Lies on the MLS targeted by regulators

by |
Regulators will be coming down hard on Realtors whose clients have misrepresented home details in a bid to bolster listings.

“The listing that appears on the MLS is fundamentally an ad that is placed by the sales rep,” says Bruce Matthews, the deputy registrar of regulatory compliance for the Real Estate Council of Ontario. “And they have to assume accountability for the information that’s there.”

But my seller told me so is also no excuse for white lies in listings, Matthews says, arguing the onus is squarely on agents to ensure due diligence has been properly completed.

Matthews pointed to two particular provisions in RECO’s code of ethics that are most frequently complained about. The first is regarding inaccurate representation – “For example, if you’ve got a home that is 1,900 square feet but the listing suggests that it’s 2,000 square feet,” Matthews says.

The second provision aims to prevent error and misrepresentation. For example, a listing that suggests a home is made of brick, when it’s really just a brick front, with siding on the rest of the home.

“All of their dealings in a trade require honesty, integrity and professionalism,” Matthews says.

Other common complaints revolve around things that Matthews says are easy for agents to look up. For example, the age of the building, the square footage of a unit, the annual property taxes, and whether the driveway is shared or private. The water source is also an issue for more rural properties, and in the condo market, listings often confuse what legally constitutes a bedroom – oftentimes the space is just a den.

“The responsibility is entirely on the rea l estate sales professional,” Matthews says. “It’s information that is easily verified and it’s important for agents to verify that before it goes in the listing.” 
  • Ian March on 2014-11-05 12:46:37 PM

    In my view is the misrepresentation of "income or Nanny suites" and the underhanded way some agents are telling people to remove a stove so that it can not officially be an apartment. But the crunch comes when the By-law enforcement will do nothing even when advised of the illegality. Who ends up with a problem?? the buyer and the Real Estate industry. Mortgage Brokers must shoulder a lot of the blame as they are lending against an inflated price by not ensuring the apt is legal.

  • Bob on 2014-11-05 1:02:28 PM

    My neighbour bought their home in the winter and the yard was covered in snow. The listing realtor stated the yard was fully landscaped, when the snow melted there wasnt even any top soil. The seller moved back east & the realtor "claimed" not to now. The home was less than 1yr old and none of the properties in the subdivision had been landscaped, some realtors are as reputable as used car salesmen

  • DB on 2014-11-05 1:19:12 PM

    Well this discussion should bring to the fore front those agents who merely post a listing for a seller for a fee. IE: discount companies offering services on MLS from locations hundreds if not "thousands" of km from the property. Please tell me how the agent has done any work, measuring or the ability to represent the "listing" accuracy. Another reason you "get nothing, for doing nothing" and take all the risk. When does the Competition Bureau walk in and realize that the FSBO show shouldn't be on our MLS system.

  • judy on 2014-11-05 1:22:57 PM

    These problems can also be attributed to computer programs that don't have enough classifications, ie: a 1BR plus den is worth more than a 1BR, but the former's price will look too high. Some flexible features hold value to all parties: sellers and buyers and comment space is not adequate.

  • Mortgage Guy Geoff on 2014-11-05 1:45:53 PM

    @DB...well put. Perhaps TREB should publicize the "danger" of these types of MLS postings. The problem is TREB's message is weakened by Registrants that, as noted in the article, knowingly or otherwise provide inaccurate info on listings. Until RECO stops simply pounding its chest and starts actually penalizing bad operators these problems will continue.

  • Matt on 2014-11-06 10:44:27 AM

    What about realtors who advertise a cashback or incentive at closing? - it is a well known fact that amount of any cashback or incentive included in a purchase and sale agreement, will be deducted from the funds advanced by the lender, making the cashback obsolete. All three mortgage insurers stand by this guidleine, and you would be hard pressed to find any lender that also would not stand by it. The sad part is that alot of times buyers end up getting to the closing date thinking they will have an extra $5000 to do reno's only to find out that is not the case.

Broker news forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions