Strengthening the Regulation of Real Estate Teams: Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the anticipated impacts for my team or brokerage if the proposed Rules come into force?

This table provides information on the anticipated impact of the proposed definition of “team” in different scenarios.

If you areThe anticipated impact will be
A licensee.An improved understanding of the regulatory and operational requirements for team members and teams.
A member of a registered team that has two or more licensed members.Existing registered teams with two or more licensed members will be carried forward under the amended Rules. These teams will not need to re-register or pay an application fee.
A member of a registered team that has one licensed member.In the proposed Rules, a team must have two or more licensed members. You will need to comply with the proposed Rules on the date they come into force. You can do this by:

• Ceasing to market yourself as a team, or
• Recruiting additional licensed team members.
If you recruit and register additional licensed members with BCFSA before the proposed Rules come into effect, you will not be required to re-register your team.

If a single-licensee team is unable to recruit another licensed member by the day the proposed Rules come into effect, their team will be deregistered by BCFSA, and the licensee must immediately cease marketing as if they were a team.

For more details about the registration process once the proposed Rules come into effect, see the FAQ for Team Registration Requirements.
A member of an unregistered family team who advertise under a shared last name.In the proposed Rules, there are no exemptions to the registration requirement for teams. You will need to comply with the proposed Rules on the date they come into force.

You can do this by:

• Changing your business practices (i.e., cease advertising together under a shared surname and cease activities that would suggest you are working as a team like sharing a personal office or workspace that is not on brokerage premises, sharing communication devices, or sharing confidential information), or
• Registering your team name and members with BCFSA.

For more details about the registration process once the proposed Rules come into effect, see the FAQ on Team Registration Requirements.
A member of a group of licensees who are acting in a team capacity and do not advertise under a joint name but otherwise represent themselves to clients as a single entity or work together on a regular basis to provide trading services.In the proposed Rules, all teams must register with BCFSA. You will need to comply with the proposed Rules on the date they come into force.

You can do this by:

• Registering your team name and members with BCFSA (even if you do not consider yourself a team, if you are performing activities that may suggest that you are operating as a team, you must register), or
• Changing your business practices (i.e., cease activities that would suggest you are working as a team like sharing confidential information, having a commission sharing agreement, or jointly providing real estate services).

For more details about the registration process once the proposed Rules come into effect, see the FAQ on Team Registration Requirements.
A managing broker.Using BCFSA’s online portal you will need to approve requests to create new teams or add new members to existing teams of licensees engaged by your brokerage. If you disapprove a team name, team registration request, or team member addition, you must deny the request.

You will also be informed when teams of licensees engaged by your brokerage disband or when individual licensees leave a team. It is recommended that you keep your own records of teams and team changes that occur within your brokerage, as it is your duty to adequately supervise the activities within your brokerage.

You may want to review your brokerage’s policies and procedures related to teams to ensure they are adequate and up to date.
A new brokerage that is deciding on a brokerage name. You will be required to select a brokerage name that does not include the word “team,” as BCFSA is no longer approving such names (e.g. Team Limitless Realty Inc. is not an acceptable brokerage name).
An existing brokerage whose name includes the word “team”.No impact. BCFSA is allowing brokerages that currently have the word “team” in their name to continue using this name. It is recommended, however, that these brokerages consider renaming their brokerage to avoid consumer confusion between teams and brokerages.

Team Definition

  • Two or more licensees who advertise (e.g. through business cards, print advertising, digital advertising, signage, etc.) to the public that they are a team or group (i.e., a single entity) will be required to register as a team with BCFSA.

    In addition, two or more licensees who indicate to the public through paperwork, disclosure forms, contracts of purchase and sale, verbal representations, or other means that they are acting as a single entity will also be required to register as a team with BCFSA.

  • Designated agency is created when a brokerage and a client agree that the brokerage will designate one or more real estate licensees to provide trading services as the designated agent(s) for the client. If a group of two or more licensees are regularly working as designated agents for the same client(s), they must register as a team.

  • Under the proposed Rules, if a group of two or more licensees from the same brokerage are performing an activity that would lead a reasonable person to believe that they are “regularly working together” to provide trading services, they will be required to register as a team.

    Examples of activities that may indicate that a group of licensees is working together as a team may include:

    • Having a licensed assistant;
    • Regularly invoking each other’s expertise while representing clients;
    • Sharing a phone number, other than a brokerage phone number, or other contact information (e.g. e-mail address) that is provided to clients;
    • Regularly fielding calls or inquiries from one another’s clients (e.g. on a rotating schedule);
    • Jointly attending meetings – whether with clients, other licensees, or third parties – where confidential client information is discussed;
    • Listing multiple licensees on written service agreements or disclosures of representation in trading services;
    • Referring to themselves by a joint name, other than in advertising materials (e.g. on office documents or voicemail);
    • Regularly hosting open houses for each other’s listings;
    • Sharing or having shared access to confidential client information;
    • Having a standing commission sharing agreement between multiple licensees.

