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Teams are groups of real estate licensees who work together to provide trading services to clients, often advertising themselves under a joint name (e.g., The Smith Team).
All real estate licensees, regardless of whether they work alone or as part of a team, have obligations to their clients: to work in their clients’ interests, to protect their confidential information, to avoid conflicts of interest, among other things. When you become a client of a licensee that is on a team, all the members of the team represent you and owe you these duties. This means that all members of the team may have access to your confidential information, and that no members of the team may represent clients who have opposing interests to yours. For example, if you are selling a property, no member of the team representing you could represent a buyer interested in the property.
A real estate brokerage is a business licensed to assist consumers in buying, selling, or leasing real estate. Each brokerage must be overseen by a licensed managing broker, an experienced real estate licensee with a higher level of training who is responsible for supervising the real estate licensees within the brokerage and ensuring the business of the brokerage is carried out competently and in accordance with the regulatory framework.
In contrast, teams are a group of individuals who work together to provide trading services to clients. Each real estate licensee on a team belongs to a brokerage and is supervised by its managing broker. Teams do not have the same licensing or reporting requirements as brokerages and must abide by their brokerage’s policies and procedures.
BCFSA regularly receives complaints and inquiries from consumers and licensees about teams and team members, indicating a lack of awareness or confusion about the duties owed to clients by team members and the regulatory requirements linked to teams. This poses risks to consumers.
The amendments to the Real Estate Services Rules (“Rules”) define what a real estate team is and introduce new requirements for teams and team members. Under the new Rules, teams will need to be clearer in their advertising, and in their disclosures to clients. All teams will need to register with BCFSA and clearly indicate their team name in the course of providing trading services to clients. These changes will give the regulator more oversight of teams, will give licensees clearer guidance about how teams must operate, and will help consumers understand how real estate teams work, so they can make an informed decision when choosing someone to represent them in a real estate transaction
The new Rules amendments will not substantially change the way consumers interact and work with real estate teams. Consumers will still be able to engage a real estate team to help them buy, sell, or lease property, just as they do now. The amendments, effective April 1, 2023, are intended to improve transparency and help reduce confusion about teams that could result in increased risk to consumers.
For instance, the Rules amendments will require that:
- Real estate teams be composed of at least two licensed members;
- All real estate teams register their team with BCFSA;
- All team members only provide trading services through their team;
- Team members belong to the same brokerage and only be on one team at a time; and
- Team members clearly identify their team name in all advertising.
While many of these requirements were previously in effect, they were only laid out in guidance. By putting these requirements into Rules, BCFSA will be better equipped to enforce them to ensure that consumers are provided with the services they should expect to receive when working with a team. These Rule changes will also provide consumers and real estate licensees with a greater understanding of teams in general and how teams must operate to represent their clients’ interests.
Real estate licensees in B.C. must disclose to consumers whether they will represent them as a client, and the duties they owe to clients and non-clients. Your real estate licensee needs to disclose that they will be representing you, and because each member of a real estate team represents each of the team’s clients, they must also disclose that they are working with a team and that each team member is your agent.
BCFSA has an online Find a Real Estate Professional feature where you can look up a team name and see which licensees are members. If you are working with a real estate licensee who is on a team, they should be providing this information to you.
When you become a client of a licensee that is on a team, all the members of the team represent you and owe you certain duties. This means that all members of the team may have access to your confidential information. To protect your confidential information, the team should ensure that all other real estate licensees at their brokerage, who are not on the team, are not able to access your information.
Like every real estate licensee, each member of the team must put their clients’ interests ahead of any other party to the transaction and must even put your interests ahead of their own. Most of the other duties owed to you by a real estate licensee also contribute to the obligation they have to act in your best interest. Because each team member represents every client of the team, each team member must act in your best interest, regardless of the size of the team.
If you have been involved in a trade in real estate in which you believe a real estate licensee may have acted improperly, consider discussing your concerns with the licensee you are working with. If the matter is not resolved, you can also contact the managing broker in charge of the real estate brokerage. Use the Find a Real Estate Professional feature on BCFSA’s website to find contact information.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome after taking these steps, you should bring your concern to BCFSA. Complete a Complaint Form to send to us and attach all documentation as specified.
Keep in mind that we are not empowered to resolve commission disputes, make monetary settlements, or adjudicate contract matters. For more information, read Complaints or contact us and request a Complaints Package at (604) 660-3555, toll-free (866) 206-3030, or by email at [email protected].