B.C. taking over regulation of real estate

A new Superintendent of Real Estate will take over regulation of the B.C. industry, Premier Christy Clark said last Wednesday.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Finance Minister Mike de Jong.

A new Superintendent of Real Estate will take over regulation of the B.C. industry, Premier Christy Clark said last Wednesday.

Clark and Finance Minister Mike de Jong said the current industry-led Real Estate Council of B.C. will be replaced by a board with a majority of “public interest, non-industry members,” and fines for real estate misconduct are to be increased.

Clark said the maximum fine for individuals will go to $250,000, and twice that for real estate brokerages. The government is adopting all the recommendations of an independent advisory group, including banning realtors from representing both buyer and seller in a transaction.

“The real estate sector has had 10 years to get it right on self-regulation and they haven’t,” Clark said.

Clark said there will be more changes announced in the next few weeks to help people get into the real estate market in urban areas where house prices are spiralling.

In his latest budget, de Jong increased the property purchase tax exemption level from $475,000 to $750,000 for new homes only, and increased the tax rate from two to three per cent on the value of homes in excess of $2 million.

Clark was non-committal on a proposal by the City of Vancouver to impose a tax on vacant homes.

She said the province is studying whether it has a role to play in such a tax, and repeated the federal housing minister’s position that all levels of government are needed to deal with housing affordability.