On March 9 2021, the BC legislature passed Bill 8 which included changes to the Real Estate Services Act. None of the changes will take effect immediately. The biggest shift is that the legislation enables the amalgamation of Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC) and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE) within the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA). This integration is expected to take place this summer, though a firm date hasn’t yet been set.
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.
Additionally, 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. These legislative changes will enable BCFSA to become the regulator for B.C.’s entire financial services sector, including real estate, integrating and enhancing its investigative, compliance and enforcement capacity.
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.
“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. Moving to a single regulator is a significant step to help BCFSA continue to address fraudulent activities and build protections against money laundering.”
Micheal Noseworthy, head of the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate added, “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.”