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BCFSA’s Guidelines provide a practical application of the information and give suggested best practice guidance to assist real estate professionals. These guidelines provide BCFSA’s interpretation of the Real Estate Services Act (“RESA”) and all other applicable legislation.
In addition, BCFSA’s Guidelines may be a useful information source for the general public looking for information about standards of conduct for real estate professionals.
This Guideline explains the requirements for registering a team, issues related to joining and leaving a team, and acting under the exemptions found in the Real Estate Services Rules (“the Rules”) when you are part of a team.
- Understanding when to register as a real estate team
- Issues to consider when joining and leaving teams
- Acting under the exemptions found in the Real Estate Services Rules when you are a part of a team
A group of two or more licensees must register as a real estate team if they advertise or make representations to the public that they are a team or group or if they regularly work as designated agents for the same client(s). Licensees must also register as a team if they are working together in a manner that is consistent with the licensees being implied agents of the same party. Licensees must carefully consider what activities would require them to register as a team. The following are common examples that require registration:
- Sharing information about clients;
- Advertising with other licensees;
- “Partnering” with other licensees; and
- Hiring a licensed assistant.
The requirement to register a team has been purposefully designed to be flexible enough to capture licensees who may not be holding themselves out in their advertising as a team but who nevertheless work together on a regular basis to provide trading services in a manner that—through the actions and conduct of the licensees—could lead a party to believe that the licensees are acting as their agent.
For example, one action that may lead a party to believe that the licensees are acting as their agent would be sharing confidential information. If you and your colleagues are sharing client information or there is a strong implication that information sharing is taking place, you will need to consider whether to register with BCFSA as a team or cease undertaking such activities in order to comply with the Rules.
If you and another licensee are advertising together (i.e., through business cards, print advertising, signage, etc.), and your advertisements explicitly state that you are a single entity (such as a team or group) or suggests that you are a single entity (e.g., Frank and Lisa Real Estate Voyagers), you are required to register as a team with BCFSA. Likewise, if you and another licensee are indicating to the public through paperwork, disclosure forms, contracts of purchase and sale, verbal representations, or other means that you are acting as a single entity, you are also required to register as a team.
If you are a member of a team, your advertising must clearly identify your team’s 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. It also applies whether you are advertising through your team or on your own. 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; however, you should not include your team’s name in such advertisements as it would be misleading to the public to suggest that your team could provide rental property management services when only you are licensed to do so.
Licensees are reminded that there are no longer any exemptions to the requirement to register as a team. This means that licensees that were previously exempt from registration, such as 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, they will need to register as a team or cease this activity.
If you are not a team but are co-advertising with another licensee, ensure that your advertisement(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 information. Properties featured in any co-advertising should be clearly identified with the relevant agent. If your co-advertising begins to suggest that you and another licensee are a single entity, you will either need to register as a team or bring your advertising into compliance with the Rules.
Under the Rules, a group of two or more licensees from the same brokerage must register as a team if they are working together on a regular basis to provide trading services in a manner that would lead a party to believe that the licensees are collectively acting as their agent.
Examples of activities that may indicate that a group of licensees is working together as a team 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;
- 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. The list 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. Please review our FAQs for more information.
Licensed assistants are always considered licensees by the Real Estate Services Act (“RESA”) and are not able to act in a personal or unlicensed capacity, except as provided in the Rules (Part 9). This applies even when they are performing administrative tasks to assist another licensee (e.g., filing documents, preparing offers, performing title searches). If you decide to hire a licensed assistant, you must register as a team, as such a relationship would meet the registration requirements.
Before joining a team, licensees should thoughtfully consider the implications of team membership and what it means to be part of a team. For example, once a licensee joins a team, they are only able to provide trading services through their team. This means they will not be able to do one-off transactions on their own, outside of their team, without also including all team members on contracts and required disclosures. It also means that every team member is the designated agent of every client of the team. Therefore, if one team member is representing a seller client and another team member finds a buyer client interested in purchasing the property, they will, in almost all cases, have to refer the buyer client to a licensee outside of the team, since it would amount to dual agency to have two team members representing both sides of a transaction. The one exception to this would be if the very restricted dual agency exemption under the Rules applies, and in such case, all members of the team would become dual agents of the clients.
In addition to these two scenarios, there are many other factors that should be considered before joining a team, such as remuneration within the team, impacts on advertising, increased likelihood of conflicts of interest, and more. While being on a team can be a great opportunity for some licensees, it is not a decision that should be made without careful thought and consideration.
To join an existing team, licensees must log into BCFSA’s IRIS portal and fill out the applicable application form along with the required fee. Following submission, BCFSA will process and approve the request, and the licensee’s record will be updated to reflect that they are now part of a team under their respective brokerage.
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. 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.
When joining an existing team, or when leaving a team and then joining a new team, a licensee must ensure that they do not conduct business through a team until their request is processed and approved by BCFSA.
While it may be tempting to work outside of a team for a single transaction (e.g., to represent an old client or a friend, or to represent a client in a transaction involving other members of their team), this is not possible under the Rules unless they formally de-register and remove themselves from the team roster. 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 a member of their former team. They must also continue to observe their confidentiality requirements under the Rules.
If a licensee is transferring to a new team or leaving a team to work on their own, they must update their advertising materials immediately to reflect the change. Licensees that are considering this should prepare in advance to ensure they are complying with the Rules once they officially change or leave a team.