    This list is not exhaustive. It is intended to provide examples of activities that may indicate that a group of licensees may be working as a team, even if they do not represent themselves to the public as a single entity. If a group of two or more licensees are undertaking any of the activities listed above, consideration should be given as to whether to register with BCFSA as a team or whether a specific activity should be ceased to avoid the requirement to register.

Team Registration Requirements

  • Yes.

    A $50 licence amendment fee will be charged for every application to create a team and/or make changes to a team’s name or membership. The fee will be used to recover costs incurred in undertaking the administration of the teams regulatory framework (e.g., registration and approvals, teams database, enforcement activity, etc.). An application to leave a team will have no fee.

    If team registration is completed before the proposed Rules come into effect, no application fee is required.

  • BCFSA is still developing the registration system for teams. It is anticipated that licensees will be required to fill out an online application. The application to create and/or make changes to a team will first need to be approved by a managing broker and will require a $50 licence amendment fee. Following managing broker approval, BCFSA will need to provide final approval of the application before a team is officially registered. Team applications submitted by a single licensee will not receive approval from BCFSA until a second licensee requests to join the team.

    Further details, and any changes to the process described here will be provided closer to the date of expected implementation.

  • No. There will be no exemptions to this requirement. All groups of licensees who meet the requirements to register as a team, as defined in the proposed Rules, will be required to register with BCFSA.

  • Yes. You will need to register as a team once the proposed Rules come into effect.

    Licensed assistants are always considered licensees by the real estate regulatory framework and are not able to act in a personal or unlicensed capacity, except as provided in the Rules. This applies even when they are performing administrative tasks to assist another licensee (e.g. filing documents, preparing offers, performing title searches, etc.) There is a high potential for licensed assistants to experience a conflict of interest when they can access confidential information about another licensee’s clients while also providing agency to consumers. Further, because licensed assistants may perform duties and tasks that require a licence – such as making representations about a property or advising clients – they may unintentionally form implied agency when they interact with consumers.

  • To join an existing team, it is anticipated that licensees will submit the applicable form through BCFSA’s online portal. Following this request, the managing broker will receive a notification to approve the additional team member. If the managing broker approves the request to join an existing team, BCFSA will process the request, and the licensee’s licence will be updated to reflect that they are now part of a team under their respective brokerage. A licensee must not conduct business through a team until their request is processed and approved by BCFSA.

    Further details, and any changes to the process described here will be provided closer to the date of expected implementation.

  • Licensees do not need the approval of their managing broker to leave a team, but they are required to submit the applicable application to BCFSA, which will notify their managing broker of the change. BCFSA will process the request and update the licensee’s licence to reflect the change. If a licensee wishes to join a new team after leaving an existing team, they must follow the steps to join a team and pay the applicable fee. A licensee must not conduct business through a team until their request is processed and approved by BCFSA.

  • Managing brokers must be in active charge of their brokerage and must ensure that there is an adequate level of supervision of the licensees engaged by their brokerage. As part of this responsibility, managing brokers must be aware of which licensees are part of a team to ensure the rules around agency relationships are followed. To fulfill their duties, managing brokers must be aware of any changes to teams operating within the brokerage. Requiring managing broker approval to form or join a team will help ensure that managing brokers can provide adequate daily oversight of team operations.

    Managing brokers requested increased oversight of teams during previous consultations around the role of managing brokers in the industry.

  • Yes.

    Under the old team registration requirements, teams comprised of family members were exempt from registering with BCFSA. However, the new rules are removing this exemption. This change means that all teams, whether previously unregistered or previously exempt, are now required to register. This is to ensure that BCFSA is aware of how many teams are operating within the province, to reduce public confusion as to what constitutes a team, and to strengthen the regulator’s ability to enforce existing practices.

Team Name Requirements

  • No.

    Although using the term “team” in a team name may help the public recognize that you are providing real estate services through a team of licensees, the term “team” will not be required under the amended Rules.

    A team name must be unique to avoid confusion with an existing team name and must not suggest that the team is a brokerage. Remember that while a team may advertise using its team name, the brokerage name must also be prominently displayed and be easily readable in relation to the rest of the advertisement.

  • No.

    Team names are currently registered on a first-come, first-served basis and this will continue to be the process once the proposed Rules come into effect. Because team names must be unique, if someone registers your desired team name before you, this means you will have to select a different name.

  • No.

    You must change your team name if this scenario occurs, as it is a misrepresentation to the public to carry on business in another person’s name. If, however, someone else on your team shares the name of the person leaving/retiring, it is acceptable to continue using this team name.

  • Once a team name is registered with BCFSA it remains in effect until the team disbands or until a change is required (the team name contains a name of an individual that is no longer on the team). This individual would need to choose a different name or negotiate the acquisition of the existing team name. BCFSA does not get involved in such disputes.

Brokerage Name Requirements

  • Brokerages that currently use the term “team” in their brokerage name may continue to use this name. For example, a brokerage with a legal or trade name that was approved before the new team registration rule is in effect (e.g. Team Sky Realty Inc.) will be allowed to continue doing business under this name. To avoid any confusion with teams, BCFSA recommends that brokerages currently using the term “team” in their name consider renaming their brokerage; however, this is not a requirement.

