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Quebec realtors face increased disciplinary cases for financial abuse of clients

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Quebec realtors are facing an increasing number of disciplinary cases amid accusations of “financially abusing” their clients, CTV News reports.

Specifically, some are being accused of taking advantage of and making a quick profit from vulnerable or elderly homeowners by buying their homes themselves for a lower (than market) price and reselling them for much more. This was found over the past few years by the disciplinary committee of the Organisme d’autoreglementation du courtage immobilier du Quebec (OACIQ), which oversees the province’s real estate brokers.

The article describes this practice as “outright financial exploitation,” according to Jacinthe Roy, executive director of large senior organization, Reseau FADOQ. It also notes that Paul-René Roy, president of the Association quebecoise des retraite(e)s des secteurs public et parapublic (AQRP) says the organization considers these practices to be “profoundly inhumane and contrary to professional ethics.”

 

Conflict of interest complaints up 12% over one year

 

It goes on to note that OACIQ spokesperson, Joanne Beauvais, explains realtors wanting to buy property from a potential client should not be signing a brokerage agreement, as under contract they must represent their client’s interests above all else, including their own needs. This is called double representation and hasn’t been allowed in the province since 2022.

In an email to REM, the OACIQ confirms that the number of conflict of interest complaints from the public jumped from over 31 per cent in 2021 to over 43 per cent the following year (this then went down to 11.3 per cent in 2023). One example cited in the article is a realtor purchasing property from two clients and making $500,000 in profit. An investigation was launched following a complaint, and she was fined $150,000 for conflict of interest.

The OACIQ shares that after conflict-of-interest cases are investigated, the syndic decides whether to file a complaint with the discipline committee. Over the past three years, the percentage of requests for assistance received by the OACIQ increased by about two per cent.

 

‘(Realtors) must perform their duties ethically, in the interests of buyers & sellers, and in compliance with the Real Estate Brokerage Act’

 

In light of the issues, the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB) released this statement on July 3: “QPAREB firmly and unequivocally denounces any illegal acts committed or that may have been committed by certain real estate brokers, as reported today and in recent months in various media forums. Real estate brokers must at all times perform their duties ethically, in the interests of buyers and sellers, and in full compliance with the Real Estate Brokerage Act.”

QPAREB president, Serge Brousseau, continues:

“This is a situation we take very seriously. We have taken note of the actions reported by the media, and we are determined to find lasting solutions that will ensure that our professional activities are practiced in an exemplary manner. For several months now, we have been working on a plan to ensure the professionalism of each and every one of our members, in full complementarity with the oversight role of OACIQ.”

 


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