Enhancing Consumer Protection in B.C.’s Real Estate Market

residential homes from above near a river

BCFSA’s report, Enhancing Consumer Protection in B.C.’s Real Estate Market, contains a suite of advice on potential parameters of the Government’s proposed homebuyer protection period, commonly referred to as the cooling-off period, for residential real estate sales, as well as advice on additional measures to increase consumer protection. The report was released on May 26, 2022.

Background

On November 4, 2021, the Minister of Finance announced that the Government would implement a homebuyer protection period. Minister Robinson tasked BCFSA to consult with key stakeholders and experts. She called for BCFSA to report back with advice on potential parameters of a homebuyer protection period, as well as additional measures to strengthen protection for homebuyers.

BCFSA’s report was developed following an in-depth consultation process and with input from a wide range of participants.

On April 25, 2022, the Government passed Bill 12, amending the Property Law Act to enable the creation of a homebuyer protection period.

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    What is a homebuyer protection period?

    A homebuyer protection period provides a timeframe after an offer has been accepted when homebuyers can still legally withdraw from the purchase. During this time, a prospective buyer may conduct additional due diligence activities such as a home inspection, confirmation of financing, and seeking legal advice to help ensure they have made a well informed decision.

  • BCFSA’s Advice: Impacts Across the Lifecycle of a Real Estate Transaction

    BCFSA’s report, Enhancing Consumer Protection in B.C.’s Real EstateMarket, includes the following advice, which aims to improve protection of homebuyers across the lifecycle of the real estate transaction process:

    Parameters for a Homebuyer Protection Period

    • Three clear business days.
    • Non-waivable.
    • Narrow exemptions.
    • A modest termination fee to address the risk of frivolous offers.
    • Consider requiring disclosure of other active offers by prospective buyers.
    • Reasonable access to the property for the buyer to conduct due diligence activities such as home inspections or confirmation of financing.

    Additional Pre-Offer Period

    • In addition to a homebuyer protection period, establish a five-business-day pre-offer period— the minimum time a property can spend on the market before any offer can be accepted.
    • To further enhance transparency, require property disclosure forms, including key strata documents, be made available to prospective buyers at the time of listing or offer for sale.

    Transparent Bidding Process

    • Further explore open-bid, open-end auctions, including identification of the implications of open-bidding in B.C.’s real estate market.
    • Require the inclusion of standard optional clauses related to financing, home inspection, insurance, and legal advice in the contract of purchase and sale.

    Enhanced Disclosure Post-Sale

    • Require that sellers make an anonymized disclosure of offers to all prospective buyers who submitted an offer.
    View the Report

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes. The Real Estate Development Marketing Act (“REDMA”) provides for a seven-day rescission period for sales of units in multi-unit development properties, like condominiums.

    BCFSA’s advice includes specific parameters for a cooling-off period for newly built and resale home sales not captured by REDMA.

  • BCFSA’s mandate is to regulate real estate brokerages and licensees, and to help protect consumers in the real estate market.

    Our consultations with experts and key industry stakeholders led to the development of advice on specific actions to help enhance consumer protections.

    Some of the concerns we focused on in addition to parameters of a homebuyer protection period include:

    • “blind bidding”, which is when home buyers submit offers to sellers and sellers choose not to disclose the details of competing bids; and
    • risks to buyers associated with unconditional offers.
  • B.C. will be the first Canadian jurisdiction to legislate cooling-off periods for all residential real estate sales.