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Province seeks input on real estate professionals

THE province wants your advice on how it should deal with real estate agents as it prepares to redraft legislation for how homes and condos are bought and sold in Manitoba.

The rewrite of the legislation came at the request of the Manitoba Securities Commission, which is responsible for administering the Real Estate Brokers Act and the Mortgage Brokers Act. It's also being conducted in conjunction with the Manitoba Real Estate Association.

Consumer Protection Minister Ron Lemieux said he wants public input on issues such as agent fees, duties of agents, bidding-up prices and confusion over whether agents are working for the buyer or the seller.

"It's a fantastic time, quite frankly, in the market to address this," Lemieux said. "We've never seen the kind of sales that we've had over the last 10 years in Manitoba. It's unprecedented with housing starts and just real estate alone overall has been unbelievable. But it's time for a rewrite."

The survey is at www.manitoba.ca/finance/realestate. The closing date is Feb. 28.

Written submissions can be sent by email to realestate@gov.mb.ca or by regular mail to the Manitoba Securities Commission, 500-400 St. Mary Ave., Winnipeg R3C 4K5.

Lemieux said aspects of the survey include whether agents fully explain legal documents, explain the history of a home or condo to potential buyers and handle multiple offers.

"People are saying, 'Why is it that we pay a flat per cent on the sale of a house?' " Lemieux added. "It varies across the country. Is this something people are satisfied with?"

In Manitoba, there is no standard commission rate. The rate can either be a percentage of the selling price or a flat fee, which are both negotiable.

Manitoba Real Estate Association chief executive officer Brian Collie said an example of where the legislation has to be updated is the recognition of electronic documents and signatures.

The current legislation has not been significantly changed in about 30 years. The new legislation is to be introduced this spring.

Lemieux said the province will also launch public consultations on home renovations and repairs.

"Some people don't know what they are doing," he said. "They knock down a support wall and then you have your roof crumbling on you a year after the people have left town. That's not good for the consumer."

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