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Beyond Transactions: How TRESA Reshapes Ontario's Real Estate Dynamics

Giancarlo Randazzo

Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with designations in Applied and Practical Ethics with an emphasis on business transactions, Giancarlo�...

Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with designations in Applied and Practical Ethics with an emphasis on business transactions, Giancarlo�...

Dec 5 7 minutes read

The unveiling of the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2002 (TRESA), marks a pivotal moment in Ontario's real estate narrative. As of December 1, 2023, TRESA has taken the reins, supplanting the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA). This legislative shift signifies a commitment to consumer protection, education, and the elevation of professional standards within the real estate sector.

To truly comprehend the magnitude of TRESA, a journey into its legislative history is imperative. Conceived from the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act of 2002, TRESA came to life on February 28, 2020, receiving Royal Assent on March 4, 2020. The initial phase of changes unfolded in October 2020, laying the groundwork for the sweeping amendments witnessed today.

The core objectives of TRESA are a beacon guiding the industry: empower consumers, enhance transparency, and fortify the professional standards of real estate practitioners. As we embark on an exploration of the chapters ahead, the multifaceted dimensions of TRESA and its profound impact on the real estate landscape in Ontario will unfold.

Dynamics of Open Bidding

A paradigm shift within TRESA lies in the allowance of open offers. It's not merely a procedural adjustment; it's a fundamental transformation in how real estate transactions unfold. Real Estate Brokers and Sales Representatives, armed with seller consent, now possess the ability to share intricate details of competing offers. This fosters a newfound transparency and openness in the bidding process, empowering both sellers and potential buyers. 

Sellers, under TRESA, retain control over the information shared and can change their minds about disclosing the content of offers at any point through the process. This balance between transparency and seller discretion ensures that the process remains fair and aligned with the best interests of those putting their homes on the market.

More Than Semantics

The semantic transition from "customer" to "client" or "self-represented party" within TRESA holds far-reaching implications. This alteration is not merely linguistic but reflects a deeper recognition of the dynamics within real estate transactions.

A Self-Represented Party (SRP) refers to a party not receiving services from a Brokerage concerning a real estate trade. There are two instances where a REALTOR® may engage with an SRP without providing what might be considered client services. Firstly, an SRP can receive general information related to real estate, such as market statistics. Secondly, a REALTOR® can offer assistance to an SRP, but only if that assistance is a service to or incidental to a service provided to their client. For instance, if a Salesperson representing the Seller shows a listing to an SRP and the SRP wishes to purchase the property, the REALTOR® can assist with the mechanics of filling out an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, but cannot provide advice or prompt reliance on their judgment or skill.

One of the transformative aspects of TRESA is the introduction of designated representation agreements. This introduces a personalized approach, allowing brokerages to represent multiple clients in a transaction without compromising impartiality. Designated representation is not just about avoiding conflicts; it's a mechanism ensuring that each client is actively represented by a specific broker or salesperson. This tailored approach maintains impartiality in transactions involving multiple clients.

Designated Representation provides Brokerages with the option to work with both the Buyer and the Seller in a single transaction without engaging in Multiple Representation. This model dictates that the duty owed to clients applies to the designated Salespersons within a Brokerage for specifically identified transactions, not to the Brokerage and all its REALTORS®. While the Listing Salesperson represents the Seller's best interests, another Salesperson at the same Brokerage can represent the best interests of the Buyer without being restricted by Multiple Representation. The Brokerage maintains oversight and responsibility for the Salespersons' fulfillment of duties to their respective clients.

For instance, Salesperson A of ABC Realty Inc. has a Designated Representation Agreement with the Seller, while Salesperson B, also of ABC Realty Inc., has a Designated Representation Agreement with the Buyer. The Buyer can purchase the property from the Seller without entering into Multiple Representation. A Designated Representative may assist an SRP, provided that the assistance is a service to their designated client.  

Multiple Representation occurs when a single Salesperson represents both the Seller and the Buyer as their Designated Representative. SRPs are offered the same general assistance under Multiple Representation.

Oversight Boost from TRESA

The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) emerges as a formidable guardian under TRESA, endowed with increased powers that extend beyond the Code of Ethics. This augmentation of authority is pivotal in ensuring compliance and enforcement efforts within the real estate sector.

Non-compliance with TRESA could lead to significant penalties under RECO's enhanced powers. These penalties, including suspension, revocation, or application of conditions to a realtor's registration, signify a stringent approach to maintaining professional standards.

The cornerstone of professionalism in Ontario's real estate sector lies in the updated Code of Ethics mandated by TRESA. This concise yet robust code places renewed emphasis on protecting against fraud, reducing conflicts of interest, and ensuring accurate representations.

We encourage all stakeholders in Ontario's real estate realm to stay informed, embrace change, and contribute to the ongoing evolution of the industry. TRESA is not a static moment but a dynamic force, urging adaptation to the evolving real estate landscape in Ontario.

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