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Real Estate Licensee Penalized for Falsely Advertising on MLS that GST was Included in Property Sale Price

BC Financial Services Authority has issued a $15,000 penalty and $1,800 in enforcement expenses to a real estate licensee who falsely indicated on the Multiple Listing Service (“MLS”) that the purchase price of a property was inclusive of GST, when in fact GST was separately owed.

Amber Unique admitted to professional misconduct while acting as a sellers’ agent during the sale of a $575,000 property located in Langley, B.C., in March 2021 when she:

  • Advertised on the MLS listing that the property was “move-in ready and GST is paid.” However, it was never the intention of the sellers to include GST in the list price if the tax was subsequently applicable to the sale; and
  • Failed to act honestly by removing “GST is paid” from the listing after receiving an offer on the property and not informing the buyers’ agent of the change.

A few days after the listing went live, an offer was made from a prospective buyer who inserted a clause noting the GST had already been paid by the seller. It was then that Unique’s managing broker from Shewan Real Estate (doing business as Royal LePage Wolstencroft) advised her that GST may be payable again, as the property was brand new and had never been occupied.

Unique’s broker further advised her to revise the GST clause in a counteroffer, making it clear that the buyer would be responsible for paying any GST applicable to the transaction. However, the sellers declined the revision in the counteroffer and instructed Unique to cross out the clause and replace it with a statement declaring the sellers paid GST to the developer when they bought the property. Unique proceeded with the instruction and the buyers accepted the counteroffer with the statement that GST had been paid.

The same day, Unique altered the MLS listing by removing the “GST paid” comment but neglected to inform the buyers’ real estate representative of the change.

Just over a week later, the buyers removed the subjects and learned, through their lawyer, that GST would be added to the purchase price. The GST was $28,750 and the buyers had to increase the amount of their mortgage in order to pay it.

Unique does not have any prior disciplinary history.

This BCFSA order sends a clear reminder to real estate licensees that they have a responsibility to ensure that information provided in advertising is truthful, accurate, and not misleading.

More Information

Media Contact:
Kate Bilney
Communications Manager, [email protected]
Visit: www.bcfsa.ca