The B.C. government’s decision to ban the practice of limited dual agency is coming under fire from Realtors in the province.

“Every day, Realtors help their clients understand real estate transactions, so they can make informed decisions,” says British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) president Jim Stewart in a news release. “Over my nearly 25-year career as a Realtor, many long-standing clients have developed trust with me, and now my clients have no choice but to start from the beginning and build new relationships. Trust is a crucial part of what is often the largest financial transaction in people’s lives.”

The draft proposal from the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate prohibits the practice of dual agency, except in “remote locations that are under-served by licensees.” The proposal has been provided for public comment and is to take effect on Jan. 15, 2018.

BCREA points out that limited dual agency is used in cases where Realtors have established relationships with buyers and sellers, in commercial transactions and in situations where Realtors specialize in particular property types.

“Rather than working with licensees they don’t know, we’re concerned people may decide to complete real estate transactions without representation,” says BCREA CEO Robert Laing. “That goes against the consumer protection mandate of the Superintendent of Real Estate and the Real Estate Council of B.C.”

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president Jill Oudil says in a statement: “Realtors support their clients and back changes that improve transparency in the real estate transaction. The new disclosure requirements proposed by the superintendent will enhance the public’s understanding of the real estate transaction in B.C. We support this aspect of the measures announced today. Where the proposed changes fall short are in respect to consumer choice.

“We believe in informing home buyers and sellers and empowering them to choose who they want to represent them in a transaction,” says Oudil. “We’re encouraged to see that government recognizes circumstances where exemptions to the ban on limited dual agency are necessary. We believe there are other circumstances where consumers should have the choice to consent to limited dual agency so long as they can demonstrate that their consent is informed. For example, people who’ve built a longstanding relationship with a Realtor shouldn’t be forced to find alternative representation in a transaction against their wishes. We’ll continue to stress this point with government.”

Lang adds: “We know consumers value the right to choose their own representatives. Over the next few days, BCREA will examine the draft rule changes carefully and consult with the 11 real estate boards to determine our next steps.”