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BCFSA Issues $40k Penalty to Real Estate Licensee for Failure to Act Impartially and in a Client’s Best Interests

BCFSA has found that real estate licensee Lewis Ratcliff committed professional misconduct in his dealings with a client when he demonstrated incompetence and failed to act impartially and in the client’s best interests, and has ordered Ratcliff and Lewis Ratcliff Personal Real Estate Corporation to pay a $40,000 penalty and $3,500 in enforcement expenses.

In April 2017, Ratcliff became the designated agent for a seller who did not wish to have her home listed on the Multiple Listing Service (“MLS”). Ratcliff found a buyer through his previous contacts and prepared a Contract of Purchase and Sale (“CPS”) for the property with completion and adjustment dates on June 30, 2017 and a possession date of July 1, 2017. The CPS contained multiple errors and was also subject to the buyer obtaining rezoning. That subject did not have a subject removal date.

At the same time, Ratcliff also became the designated agent for the buyer and did not fully explain to the seller that by changing from a designated agent to a limited dual agent, she would no longer have an agent in the transaction acting solely in her best interests. Subsequently, Ratcliff prepared and had the buyer and seller sign an amendment to the CPS to extend the completion, adjustment, and possession dates until after the buyer had obtained rezoning, which allowed the buyer to effectively extend the completion date indefinitely without paying a deposit. Ratcliff admitted that he did not have experience drafting contracts regarding rezoning at the time he prepared and amended the CPS.

When the seller became aware of the lack of a clear closing date, Ratcliff prepared a further amendment to the CPS which would require the rezoning subject to be satisfied by April 12, 2018. Neither the seller nor the buyer signed the amendment.

In March 2018, the seller relisted the property and entered into a new CPS with a new buyer, which also included a condition that the sale was subject to rezoning. Ratcliff took the position that the original CPS was valid and binding, and legal counsel for the first buyer indicated they intended to proceed with the purchase of the property. The municipal commission responsible for reviewing rezoning requests refused to consider rezoning during the ongoing dispute, and neither contract proceeded. The property is still owned by the seller to date.

On April 23, 2024, BCFSA accepted the Consent Order submitted by Ratcliff and determined that he committed professional misconduct under the Real Estate Services Act and the Real Estate Services Rules when he:

  • Failed to advise his client to seek professional advice on matters outside of his expertise;
  • Demonstrated incompetence in preparing and amending the CPS;
  • Failed to properly complete the limited dual agent section of the “Disclosure of Remuneration Form” as the representative for both the buyer and seller;
  • Failed to provide a “Notice to Seller Regarding Assignment Terms” form;
  • Prior to entering into a dual agency, failed to adequately explain to the seller the consequence of changing the relationship with Ratcliff from designated agency to dual agency and/or failing to recommend that the seller seek professional advice to ensure proper understanding of the agency relationship; and
  • Failed to act with impartiality while serving as a limited dual agent.

Consent Order — Lewis Neil Ratcliff

Media Contact:
Kate Bilney
Communications Manager, (778) 357-1634
Visit: www.bcfsa.ca