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Real estate teams (“teams”) are a popular option for consumers and licensees when buying, selling, or leasing real estate. Teams offer consumers the expertise of a group of real estate licensees working together to provide real estate services to clients while potentially also offering mentorship and supporting greater work-life balance for licensees. In the questions below, you will find answers to various issues and concerns that have been raised by fellow real estate licensees. If you are unable to find an answer to a particular question, you may wish to speak with your managing broker or one of BCFSA’s practice standards advisors.
This table provides information on the impacts of the team registration requirement in the Amended Rules in different scenarios.
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 but are not a brokerage) 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 Rules, if a group of two or more licensees from the same brokerage are working together on a regular basis to provide trading services in a manner that—through the actions and conduct of the licensees—would lead a party to believe that the licensees are acting as their agent, they must register as a team. In other words, any activity regularly undertaken by a group of two or more licensees from the same brokerage that would imply an agency relationship with the same party would require these licensees 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 shared access to confidential client information (e.g., sharing a personal office);
- Sharing a phone number, other than a brokerage phone number, or other contact information (e.g., email address) where a client may discuss or share confidential information;
- Regularly fielding calls or inquiries from one another’s clients (e.g., on a rotating schedule to cover evenings or weekends);
- Jointly meeting – 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, except instances where a co-listing agreement is entered into;
- Referring to themselves by a joint name, not limited to advertising materials (e.g., on office documents or voicemail);
- Having a standing commission sharing agreement between multiple licensees;
- Communicating with or providing offer, counter-offer, or contract documents to or receiving them from third parties on behalf of the client;
- Preparing or delivering offers or counter-offers on behalf of the client; and
- Receiving or delivering funds on behalf of the client.
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, they should consider whether they need to register with BCFSA as a team or whether they should stop or modify one or more activities. If licensees are uncertain of the implications of the Amended Rules and/or registration as a team, they should obtain advice from their own lawyer.
Yes. A $50 licence amendment fee from each licensee is charged for every application to create a team and/or make changes to a team’s membership. For example, if Jon and Kate wish to create a team, they are both required to pay the $50 licence amendment fee. Adding a new member costs $50 per new member. The fees are used to recover costs incurred in the administration of the teams regulatory framework (e.g., registration and approvals, teams database, enforcement activity, etc.).
An application to leave a team or disband a team has no fee, and there is no fee for making changes to a team’s name.
Licensees must register a new team or make changes to their team’s name and/or membership through BCFSA’s IRIS portal. All real estate teams forms can be found as fillable webforms in BCFSA’s IRIS portal. Licensees no longer need to download, fill, and upload the forms in IRIS, and managing brokers can approve the requests in the same manner as other applications.
The webforms dictate who can submit the form. For example, in order to register a team, one of the initial two team members must be the one to submit the “Register a New Real Estate Team” form. A licensee leaving a team must be the one to submit the “Remove Myself From a Real Estate Team” form – not the managing broker or another team member. A licensee joining a team should submit the “Join an Existing Real Estate Team” form, with this going to the managing broker for approval.
You will find the following teams-related application forms in IRIS:
Application Form Fee Register a New Real Estate Team $100 ($50 for each of the initial licensees joining the team) Join an Existing Real Estate Team $50 Change an Existing Real Estate Team Name $0 Remove Myself From a Real Estate Team $0 Deregister a Real Estate Team $0
If you have additional questions about how to complete the forms, please contact BCFSA’s Licensing Team.
No. There are no exemptions to this requirement. All groups of licensees who meet the requirements to register as a team, as defined in the Rules, will be required to register with BCFSA.
Yes, you will need to register as a team.
Licensed assistants are always considered licensees by the real estate regulatory framework and are not able to act in a personal or unlicensed capacity. If you hire a licensed assistant, they count as a member of the team and can only be a member of one team at a time. Further, they can only provide administrative or real estate services to the brokerage they are licensed with.
If you have an unlicensed assistant and no licensed team members, you will not have to register as a team, because unlicensed assistants do not count towards the minimum required membership requirements for a team. You cannot represent yourself as a team, or register as a team, unless you have at least two licensed team members.
To join an existing team, licensees will fill out the Join an Existing Real Estate Team form in BCFSA’s IRIS portal, along with the required fee, which will be sent to their managing broker for approval. Following submission, BCFSA will process the request, and the licensee’s record 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.
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 ensure that their managing broker and BCFSA is aware of the change. BCFSA will process the request and update the licensee’s record 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 that the Rules are followed, including the Rules regarding teams, advertising, and agency, among others. 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 oversight of team operations.
Managing brokers requested increased oversight of teams during previous consultations around the role of managing brokers in the industry. Managing brokers are responsible for ensuring that the business of the brokerage is carried out competently and in accordance with RESA, the Regulations, and the Rules.
Yes. Licensees that were previously advertising under a joint name and were exempt from having the regulator approve their name, such as teams of family members who advertised under a shared last name (e.g., The Bloggs), will need to register. Family members are reminded that even if they do not advertise under a shared name, but are discussing confidential client information or are engaged in other activities suggesting they are a team (see FAQ under Team Definition), they will need to register as a team or modify/ cease this behaviour. This change 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 regulatory oversight of teams.
