EPISODE 39 – New agency rules are harming small communities

We recently sat down with our colleague Eldon Whalen who has moved his real estate business to Hazelton in Northern BC. We learned a lot about the practicalities of life in a remote area. A cell signal is not something to be relied on or expected. As a result, WiFi rules the day. Expectations regarding communication are very different.

Of course, this seems archaically inconvenient to those from a metro area. What we learned is that we all adjust to our environment. People and businesses still get by and the people have the privilege of being disconnected with the understanding that it’s normal to expect time to pass before receiving a response.

The small population of communities like Hazelton accepts limitations on communication and they accept limitations on their local options to conduct business. They may have only one cell provider, one or two internet providers to choose from, and there is maybe only one dentist, if at all. In their case, they have only two licensed real estate agents to choose from and a third (semi-retired) who will write up an offer if there is no other option.

The problem is that much of the community has decided that one of the two agents is not their first pick. They see our friend Eldon as the most competent option. Our agency rules previously allowed for both Buyer and Seller to accept “dual agency” and permit an agent to act for both of them, within limits. That option was removed in the wake of the fear put into consumers by Metro area agents who duped unsuspecting Sellers.

Today’s rules say that although a Buyer who has worked with Eldon for months, built up trust and rapport, she or he cannot buy a house with Eldon if the Seller chooses to hire Eldon as their representative. This is a tough one. Eldon accepts the listing because he can’t know with certainty that his buyer will like the house. It all falls apart if the Buyer does like the home. Now the Seller gets to retain Eldon and the Buyer is forced to hire what they view as a second-rate option (not the consumer choice they would prefer).

Why does this hurt the consumer? Eldon has the skills, ethics and competency to professionally facilitate this transaction. That’s good for the Seller, because it achieves their primary objective, selling the home! Many agents fumble through transactions and cause them to fall apart – not good for the Seller! And what about the Buyer? Well the buyer doesn’t get the professional advice and support they were expecting.

In many ways the outcome is worse for both Buyer and Seller. They know they are in small community. They have options, but limited options. The rules in place force someone to cut ties with an established and trusted relationship in place of a new, ‘stranger’ (for lack of a better term), who may harm the whole transaction.

The purpose of the new agency rules was consumer protection. For many BC residents the result is inferior representation and greater consumer risk.

To hear more from Eldon tune in to our podcast using the player at the beginning of this article or by selecting Episode 39 of Multiple Offers – A Real Estate Show on your favourite podcast platform.