“Cooling off” period, end to blind bidding recommended by BCFSA

"Cooling off' period, end to blind bidding recommended by BCFSA

The province's real estate regulator has proposed a three business day "cooling off" period to protect buyers.

A report released by the B.C. Financial Services Authority recommends that sellers be obligated to provide sufficient access for property inspections during the three-day homebuyer protection period, which commence the day after offer acceptance.

The report also suggests that the province legislate a "modest" termination fee, between 0.1 to 0.5 per cent of the purchase price, should a buyer back out of a deal.

This fee "strikes a balance between discouraging frivolous offers and recognizing the disruption in the selling process,'' detailed the report.

The report also recommends a five day "pre-offer" period once a property is first listed, where a seller cannot accept any offers, as well as suggestions in improving transaction transparency. In that light, the release suggested that crucial documents be made readily available when a strata property is listed.

The B.C government rolled out changes to property legislation back in March. Finance Minister Selina Robinson challenged the regulator in deliberating with the real estate sector in regards to the framework of a cooling-off period.

Robinson says the province is in the process of reviewing the report, and she intends to move "relatively quickly" with the bill that passed its third reading in April, though the real estate sector will need time to adjust any changes.

"I'm eager to move on these elements. I do need to have more discussion with [the B.C. Financial Services Authority] and others around what time frame is needed to act, certainly around the buyer protection period,'' said Robinson.

BCFSA CEO Blair Morrison, explained at a recent news conference, that there would be "adjustments" to the current transaction process, to help enable the homebuyer protection period.

Morrison said the authority held over 20 discussion sessions with over 140 people across all facets of B.C.'s real estate industry.

"We think this is core, basic, good consumer protection that should apply throughout British Columbia. We want to make sure this works for the sector, for the real estate [agents], for the lawyers and other parts of that process,'' he explained.