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Posted: March 21, 2021

Single regulator for real estate on the way in

The B.C. government is making legislative amendments to pave the way for BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) to become the single regulator for real estate in B.C. later in 2021.

Moving to a single regulator is a significant step to help BCFSA continue to address fraudulent activities and build protections against money laundering, stated a Ministry of Finance media release.

In 2019, the province announced that B.C. would be moving to a single regulator of financial services and real estate by bringing the responsibilities of the Real Estate Council of British Columbia and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate under BCFSA. The amendments will help create a single authority responsible for regulating real estate in B.C. to ensure a more co-ordinated approach to all segments of the financial services sector.

Creating a single regulator for real estate was a key recommendation from the Real Estate Regulatory Structure Review in 2018, as well as the Expert Panel on Money Laundering in BC Real Estate in 2019.

“Whether it’s buying a home or remortgaging an existing property, British Columbians should be at ease knowing one of the biggest purchases of their lives is conducted safely and securely,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. “These changes will help protect consumers and better co-ordinate oversight of B.C.’s financial services sector, including the real estate market.ā€

BCFSA currently regulates B.C.’s financial services market, including credit unions, trust companies, registered pension plans, insurance companies and mortgage brokers. The amendments introduced to the Real Estate Services Act will give BCFSA authority with respect to:

* education and licensing for real estate professionals;

* establishing rules governing the conduct for real estate professionals; and

* investigation and discipline for licensed and unlicensed individuals.

In addition, amendments to financial institutions legislation were introduced to empower the superintendent of financial institutions with most regulatory decision-making functions. This will enable BCFSA to operate more effectively as it acquires a new major set of responsibilities around real estate, the Ministry of Finance said.

These legislative changes will enable BCFSA to become the fully integrated financial services sector regulator later in the year.

“Bringing the regulation of financial services and real estate under one roof will allow BCFSA to become a modern, efficient and effective regulator for B.C.’s entire financial services sector. By integrating and enhancing its investigative, compliance and enforcement capacity and approach, BCFSA will provide strengthened consumer protection and foster increased public confidence,ā€ said Blair Morrison, CEO, BC Financial Services Authority.

“By centralizing our expertise under BCFSA, we will be building on our strengths and streamlining our work to better protect consumers in British Columbia. As the financial services and real estate markets are rapidly changing, we will focus on innovation and continuous improvement, bringing a single lens to the oversight of financial services and real estate with enhanced information sharing,ā€ added Micheal Noseworthy, head of the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate.

Erin Seeley, CEO, Real Estate Council of British Columbia noted the changes will help ā€œmodernize and strengthen our regulatory system, while keeping the focus on protecting consumers. Public protection continues to be our priority as we move toward a single regulator and beyond.”

Read the Real Estate Regulatory Structure Review.

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