With the new mortgage rules passed by the federal government all but high income earners and wealthy overseas buyers have been effectively shut out of the Greater Vancouver real estate market. This realtor however has more than just his shrinking market to worry about, such as reverse racial discrimination in the real estate market and what he calls abuse of authority by a semi-privatised regulatory agency. Is the Vancouver real estate market divided along racial lines?
When Murat Kadioglu took his client to a condominium developer in Richmond, BC, he wasn't exactly received on a welcome mat. The Chinese realtor representing the developer told him that he was intruding into "the Chinese market." Eventually, he says, they tore up his sales contract and made a deal directly with his client, robbing him of his commission. He says his managing broker, a Chinese Canadian, wasn't interested at all in pursuing the commission and came up with excuses not to do anything about it. As a last resort he sued the Chinese developer for damages.
The developer settled with Kadioglu out of court, but apparently not without making a vindictive call to his managing broker. "It was Thursday when he called me to his office" he says. "He told me that I had embarrassed him with his fellow Chinese and didn't want to see me again in his office. He said he would return my license to the BC Real Estate Council unless I found another broker and transferred out on my own." Since that would've meant in effect his suspension as a realtor, Kadioglu managed to make an agreement with a new broker on Saturday. As the Council was closed on the weekend, however, he transferred his license first thing Monday morning.
A complication arose on the intervening Sunday when one of his clients wanted to make an offer on a property ASAP. His new broker told him that since he had been fired it would be best for his client to process the transaction through his company. After advising his client and obtaining his consent Kadioglu agreed. Since the sellers of the property were scattered around the globe, he says, the transaction took four weeks to complete but to the complete satisfaction of his client. He was therefore shocked to receive a letter from the BC Real Estate Council that his former broker had filed a complaint with BC Real Estate Council after he found out about that transaction, and the Council was going after him.
The affidavit he filed with the Council with a positive statement from his client did not have any effect. The Council's position is that the client belonged to his former broker. The Council scheduled a disciplinary hearing with the allegation that Kadioglu broke the law and jeopardised his client's interests by processing the transaction through his new broker. Kadioglu says that this is an employment and commission dispute between a realtor and his broker that the Council shouldn't have been involved in especially in the absence of any consumer complaint. He has on file several letters from the Council stating that it has no mandate to get involved in broker-realtor disputes. Kadioglu alleges that this is nothing but a witch hunt motivated by raising revenues for a highly paid privatised bureaucracy even if it means helping vindicate racial discrimination in British Columbia.
There is some evidence to support Kadioglu's allegation. Apparently the Council can investigate realtors with or without a consumer complaint or probable cause. Realtors accused of breaching council rules or the Real Estate Services Act are often urged to plead guilty and pay fines and Council's expenses under the threat of stiffer penalties that could be imposed at the disciplinary hearing, such as the loss or suspension of license and thousands of dollars of investigation and adjudication expenses. Those who lose at a disciplinary hearing must be ready to dish out more money if they appeal to the Financial Services Tribunal, another semi-private tribunal that charges a $850 filing fee compared to the filing fees of $200 and $300 at the BC Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, respectively. To add insult to the injury, decisions on realtors that plead guilty or lose at the hearing or on appeal are publicised in the Council's newsletter and listed in public databases to ensure that their reputations don't go unscathed.
Kadioglu denies any wrongdoing. He says he acted in good faith under the advice of his new employer for the best interests of his client and is being persecuted as the weakest party at the bottom of the food chain in a system set up to profit from realtors. He believes the Council has overstepped its mandate for consumer protection and intends to take this matter as far as the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary.
BC Real Estate Council is product of a self-regulating scheme whereby a regulator enjoys statutory authority without the public accountability of a government department or agency. Privatising regulatory functions of government under delegated authority or under the so-called "self-regulating schemes" proliferated in British Columbia within the past decade. Another example is Consumer Protection BC, formerly known as BPCPA and notorious among travel agents for its high-handed treatment of licensees and lack of competence on the travel industry. Consumer Protection BC executives are private sector employees for purposes of compensation and independence from government but double up as civil servants as it fits the occasion. This author has been unable to obtain any disclosure on executive compensation of BPCPA or CPBC in spite of several requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.