Move to combine real estate boards across B.C. falls short


An attempt to amalgamate six real estate boards across British Columbia flopped this week, in spite of strong support from many members across the province.

The proposal also won a majority of support from members of the Greater Vancouver, South Okanagan and B.C. Northern real estate boards. But Fraser Valley, Okanagan Mainline and Kamloops all voted against.

The proposal needed support from four boards and 15,000 members to pass.

David Black, past president of the B.C. Northern Real Estate Board (BCNREB), said he was disappointed by the results of the vote.

"All the hard work we've put in over the last few years has gone for naught, I guess, for now," he said.

Benefits of amalgamation included quicker decision-making and $3-4 million in savings per year, "that could be put back into realtor services, promoting realtors, government liaison, all kinds of things like that."

He maintained the effort began long before the recent controversy over unethical practices emerged in the Lower Mainland. In June, the provincial government put an end to self-regulation by the industry, which was done through the Real Estate Council of B.C., appointing a regulator in its place.

As it stands, a realtor from another board can sell in the BCNREB but there can be subtle differences in the rules between jurisdictions. If those rules are broken, "we can go back to their board but there is nothing that says they have to do anything to them," Black said.

"It was just more of combining everything so everyone is working under the same rules, especially with things like professional standards, so that we could boot out those kinds of people and make sure those things don't happen anymore."

Black said the proposal was particularly important for the BCNREB because of its relatively small number of members at about 360.

"What I've found in the process is the critical mass for a real estate board is probably 1,000 to 1,200 realtors," he said. "If you have that many realtors, you can provide most if not all of the services that they need within your budget.

"With only 360 realtors, some of the things that are coming along are big ticket items. We supply them but we really have to question whether they're worth the expenditure and the goal is that the realtor in Burns Lake would have the same tools to do the job that a realtor on Burrard Street would."

Had the amalgamation gone ahead, the new board would have represented about 85% of the realtors in the province.

"We would have had a much stronger voice," Black said.

Prince George Citizen

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