We feel she probably called up other buyers (maybe someone from their own brokerage) that had made low offers before and told them what to offer (including waiving inspections) to secure the house. Because of the delays with inspections, negotiations and waiting for them to sign back we were not able to put offers on two other houses in the same area that we really liked. Now so late in the season there is hardly anything on the market and since we sold our house we had to settle for a much smaller house for the same price. I do partly blame our agent (who we fired shortly after that) for being so gullible and not protecting our interests but I also feel she acted unethically and unprofessionally. Should we pursue legal action and complain about her? TIA!

    • Melanie Piche says:

      You can certainly ask for clarification of what happened (and involve her broker), but you’d need proof that she did something that violated the rules – just suspecting it won’t be enough. Good luck!

  30. Question: If when buying I get an offer accepted by the buyer and there is a conditional offer on the table already, how long does the selling agent have to place the first buyres on notice??

  31. Double ending Agent (multiple representation) was forcing me to remove inspection condition, seller does not want repairs. during this process Realtor swear (f– words) at me over the phone. Can I file complaint in RECO about this realtor.

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Anyone can file a complaint, whether or not you win will depend on the merits of the case. Realtors are bound by a Code of Ethics which requires them to be professional…

      • I already inform his Broker of Record, Broker apologies for agent behavior, but Agent still playing games. Did not apologies !! Realtor earn $16000 from buyer representation of just one house. And in returns unethical offer presentation, Swearing, attitude, arrogance. What type of Code of Ethics realtor learn in school and Broker of Record protecting these agents. Unacceptable. RECO is only my source. any advise would be helpful.

  32. Maria Mendes says:

    Hi… I hope you can help me. We listed a rental property located in the GTA area with a real state agent. His charges were 1% to list and 1% if he sold the house. However, if the house was sold by someone else, we woul have to pay the selling agent 2.5%. After we signed the agreement to sell and before he placed the house on MLS he came back to us with a contract to sell privately since “another agent” in his office had found a buyer. That meant that we had to pay commissions of 1% + 2.5%. We agreed to the transaction to find out a few days later after the contract was finalized and through our tenenats that he was the only real state agent showing the house to the buyers, working out all the paper work for the sale and even doing all the paper work for a new lease on behalf of the new buyers (the buyers would keep the our existing tennents). The issue here is that “the other real state agent in his office responsible for the purchase” was his wife – which he never disclosed to us. Trully in our eyes, based on all the facts – the wife was never involved in the showing, all paper work was completed by him, he even worker with exiting tennant to create a new lease on behalf of the buyer to keep existing tenant etc., etc. tells us that the only reason he used his wife was to make 2.5% vs. 1% in the selling. When confronted with all facts, he told us that his code of ethics did not require him to disclose that the “other” sells person in his office was his wife. He swear that his code of ethics only requires him to tell us that some one from his office represents the buyer. We are having a problem believing this comment since there is clearly a conflict of interests involved. Can you please provide your thought on this issue. Was he required to disclose?…what are our recourses?……..

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Did he have to disclose that the other agent was his wife under the code of conduct? That’s a great question for the Real Estate Council of Ontario. In m opinion, he certainly SHOULD have – even if it wasn’t required by the Code. More importantly, did she actually represent the Buyer or did he, irrespective of who’s name is on the deal? This sounds shady even if it’s within the definitions of the code. I’d suggest you contact RECO and this agent’s broker. Sorry to hear this happened…

  33. Hello, We just listed our home in London Ontario and it seems like we are not getting many showings where other houses around us are selling instantly! Our agent is not the nicest guy and its been a little difficult but we don’t want to go thru finding another agent because we have not enough time to sell. My question is can my agent not tell us about offers or not book showings from other agents? I feel like I can’t trust him now. Also we came from Toronto and there the real estate office calls the owner to confirm bookings and here in London our agent said that he will call me himself. Do agents call other agents to book appt or the office? thanks so much in advance for you help!

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Your agent should tell you about showings and offers, though the appointment process can vary by office. I don’t know how it works in London, but in Toronto, agents normally call the office and the appointment is confirmed to the other agent’s office. It seems that it would be to your agent’s advantage to show the property as much as possible given he won’t get paid if it doesn’t sell….it sounds like you need to have an honest discussion with him and if that doesn’t work, consider reaching out to his broker. Best of luck!

  34. I have to tell you, if you are lucky enough to work in an area where the local board of Realtors is not corrupt, then you are lucky enough… I happen to work in a market where the local board passes ethics violation complaints under the table for their good friends, and only enforce the code against people who aren’t in their inner circle. It doesn’t matter if the complaint is filed by a consumer or a fellow Realtor. Imagine what I think when it’s time to take ethics CE’s, locally? The last thing I can stomach is to take ethics classes from dirty and corrupt Realtors. Just watching them stand there and talk about ethics, when I just witnessed them sign documents ‘for their buyer’, witnessed them rule on an ethics matter by issuing a ruling that is counter to state law because they were friends with one party , witnessed a fellow Realtor who was on the Professional Standards Board get a slap on the hand from the legal system for stealing from a client, and who got NO ethics discipline AT ALL. What I’m saying is, ethics is an inside job, and you can’t count on ethics classes or the ‘example’ of others to train other agents. Either someone is ethical, or they aren’t. It seems that ethical behavior can’t be taught, and I know we don’t have anyone to look up to that shows the image of what an ethical Realtor should conduct themselves like, in my market. I believe that it is the fault of weak local professional standards boards that we are all stuck working with unethical people in our profession, because no one has the courage to enforce the code, at the local level. As for NAR, they have no room to complain, because they don’t force local boards to actually abide by the code, either. They are just as guilty. I am reminded of the teamsters unions. They’re not really out for the individual, or the community, at all. It is no wonder we have so many unethical Realtors out there, and I think we all have to continue to have our industry denigrated by slime bags, because of the weakness of local, state, and national boards of Realtors. I wish NAR would spend less of my money telling people how ethical Realtors are and more money enforcing the code, and professionalism.

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