Published On: Wed, Apr 17th, 2019

Realtors oppose mandatory sharing of offers among competing home buyers

Ontario real estate agents are lobbying the province against the mandatory disclosure of offers among competing home buyers in transactions involving multiple bids.

The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) sent a bulletin to its 78,000 members this week urging them to contact their MPPs to oppose the compulsory sharing of offer prices and conditions among competing buyers. That’s something the province has said it is considering as part of its planned update to the 2002 Real Esate Business Brokers Act (REBBA).

Ontario has said it is planning to update the 2002 Real Esate Business Brokers Act.
Ontario has said it is planning to update the 2002 Real Esate Business Brokers Act.  (Graeme Roy / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE)

“Buyers and sellers should have the choice of using an open, transparent process,” said the OREA email.

It says that sharing information about competing bids could lead to the disclosure of personal financial information to any interested parties.

“The government should not force consumers to gamble their life savings in an experimental, mandated open offer process,” said the OREA email signed by association president Karen Cox.

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“Hard working realtors like you would face increased red tape,” it warned.

Under the current rules, a real estate agent can only share the details of offers with the property seller.

But consumers should have a choice if all the buyers and the seller agree, said OREA CEO Tim Hudak.

Making the disclosure of offers mandatory “would be a radical change in the real estate market that does not exist anywhere else in North America,” he said.

“This would invoke a brand new process for every real estate transaction where brokers would have to distribute offers to all the other buyers,” said Hudak and that means sharing prices, deposit and closing information, right down to who gets the fridge.

The buyers’ addresses would be included in each of the offer documents, as well as conditions around the need to sell another home or the amount of cash that buyer has on hand for a deposit.

Some sellers would agree to share offer information based on their ideas of fairness for buyers, said Hudak. But all sellers should seek the advice of their realtor, he added.

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At least one Toronto agent says his advice would depend on whether he was representing a buyer or seller.

“If I were representing my seller I’d say, ‘no.’ Unless I was mandated to do it, I wouldn’t do it. It’s our job to protect our clients,” said Royal LePage’s Desmond Brown. “If I had a buyer I would want to know as much information as possible.”

Among its 28 recommendations for modernizing the real estate act, OREA is proposing that the government eliminate bully bids — offers that pre-empt the time the seller has set to look at bids on their home. It is also recommends the elimination of escalation clauses, offers that specify the buyer will exceed the best bid by a certain amount.

The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) said it understands, “the fairness angle,” of disclosing competing offer details. “But this will also be a tricky area for the government to attempt to legislate,” said a statement attributed to board CEO John DiMichele.

“Disclosing bids puts realtors in conflict with their seller clients,” he said.

In regard to bully bids, the government would need to either require sellers to look at all offers as they come in or not accept any until a certain date.

“We prefer less government intervention in the marketplace,” said the statement.

Tess Kalinowski is a Toronto-based reporter covering real estate. Follow her on Twitter: @tesskalinowski

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Realtors oppose mandatory sharing of offers among competing home buyers