Licensees that are on a team but wish to utilize one of the licensee exemptions under Part 9 of the Rules, such as managing rental real estate owned by the licensee, may do so. Although team members can only provide trading services through their team, if an exemption under Part 9 of the Rules applies, licensees may provide these services outside of their team. If you are unsure whether an exemption applies to your situation, you may wish to consult your managing broker or obtain legal advice.
The licensee advertised and operated under a team name that had not been approved by council, in contravention of the Rules. In particular, the licensee failed to take adequate steps to ensure that his team was registered with the council before team advertising was published.
Contraventions: Sections 40(5) [Restrictions and requirements] related to advertising generally, and 41 [False or misleading advertising prohibited] of the Rules, among other provisions.Read the Full Case
Case #2: Failure to identify all members of team on contracts; members of same team acting for seller and buyer; conflict of interest
In multiple transactions, the licensee failed to fully disclose the nature of the representation she and her team were providing to the seller by not identifying all members of the team as designated agents for the seller on the Multiple Listing Contract and on the Contract of Purchase and Sale.
In another transaction, the licensee failed to avoid or disclose a conflict of interest while acting as the seller’s agent when she failed to:
- disclose to the seller that a member or members of her team were acting as the agents for the buyer;
- obtain the seller’s prior written consent to the team acting for both the seller and the buyer;
- ensure that the seller entered into a limited dual agency agreement; and
- ensure that all members of her team were identified on the Contract of Purchase and Sale.
Contraventions: Sections 30 (i) and (j) [Duties to clients], 33 and 34 [Duty to act honestly and with reasonable care and skill], and 54 [Disclosure of representation in trading services] of the Rules, among other provisions.Read the Full Case
Case #3: Members of team from different brokerages; advertisement and operation under team name not approved
Several licensees from different brokerages advertised and acted as a team, and in doing so provided services outside of their respective brokerages in contravention of RESA. The advertised team name was not approved, in contravention of the Rules.
Contraventions: Sections 33 and 34 [Duty to act honestly and with reasonable care and skill] and 40 [Restrictions and requirements related to advertising generally] of the Rules; Sections 7(3)(a) and 7(5) [Relationships between brokerages and other licensees] of RESA.Read The Full Case
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 a managing broker, there are several obligations you must be aware of relating to teams.
Managing brokers must be aware of which licensees are part of a team to ensure the rules around agency relationships are followed, such as designating all members of a team as designated agents of all the team’s clients. To fulfill their duties, managing brokers must be aware of any changes to teams operating within the brokerage. To assist with this duty, BCFSA requires you to approve requests to create new teams or add new members to existing teams of licensees engaged by your brokerage. If you disapprove of a team name, team registration request, or team member addition, you must deny the request. Managing broker approval is not required by BCFSA for a team member to leave a team or for a team to deregister entirely.
To help managing brokers keep track of teams, BCFSA will send out a notification when:
- Teams of licensees engaged by their brokerage deregister;
- Individual licensees leave a team; or
- The number of licensees in the team reduces to the point they can no longer operate as a team.
It is recommended however, 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 should review your brokerage’s policies and procedures related to teams to ensure they are adequate and up to date. For example, outlining rules in your brokerage policy manual to require real estate licensees or teams to notify you when they hire assistants will help in your duty to supervise and know what is happening at the brokerage. The policy manual should also outline what activities the brokerage permits both licensed and unlicensed assistants to engage in. Remember that if a licensee has a licensed assistant, they are required to register as a real estate team. And since licensees can only belong to one team at a time, a licensed assistant may only assist the team in which they are a member.
- Section 26 (2), Real Estate Services Rules, Administrative Penalties
- Section 32, Real Estate Services Rules, Designated Agency
- Section 40, Real Estate Services Rules, Advertising — Restrictions and Requirements
- Section 42.1, Real Estate Services Rules, Real Estate Teams — Definition
- Section 42.2, Real Estate Services Rules, Requirement to Register
- Section 42.3, Real Estate Services Rules, Registration
- Section 42.4, Real Estate Services Rules, Restrictions and Requirements
Trading services means any of the following services provided to or on behalf of a party to a trade in real estate:
- Advising on the appropriate price for the real estate;
- Making representations about the real estate;
- Finding the real estate for a party to acquire;
- Finding a party to acquire the real estate;
- Showing the real estate;
- Negotiating the price of the real estate or the terms of the trade in real estate;
- Presenting offers to dispose of or acquire the real estate; and
- Receiving deposit money paid in respect of the real estate;
but does not include an activity excluded by regulation.
Trading services does not include rental property management services that are trading services in relation to the rental of real estate.
Real Estate Team means a group of two or more licensees that is registered as a real estate team under Division 4 of Part 4.
Client means, in relation to a real estate professional, the principal who has engaged the real estate professional to provide real estate services to or on behalf of the principal.
Real Estate Advertising means any form of identification, promotion, solicitation, or representation relating to:
- Real estate;
- A trade in real estate; or
- The provision of real estate services.
Real estate advertising also includes a sign or other notice relating to real estate, a trade in real estate or the provision of real estate services.
Designated Agent means one or more licensees designated by the licensee’s or licensees’ related brokerage as the exclusive licensee or licensees, of all the licensees related to that brokerage, to provide real estate services to a client of the brokerage in respect of a trade in real estate.