On behalf of the province's eight real estate boards and 24,000 REALTORS, the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) supports the Government of British Columbia's intent to introduce a "Homebuyer Protection Period." However, the BC Government's cooling-off period fails to meet the needs of British Columbians. A recent independent survey of 1,157 British Columbians shows that only 35 per cent of consumers support introducing a cooling-off period.
Policy should equally protect all parties involved in real estate transactions while also contributing to a smooth functioning market and improved housing affordability. But the Province's plan to amend the Property Law Act to create a cooling-off period in real estate transactions leaves BC consumers with more questions than answers," says BCREA Chief Executive Officer Darlene K. Hyde. "A cooling-off period will likely increase competition for any given property, has the potential to increase prices and does not clearly take risks to sellers into account.
Given that the Government has again announced plans for policy changes without publicly stated and evidence-based reasoning or proper consultation in advance of committing to the direction, it's no wonder that consumers don't have confidence in what they've proposed, Hyde.
BCREA urges the government to consider the following before proceeding with regulatory change:
- Any new policies should protect both buyers and sellers equally. Sellers often become buyers in a real estate transaction and the cooling-off period exposes sellers and the market in general to greater risks and uncertainty.
- Provide evidence-based reassurance that the Government's cooling-off period won't unintentionally worsen affordability.
- Ensure that consumers and the real estate professionals who support them are appropriately supported during the transition.
- As the voice of BC's 24,000 Realtors, BCREA rejects any suggestion that Realtors are not invested in consumer protection and housing affordability. On behalf of Realtors, in February 2022, BCREA presented the BC Government with a white paper with more than 30 recommendations on how to improve housing affordability and strengthen consumer protection.
A Better Way Home: Strengthening Consumer Protection in Real Estate is a white paper that incorporates findings from focus groups with consumers and Realtors, years of survey data and a detailed analysis of economic and secondary literature, including the impacts of attempted housing market interventions worldwide. Instead of a cooling-off period, a key recommendation in the white paper is the introduction of a pre-offer period of a minimum of five business days from listing during which prospective buyers could hire home inspectors of their choice, review important documents, ensure financing and complete any other due diligence prior to making an offer.
"The Realtor profession does not benefit from over-heated market conditions that leave most of their clients frustrated and discouraged, as they lose out again and again on their homeownership dreams," says Hyde. "It's time to let go of that harmful preconception and acknowledge the important contributions Realtors can make to better protecting consumers and improving housing affordability."
Seventy-one per cent of British Columbians say that Realtors should be consulted when it comes to developing and implementing policy impacting real estate markets.