By Philip Kocev
As an ethical, active real estate broker in Toronto who is very familiar with the concerns buyers have with multiple representation (mainly in multiple offer scenarios), I do not support the position the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) or the government (banning “double-ending” altogether) has taken. I believe this position misses the mark completely on the real issue buyers have with the current process, which I firmly believe is rooted in a lack of transparency (specifically in multiple offer situations).
OREA and our elected governments are missing a great opportunity to be forward-thinking, instead taking the easy way and rushing to mirror other models as it relates to developing a process that truly addresses the real issues consumers complain about.
While I understand that there is some merit to the position taken by OREA, I am not convinced how it would stop two Realtors from the same brokerage speaking with each other to give their buyer an advantage over a buyer from another brokerage, or for that matter two Realtors in different brokerages doing the same.
My experience with this issue is about multiple representation when there is more than one offer. Buyers (and Realtors) I speak with are more concerned about “transparency” and “fairness” in how they choose price points and terms when competing on a property. None of the recommendations address that properly. I am also not convinced that taking away a buyers’ choice to work directly with a listing agent is the answer. However, I totally agree that unfortunately there are listing agents who take advantage of this and they should absolutely be dealt with appropriately.
I am in favour of implementing some form of transparency model (not auction-style), while of course ensuring privacy is maintained, like the model suggested in REM by Rui Alves. While a transparency model represents a total paradigm shift, I strongly believe implementing a degree of transparency in the process more adequately addresses the public’s concerns.
As someone who cares deeply about public protection, home ownership and building stronger credibility and ethics in the real estate industry, I urge the government and OREA to challenge yourselves to ensure that what you are recommending is addressing the real issues consumers face. We have a great opportunity to think bold and be leaders in this matter, and not just follow models in other jurisdictions or rush to make decisions based on political might. I implore you to not waste this opportunity to make impactful and meaningful change!