Shadow flipping—which involves reassigning a real estate contract multiple times before the sale is concluded—is currently not illegal in Canada, but the agents involved are required to reveal their intentions to prospective clients beforehand.
Industry players said that the arrangement is a helpful out for clients whose financial circumstances drastically change after they’ve already made their offers, but other less scrupulous realtors and buyers are taking advantage of the practice.
“It's almost like the wild, wild West in terms of what people are doing. They're trying to make a quick buck, but they have no intention of taking possession of that home,” Vancouver real estate agent Aaron Jasper told CBC News
He added that the prevalence of this practice might cause would-be buyers to lose faith in the industry.
Jasper, who also previously served as the park board commissioner, noted that the continued lack of serious consequences for those who are gaming the system would eventually cause Vancouver real estate prices to spike up.
“Whether you're a doctor on the west side or an average Joe on the east side, it really is putting housing out of reach for everybody across the city,” Jasper said.
In the wake of the B.C. Real Estate Council’s recent formation of an advisory group that would investigate the increased incidence of shadow flipping in Vancouver’s robust housing market, observers noted that prices might see an upward trend if the practice remains unabated.