From the time my kids were little whiffles, I had to tell them that the game is only fun if we all play by the same rules. If everyone tries to play a game of soccer, Monopoly™, or even tag, all following their own set of rules, it would end up being chaotic and not very fun for anyone. The same principle applies to the real estate industry but with a higher ideal. The rules not only ensure an even playing field for all REALTORS® but also protection of the consumer as well. It would be great if there was only one set of rules to follow, but in the real estate world there are several, all with different intentions, but all important. Let’s take a quick look at the various rules Realtors® in Alberta must follow in the course of daily business.
The Real Estate Act of Alberta is the legislation approved by the elected members of the legislative assembly in Alberta and overseen by the Ministry of Service Alberta. The Act is the highest level of guidance for the functioning of the real estate industry in Alberta and establishes the fundamental parts required to regulate the real estate industry such as the composition and functional boundaries of the Real Estate Council of Alberta and conduct proceedings. As it relates to the REALTOR®, the Act paints with a broad brush only requiring additional meat on those basic bones.
Enter the Real Estate Act Rules. The rules are established and enforced by the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA), whose existence, composition, and operation are dictated by the Real Estate Act itself. By creating the rules, RECA can establish in much greater detail the practical and logistical outworking of the standards of practice for licensees in Alberta. The Real Estate Act Rules also form the basis of standards of practice by which all licensees are held to account. It is important to understand that consumer complaints received by RECA about a licensee will be compared against these Real Estate Act Rules to determine if there is a violation of the standards of practice they outline.
Unlike other jurisdictions in Canada, all 10 real estate boards and associations in Alberta have agreed to operate under a common set of professional conduct and MLS® system rules that bind all REALTORS® in Alberta to a common standard. These rules give further specific requirements to the proper conduct and relationship of Realtors® in connection with their membership in the various boards and associations. As these provincial REALTOR® rules must still work within the Act and the Act Rules, The provincially harmonized rule set provides more practical application-based rules specific to the practice and interactions in and through real estate including the accepted use of the MLS® system. These rules are likely to be most applicable to the daily practice of Realtors®.
Now the rubber meets the road. Since a licensee can only trade in real estate when registered with a real estate brokerage, it is a requirement of all licensees that they follow their brokerage's established policies and procedures. As a matter of establishing a licensed brokerage, a real estate broker must establish written policies and procedures applicable to the way they plan to operate their brokerage. This could include very practical things such as where to send paperwork, and office hours, up to the licensee's responsibilities under other legislation like Do Not Call legislation, FINTRAC requirements, or Anti-spam legislation. Because these policies and procedures are established at a brokerage level they must be followed by all registrants of the brokerage as long as they do not conflict with other rules or legislation.
Most of us are bent towards cutting our own path through this world, and even more so for the entrepreneurial spirit of REALTORS®, however, the different levels of rules and regulation are placed as fence posts and road signs to keep all real estate stakeholders safe from liability and out of trouble. The first step is to know what rules and regulations are applicable and then read them to understand their requirements clearly. If in doubt talk to a real estate broker about specific situations.
Provincial Practice Advisor
Bryan has many years of experience in the real estate industry including over 10 years as a former broker in the Edmonton Region.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: 403-209-3619