The Toronto real estate market has been going gangbusters in 2016 with over 20% increases in the average selling price for all homes since last year but for some Toronto realtors, the commissions don’t seem to be enough.
An investigative report released this week by CBC Marketplace, Canada’s consumer watchdog, revealed 6 out of 10 top Toronto realtors openly willing to engage in a shady practice known as “double ending”.
What Is Double Ending In Real Estate?
Double ending is when a realtor represents both the seller and buyer of a home, resulting in double commissions for the agent. This questionably ethical practice the seller at a disadvantage when there are multiple offers on the table.
Studies have shown that sales are 1.4% lower on average when the agent represents both the buyer and the seller. This might not seem like much but we’re talking about $11,000 on the average Toronto home price.
The video shows little to no convincing is needed to get agents sharing competing bids with buyers, punishable with big fines and even revoking their license in extreme cases.
The first step to protecting yourself is by getting familiar with some of the tactics used by the less ethical realtors and a few red flags to watch out for.
“We have our tricks that are, you know, just on the borderline of legal.” – Anonymous Toronto realtor
CBC Exposes The Ugly Side of Toronto’s Top Realtors
The investigation made some pretty unsettling revelations about what’s going on in the market:
- Only 2 out of 10 agents investigated stood their ethical ground and advised against having them represent both sides of the deal.
- One agent was caught bragging that 65% of their deals are double ended and how that’s good for the buyer because they “have an inside idea of what’s going on.”
- Don’t expect the law to change anytime soon. When confronted with the video evidence, Ontario’s Minister of Government and Consumer Services Marie France Lalonde doesn’t seem to feel like there’s an issue.
- Most of the agents busted on camera said they’ve done nothing wrong and were “merely passing on their expertise” with one agent admitting it “happens all the time”.
How Double Ending Cost One GTA Seller $30,000
In one of the more shocking revelations from CBC’s investigation, one Toronto realtor blocked an offer that was $30,000 above what the home actually sold for.
Why? The agent representing the home had another offer from one of his own clients and double commission ends up being a much bigger payday. Click the video below to watch the story.
Let’s assume the price of this house was $800,000. The agent would have made only an extra $750 to accept an offer worth $830,000 for a total commission of $20,750.
A double-ended deal on $800,000 would net the agent a whopping $40,000 commission.
“I have control on both sides. You and him. Okay? Before any other offer comes to make it a multiple offer situation, I try to close the deal for you. I use my power in order to get you the house.” – Anonymous Toronto Realtor
How To Protect Yourself As a Seller
A representative from the Real Estate Board was clearly appalled by the behaviour CBC captured on video but their system only disciplines agents if they receive a complaint.
Since bidding wars happen behind closed doors in secret, sellers caught in this situation have no idea when this occurs unless they go digging after the sale.
Double ended deals aren’t illegal or unethical when handled right.
As long as you know your rights and the right questions to ask, you can find a Toronto realtor that’s committed to protecting your best interests.
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5 Ways To Make Sure Your Realtor Isn’t Ripping You Off
Ready to sell your Toronto home? You deserve someone that’s going to work for you, not against you.
Here’s five ways to vet your realtor and make sure you’re not getting ripped off:
1. Find out their policy on double-ending deals with multiple offers
Make sure the agent selling your home isn’t representing the buyer when there are multiple bids. When I set an offer date and there are other offers on the table, it would be massively unfair for me as the agent to have my own buyer in on that while representing the seller. Can you say conflict of interest?
Like we discovered in the CBC Marketplace piece, it’s very hard for the other buyers to believe the agent didn’t disclose confidential info like those agents in the video did or said they would do.
2. Does your agent disclose to buyers they serve your interests FIRST?
It is your agent’s responsibility to get you as much money as possible when selling your home. This includes running a fair bidding process where they’re only involved on the listing side.
3. Request stats from the agent’s previous listings and sale prices.
We always share 100% of our stats to anybody all the time (even if they aren’t a client) because we have absolutely nothing to hide. Consider it a major red flag if an agent withholds this information – it is 100% within your rights to request it.
You’ll see details like sales volume, selling prices, how long a home tends to be on the market before selling and the bidding history from past sales. All of this is important info that will help you in the decision-making process.
4. Does your realtor pass the gut test?
You need to be comfortable with the person that will be selling your most valuable asset so listen to your gut when interviewing a potential realtor.
“At the end of the day, I think your most important element is sort of the subjective stuff. Are you comfortable with this person? Can you relate with them? Can you communicate with them? Are they on the same wavelength with you?”
– Former Toronto Real Estate Board president Stephen Moranis
5. How will your realtor market the sale of your home?
I invest up to 1% of the sale price into every home I list into repairs, maintenance and staging because it ultimately means bigger and faster sales for the client. Anybody can show up and take pictures with an iPhone (and sadly, a lot of agents do this!) but it’s the little things that add up to make a big difference when it’s time to write that cheque.
Make sure your agent is offering you the following services included in your realtor fees.
- High resolution photography
- 3D virtual tours
- Professionally measured floor plans
- Printed feature sheets
- Minor repairs and maintenance
- Professional staging
- Cleaning prior to first showing
Spring Realty Has Got Your Back, Toronto
You know all those “free home evaluation” postcards you receive in your mailbox almost daily? Not only is our evaluation free, we’ll bring you a bottle of wine so worst case: we meet and you get wine.
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