In hidden camera footage recently captured by CBC's Marketplace, a real estate agent, her face blurred, assures prospective buyers a home is practically theirs. "I control both sides," she says. "And before any other offer comes in to make it a multiple offer situation, I'll try to close the deal for you. I'll use my power in order to get you the house."
If these promises seem too good to be true, especially in Vancouver's blisteringly competitive housing market, that's because they are. The agent in question is blatantly breaching the code of ethics established by the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act (REBBA), which states real estate professionals can't use confidential information to give their clients an advantage, or manipulate a transaction.
According to the CBC's report, these agents are "double-ending" their commissions by representing both the buyer and the seller. While this is a fairly normal practice and can be handled ethically, what is in these videos demonstrates a breach of fiduciary duty to their seller clients, and a breach of the code of ethics between realtors. These are blatant examples of the agents working in their sole best interest, to the potential detriment of their client's outcomes.
In these situations, it is the home seller who has the most to lose.
I am disheartened, but not surprised, by this footage. Part of the issue is the Canadian real estate market's meteoric growth over the past decade, and the number of real estate professionals; in fact, the number of agents has roughly doubled a decade ago and competition is truly fierce.