When unlicensed entities or people carry out real estate transactions it puts consumers at risk. A licensed real estate associate representing your interests provides many benefits:
- Knowledge and Ongoing Education - All Alberta industry professionals complete comprehensive pre-licensing education, along with ongoing mandatory professional development to ensure current industry knowledge.
- Assurance Fund - This fund protects the financial position of consumers who’ve been the victim of fraud or breach of trust by a licensed industry professional. The fund is supported by licensed Alberta industry professional contributions. It’s important to note that this fund isn’t available for consumers who dealt with unlicensed individuals. Without Assurance Fund protection consumers have no recourse except to take legal action or accept their losses.
- Complaints and Discipline - Licensed Alberta industry professionals follow a standard of practice specified by real estate legislation. However, if a consumer complains about their dealings with an unlicensed person, RECA’s jurisdiction is restricted to investigating whether the person conducted an activity that required a licence. In these cases, RECA cannot discipline for how badly the activity was performed or how greatly the consumer was disadvantaged.
The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) recommends you confirm the licence status of the real estate or mortgage representative online. If they have a licence history, an explanatory legend and current licence status is displayed. If you see the message “no records match,” it’s time to start asking questions. There may be a simple explanation. You can ask to see their Registration Certificate, speak to their broker or call RECA directly.
A licensed real estate professional acts for either the buyer or the seller in a trade or possible trade in real estate and has a duty to protect their client's interests. In a formal agency relationship, the real estate professional has the highest level of legal responsibility to their client. These responsibilities include:
- Undivided Loyalty - The agent must act only in their client's best interests and put them above their own and those of other people. The agent must avoid conflicts of interest and must protect their client's negotiating position at all times.
- Confidentiality - The agent must keep information confidential, even after their relationship with their client ends. Confidential information includes personal information, information about the property, and information about the transaction (except information the law requires you to disclose or information their client agrees to disclose.
- Full disclosure - The agent must tell their client, in writing, about the services they will provide. They must also tell their client everything they know that might affect your relationship or influence your decision in a transaction, even if they don't think it's important. This includes any conflicts of interest, for example when they act (or are planning to act) on behalf of any other person in a transaction. The only information they can't provide their client is confidential information from another client's agency relationship.
- Obedience - The agent must abide by all lawful, reasonable, and ordinary instructions provided by their client. If their client insist on something unlawful, the agent must refuse and consider ending both the representation relatonship and the relationship agreement.
- Reasonable Care and Skill - The agent must exercise reasonable care and skill in their duties. They must meet the standard of a reasonable and competent member of the real estate industry.
- Full Accounting - The agent must account for all money and property they receive while acting on their client's behalf.
Make an informed choice about your representation and your relationship with your real estate professional. A licensed real estate professional is required to explain the responsibilities and limits of these relationships to their client. Visit RECA for additional consumer information and download their guide on Wriitten Service Agreements..