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” is not 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. If a team chooses to advertise, they must include their team’s name in all their advertising, as well as the brokerage name, which must be prominently displayed and easily readable. It must be clear to the public that your team is not a brokerage.
No. Team names are currently registered on a first-come, first-served basis and this practice will continue. Because team names must be unique, if someone registers your desired team name before you, you will have to select a different name.
No. You must change your team name if this scenario occurs, as it is misleading 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 (e.g., 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 come to an agreement with their prior team members on using the existing team name, in order to keep the existing team name. BCFSA does not get involved in disputes or business discussions between licensees respecting team names.
When selecting a team name, you must ensure that the name is not misleading to the public. BCFSA suggests that you use generic/non-familial names for teams that may wish to add additional members. A name like “Dynamic Real Estate Team” does not make representations as to the makeup of the team, making it future proof. Teams that are considering using specific individuals’ names in their team’s name need to contemplate that the team’s name may need to change in the future if any of those named people leave or, in some cases, when new members join, and should be prepared for such a scenario.
No. To avoid public confusion between teams and brokerages, it is BCFSA’s policy to no longer approve 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.
In this situation, both a licensee leaving or joining a team as well as the licensee’s former or new team, as applicable, must:
- Communicate the change in team membership to client(s), their managing broker(s), and BCFSA (via an application submission);
- Provide an updated Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services form to client(s); and
- Update any advertising.
The licensee and impacted team may also want to:
- Consider the timing of the transition on or off a team as this may impact certain client relationships or transactions; and
- Update relevant service agreements and other required disclosure forms to reflect any changes to services, agency offered, and expected remuneration.
When changes to a team occur, it is up to the client(s) and the team’s membership to determine which licensee(s) retains which of the team’s client(s). Licensees should be careful that they do not induce a client to breach an existing service agreement or contract (see section 48 of the Rules). Licensees are reminded that even if the licensee is no longer a registered team member, they must consider the potential conflicts of interest that may arise when representing a client in a transaction involving their former team, as the duty of confidentiality endures beyond the agency relationship (see Agency Guidelines). Teams should consider and document expectations around team membership, departure, and remuneration. Brokerages should also prepare their own policies and procedures respecting the process for licensees leaving or joining a team.
This answer may not be exhaustive of all the considerations and requirements that apply to particular circumstances. If you require legal advice or assistance about specific circumstances or when drafting a team participation agreement, consult a lawyer.
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.
BCFSA does not get involved in how commissions are distributed once they have been earned by the brokerage so long as proper disclosure is made. Teams (and brokerages) should have clear agreements regarding the division of commissions to avoid disputes about remuneration.
No. Unlicensed assistants do not count toward a team’s membership. If you do not have another licensed member on your team, you are not considered a team.
You can continue to employ your unlicensed assistant but must ensure that they do not perform any duties that would be considered real estate services.
Yes. You can include unlicensed assistants in your team advertisements, so long as they are clearly identified as unlicensed assistants in every case where they are pictured or mentioned in the context of the team.
Please see the Advertising Guidelines for information on this subject.
As provided in the Rules, If you are a member of a team, you are only 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. Keep in mind that you must not advertise your new team/position until your application has been processed and approved by BCFSA.
You should ensure that the ad(s) does/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.
Yes. Sharing a personal office with another licensee strongly implies that you are sharing confidential client information and working collectively as a team.
If you do not wish to register as a team with the other licensee(s) working out of this personal office, you should cease sharing a personal office.
Yes, all team members must be included in any disclosure, service agreement, or form where agency/representation is required to be disclosed (e.g., the Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services or written service agreements). Ensuring your client knows who is representing them in a transaction is an important part of the real estate sales process – it promotes transparency, accountability, and protects your client’s best interests.
If there is not enough space on a document to list all the team members, teams can add an addendum with the remaining names.
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.
BCFSA does not have specific requirements relating to how the agency section of the contract of purchase and sale must be filled out. If you are part of a large team that is representing one of the parties to the transaction, it is acceptable to use the team’s name in the agency section of the contract. If you are part of a small team (e.g., 2 or 3 people), you may wish to include the names of the individual members for clarity.
It is important to note that the contract of purchase and sale is distinct from a disclosure of representation. By the time you reach this stage of the transaction, each set of clients will already have a clear understanding of who is representing them, which is why BCFSA does not require each licensed team member to appear on this form.
It depends. When working with partners that you regularly refer clients to, consider if you are operating as two separate entities (e.g., siloed operations where confidentiality is strictly maintained) or in a close working relationship (e.g., sharing office space not on brokerage premises, joint advertising). Licensees who work closely with partners who are licensees and undertake activities that would imply an agency relationship should register as a team or cease undertaking certain practices. Ultimately, licensees must not use “referral partners” as a means of circumventing the requirement to register as a team; if your partner relationship meets the requirements to register as a team, you must do so. If you are uncertain if your partner relationship requires team registration, you should speak with your managing broker, contact a practice standards advisor, or seek legal advice. Licensees may want to review our confidentiality and referrals guidelines to ensure they are in compliance with the Rules.
