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What you should know about the listing of your new home: Ask Joe

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I bought a home several months ago, and yet the listing photos are still online in an ad placed by the seller’s brokerage. Can RECO help me get them taken down?

Yes, the Real Estate Council of Ontario can look into the matter if the brokerage hired by the home’s previous owner is unwilling — or unable — to take down the advertisement.

If your new home, and its photos, are still listed for sale, ask the seller’s real estate agent to have the ad taken down.
If your new home, and its photos, are still listed for sale, ask the seller’s real estate agent to have the ad taken down.  (Maruzhenko Yaroslav / Dreamstime)

Your first step, however, should be to get in touch with the seller’s agent and, possibly, their broker of record; that’s the person who oversees a brokerage and its compliance with the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002, and its Code of Ethics.

Most real estate brokerages want to make things right when a problem emerges and are committed to following the advertising rules that we enforce. Those rules help ensure that real estate ads are accurate, and consumers aren’t tempted with false or deceptive claims. They also exist to protect the privacy of buyers and sellers. Here are some of the basic rules:

When a home is listed for sale, the seller’s representative may market the property on the Multiple Listing Service or other websites with the seller’s permission. Once an offer has been accepted, the seller’s brokerage can then advertise that the home is now off the market and use a “SOLD” designation in their marketing.

The brokerage is allowed to run such ads until the home’s ownership changes hands. Once that happens, the brokerage can’t make any reference to the property in advertising without the new owner’s written permission. That includes posting photos of the property on the brokerage website or anywhere else.

And if the seller’s brokerage wants to include pertinent details of the transaction, such as the selling price or the closing date, it needs written permission from both the buyer and seller, regardless of who owns the home when the advertisement is published.

It sounds as though the seller’s brokerage probably forgot to remove the ad after you assumed ownership of your home. I imagine a gentle reminder of their responsibility to respect your privacy will do the trick. If that doesn’t work, feel free to contact RECO.

A final word about listing photographs: salespeople will often advise their seller clients to declutter and depersonalize their homes before a photo shoot because mostly-empty homes are easier to market.

But that’s also good advice from a personal safety point of view. If you decide to sell your home, make sure your valuables, keys and confidential information (bills, bank statements and other documents, family photos and computer passcodes, for instance) are safely hidden before the photographer takes any pictures, and personally review any photos your representative wishes to post online. You don’t want to inadvertently assist web-surfing burglars.

If you have a question for Joe about the home-buying or -selling process, please email askjoe@reco.on.ca.

Joe Richer is registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario and contributor for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @RECOhelps

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Victoria real estate agent disciplined for false advertising, encouraging cash deal to avoid taxes

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A Victoria real estate agent is facing $9,000 in fines and a 60-day licence suspension after breaking several professional rules during the sale of her father’s half-million-dollar property, according to a decision by the Real Estate Council of B.C. 

Whitney Garside’s missteps — outlined this week in a disciplinary decision posted on the council’s website — included falsely advertising the property as being almost twice its actual size and advising the buyer they could avoid the property transfer tax if they paid cash directly to the seller.

The property on Burnett Road in Victoria was being sold in 2016 by the real estate agent’s father. That relationship was disclosed and isn’t among the reasons she has been disciplined.

According to the disciplinary consent order, Garside told the buyer — whose name is redacted — that by paying $42,000 cash on the side, the value of the property could be reduced to avoid paying the property transfer tax.

That cash arrangement was not shared with Garside’s brokerage, Re/Max Camosun, a failure that contravened the Real Estate Services Act.

The council also ruled that she “failed to act honestly and with reasonable care and skill” when she advised the buyer the property transfer tax could be avoided by paying cash directly to the seller. 

The council’s discipline committee also found that Garside committed professional misconduct when she failed to recommend the seller and buyer seek independent legal advice, specifically regarding the property transfer tax and the cash agreement.

Another issue the council considered professional misconduct involved the size of the property in question.

The council ruled that Garside published false and misleading advertising and failed to act with reasonable care and skill when the property was advertised as 8,712 square feet, when in fact a portion of the lot belonged to the Ministry of Transportation, and the actual size was just 4,711 square feet.

The discipline committee ordered Garside’s licence be suspended for 60 days, which will be completed Jan. 3, 2021.

She has also been ordered to complete real estate ethics and remedial classes at her own expense.

Garside was also fined $7,500 as a disciplinary penalty and $1,500 in enforcement expenses.

She agreed to waive her right to appeal the council’s discipline committee’s decision in September.

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Frisco apartment community sells to Canadian investor

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A Canada-based investor has purchased a Frisco apartment community as part of a larger Texas deal.

The 330-unit Satori Frisco apartments opened last year on Research Road in Frisco.

BSR Real Estate Investment Trust bought the four-story rental community that was built by Atlanta-based Davis Development.

Satori Frisco was more than 90% leased at the time of sale. The property includes a two-story fitness center, a car care center, a dog park and a resort-style swimming pool.

The Frisco property sold along with Houston’s Vale luxury apartments in a deal valued at $129 million.

“BSR recently exited the smaller Beaumont and Longview, Texas, markets and also sold noncore properties in other markets,” John Bailey, BSR’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We are now using our strong liquidity position to invest in Vale and Satori Frisco, modern communities in core growth markets with the amenities our residents desire.”

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House prices on Prince Edward Island continue steady climb

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Residential real estate prices on Prince Edward Island continue to climb at a rate higher than the national average, according to the latest report from a national organization. 

The Canadian Real Estate Association released monthly figures for November 2020 on Tuesday.

They show that the average price for a resale home on P.E.I. is about 21 per cent higher than it was a year earlier. 

Only Quebec had a bigger year-over-year increase, at about 23 per cent. Overall across Canada, prices were up 13.8 per cent year over year in the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the fifth straight month, year-over-year sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019,” the report noted.

“Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of supply of homes available for purchase across most of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces means sellers there hold the upper hand in sales negotiations.”

That lack of houses coming onto the market compared to the demand means that in those provinces, there is “increased competition among buyers for listings and … fertile ground for price gains.”

There have been anecdotal reports for months that Prince Edward Island’s low rate of COVID-19 infection and looser rules around social activities have been encouraging people to buy homes on the Island. 

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