  • No.

    To avoid public confusion between teams and brokerages, BCFSA is, as of this moment, no longer approving brokerage names that contain the term “team.” Brokerages that are currently using the term “team” in their name will be permitted to continue using this name, but this legacy option does not apply to new brokerages.

Team Member Considerations

  • No.

    As a licensed assistant, you are a member of the team. You can only be a member of one team at a time. Further, you can only provide administrative or real estate services to the brokerage you are licensed with.

  • No.

    Teams are not required to designate a team leader. A team may choose to designate a team leader, but having a team leader does not diminish the other team members’ legislated responsibilities and obligations.

    All team members are reminded that as licensees they must comply with all provisions of the real estate regulatory framework.

  • No. Teams that choose to designate a team leader may select any licensee registered as part of that team. There are no specific qualifications or requirements for team leaders at this time.

  • In general, BCFSA does not get involved in how commissions are distributed once they have been earned. Teams (and brokerages) should have clear agreements regarding the division of commissions in order to avoid disputes about remuneration.

Unlicensed Assistant Considerations

  • No.

    Unlicensed assistants will not count towards a team’s membership. If you do not have another licensed member on your team, you will not be considered a team, as defined in the proposed Rules, and once the proposed Rules come into effect you must not advertise as a team or identify yourself by a team name.

    You can continue to employ your unlicensed assistant but remember to ensure that they do not perform any duties that would be considered real estate services.

  • Yes.

    You may continue to include unlicensed assistants in your team advertisements after the proposed Rules come into effect, so long as they are clearly identified as unlicensed assistants.

Advertising Requirements

  • Please see the Advertising Guidelines for information on this subject.

  • As provided in the proposed Rules, if you are a member of a team, you will only be able provide real estate trading services through your team.

    Your advertising must clearly identify your licensed name, your team name, and the name of the brokerage with which you are licensed. This applies regardless of whether you are pictured alone or with other team members. If you choose to advertise on your own, and you are part of a team, your advertising must include your team name. This does not include advertising with respect to the provision of rental property management services. If you are licensed to provide rental property management services, you may advertise these services outside of your team.

  • Yes. If you are transferring to a new team or leaving a team to work on your own, you are required to update your advertising materials immediately to reflect the change.

  • Due to the variability of co-listing scenarios that could occur in a real estate transaction, it is not possible to provide a definitive “yes” or “no” answer to this question. BCFSA will provide guidance on this subject before the proposed rules come into force to ensure licensees understand which scenarios may require registration as a team.

  • You should ensure that the ad(s) do not create the impression that you and other licensees are a single entity. For example, ensure that the ad does not use any words or phrases that may indicate a shared name. You should also make sure that the advertisement clearly identifies all licensees by name and provides their individual contact info.

  • If you belong to a single licensee team that will be dissolving because of the proposed changes to the Rules, you will have approximately six months from the moment the Minister of Finance consents to the Rules amendments, if applicable, to remove all advertising materials that references your team. It is expected that the Minister of Finance will make a decision regarding the proposed Rules over the summer months and that the Rules would come into force January 1, 2023. Once the new Rules are in force, single licensee teams cannot represent themselves as a team.

    Similarly, if you are a single licensee team that will be recruiting another licensee in order to continue operating as a team, you will have approximately six months from the date the Minister of Finance consents to the Rules, if applicable, to update all advertising materials. Once the new Rules are in force, it is expected that all advertising materials comply with BCFSA’s advertising guidelines.

Team Operations

  • Teams should ensure that all team members are listed on contracts, disclosures, and other forms. If necessary, large teams can list all members in an addendum.For more details, review BCFSA’s published guidance on teams.

  • Yes.

    Sharing a personal office with another licensee implies that you are sharing confidential client information and working collectively as a team. The Rules pertaining to personal offices state that you may only have an administrative assistant or unlicensed staff working out of a personal office.

    If you do not wish to register as a team with the other licensee(s) working out of this personal office, you must cease sharing a personal office.

  • No.

    All teams must meet the same requirements, including registering with BCFSA. The same registration process, including the application per individual, applies regardless of the size of the team.

  • Yes.

    Team members can only provide trading services through their team; however, if an exemption under Part 9 of the Rules applies, members may perform these services outside of their team.

  • No.

    Teams are a construct that is only possible through designated agency, and since rental property management services are provided via brokerage agency, a team cannot provide rental property management services unless all members of the team are licensed to do so.

    Therefore, if a team member is licensed for rental property management, and the rest of the team is not, that team member can only provide these services outside of the team. If this is the case, it is important that the team does not advertise that it provides rental property management services.

  • Yes.

    If a client does not wish to receive services from other members of the team, you can agree to be the only team member who will deal with that client. Keep in mind however that you will have to inform the client that while they may only be dealing with one individual, all members of the team are still effectively their representative/agent and all team members will still need to be listed on any service agreement, disclosure form, and contract of purchase and sale, because a team cannot separate their agency duties in the same manner as a brokerage. Teams are free to structure remuneration within their team to account for scenarios like this.