The B.C. NDP has slammed the government’s reappointment of two members to the board of the Real Estate Council of B.C.
NDP housing critic David Eby called it a lost opportunity for change at a time when the regulatory agency established to oversee the conduct of B.C.’s 22,000-plus licensed real estate agents is under intense scrutiny to show it is doing enough to protect public interest.
There are 17 members on the board, of which 13 are elected by agents across B.C., one is chosen by the council as a strata owner representative, and three are appointed by the government. The terms of all three government-appointed members expire at the end of June.
On Friday, the government announced Elana Mignosa will remain in her position until 2019, and Colette Squires will do so until 2018. It’s not clear yet if the term of the third government-appointed member, Barbara Barry, will be renewed.
“It is astounding that the premier would reappoint the same people who were sitting on this council’s board when penalties were approved that are a slap on the wrist for rogue realtors ripping off British Columbians with impunity,” said Eby in a statement.
“The point is that both have been on the council during the duration of the biggest public relations scandal that realtors have had to deal with,” said Eby in a phone interview. “Why wouldn’t they choose an independent expert as a provincial appointment?”
The NDP said it will be writing to the premier to demand the replacement of all three provincially-appointed members “with new, independent experts to restore some public confidence in the regulator and the real estate profession.”
Said Eby: “If I was a hard-working realtor and my reputation was taking a beating, I’d want to have this done.”
In April, The Globe and Mail released an audio recording of Ze Ye Wu, New Coast Realty’s owner, allegedly training sales teams to talk clients into selling homes for less so that his company could re-sell them quickly for more money and reap the gain.
After this, the council issued a wide set of conditions for the company’s license. These included putting in place a new managing broker approved by the council. It was expected that this was to happen in early June.
No New Coast licenses have been suspended by the council. Homeowners continue to receive the company’s many sales pamphlets in the mail, and new signs advertising homes for sale keep appearing — some in markets not previously targeted by the company, including the Tri-Cities area. Agents associated with the company have also been promoting so-called exclusive listings via social media.
“This endorsement of the council’s failures to date is an outrage for all British Columbian families and honest realtors, but especially for those people who have complained about fraud and found that the council’s definition of discipline was ‘keep your license, and keep the proceeds,’ ” said Eby.