It depends. Mentoring an inexperienced licensee at your brokerage is an acceptable practice that may not require team registration. Refer to the registration triggers in section 42.2(1) of the Rules (see the following FAQ for more information) to see if they apply to your specific situation.
Essentially, if you and your mentee are exclusively or routinely providing real estate services to the same client(s), you should register as a team or change your business practices. In every case where a mentee is included in a transaction or client relationship, they should provide a Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services form to ensure that the client understands the relationship and services offered by the mentee. Consider also whether you need to obtain the client’s consent to share confidential information with your mentee (see Confidentiality Guidelines).
Licensees working with or as a mentor should also be aware of the potential conflicts of interest that can arise from this type of relationship, such as one of them being asked to represent a buyer and one being asked to represent a seller, or each being asked to represent a different buyer competing for the same property. Where the mentor and mentee are not on the same team, they should anticipate conflicts, and discuss with the client how any conflict will be addressed (see Conflict of Interest (Trading Services) Guidelines).
The members of a team are considered to be collectively the designated agent of a client. Accordingly, anything that an individual designated agent is required to do under the Real Estate Services Rules, a team (acting collectively as a designated agent) is required to do as well.
Working with non-clients exposes real estate professionals to risk:
- If the real estate professional is not careful, they may slip into an implied agency relationship with the non-client. Then the real estate professional will be in an undisclosed dual agency situation, and dual agency is restricted except in limited circumstances.
- Even if the real estate professional deals with the non-client in an appropriate and professional manner, if the non-client subsequently claims that the real estate professional gave them advice, or induced them to remain unrepresented, it will be a “he said, she said” scenario.
- Any time a real estate professional deals with a non-client, the real estate professional should be very cautious and document in writing all discussions with the non-client.
- While with the appropriate disclosures, the team may be able to assist the unrepresented buyer (a non-client) the team should ensure that they:
- Encourage the non-client to seek independent representation from another real estate professional; and
- Consider the risks of working with non-clients.
No. You should encourage the buyer to seek independent representation.
You cannot end your agency relationship with the seller and begin acting for the buyer as their designated agent, even with the consent of the seller and buyer, because:
- In ending your agency relationship with the seller, you would be preferring your own interests and the interests of the buyer to the interests of the seller; and
- You would likely have received confidential information from the seller that would be directly relevant to the buyer’s position in the ongoing transaction.
- Your ability to advise and represent the buyer would be impaired by your inability to disclose the seller’s material confidential information.
Unless the team is exempt from the restriction on dual agency, the team cannot engage in dual agency to represent both a buyer and a seller, or multiple competing buyers. This is because the members of a team are considered to be collectively the designated agent of a client. Members of these teams typically share information about all of the consumers to whom they provide real estate services. That is the essence of the team concept in BC. As a result, these teams are not able to separate their agency relationships, regardless of whether they operate under brokerage agency or under designated agency.
The Rules for teams require managing broker approval to create and join a team. When a team transfers to a new brokerage they will need the approval of their new managing broker to form a team; this process cannot be automated as the managing broker must sign the application form.
If your team is considering moving to a new brokerage, BCFSA recommends that a team member submit a Deregister a Real Estate Team Application Form approximately 5 days before the team is set to transfer to the new brokerage to allow for processing. Once the team members are licensed with the new brokerage and the deregistration has been confirmed, a team member may submit a Register a New Real Estate Team Application Form to reinstate the existing team. Remember that at least two licensees are required to register a real estate team.
Once a team has been registered, other team members may submit a Join an Existing Real Estate Team Application Form to rejoin their team. Keep in mind that BCFSA cannot hold team names so we advise you to complete this process as soon as possible to ensure the continued usage of your team name.
Remember that your advertising must accurately reflect your current team status. Once you change brokerages and your team is re-registered, you must promptly update your advertising to reflect your new brokerage and any other potential changes to the team’s membership and/or name.
Team names are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. If some of the team’s members decide to transfer brokerages, they will need to remove themselves from their existing team and register a new real estate team with a new team name. If the transferring licensees fail to remove themselves from their old team using the Remove a Member From a Real Estate Team Application Form, BCFSA will remove them from the team once their transfer is complete.
If the licensees that are transferring brokerages agree with their existing team members to retain the team name, the existing team will need to deregister the team with BCFSA in order to release the existing team name. The transferring licensees will then be able to register a new team using their old team name. In this scenario, the team that deregistered themselves to release the team name will have to register a new team if they wish to continue operating as one.
A team must have at least two licensed members. When a team of two sees one member transfer brokerages, BCFSA will deregister the team once the transfer is complete. Should the licensee at the existing brokerage wish to continue operating as a team, they will need to recruit another licensee to join their team before the old team member’s transfer is processed.
Remember that your advertising must accurately reflect your current team status. Once a change to your team name and/or membership is made, you must promptly update your advertising to reflect the changes.