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