Ontario’s Homebuyer Complaints Surge

By Ben Hamill - April 30 2021

Ontario’s Homebuyer Complaints Surge

The Ontario housing market is under scrutiny after numerous buyers voiced their complaints in recent weeks. Carla Vanderdeen-Fenech was the first to draw attention to the issue after she was forced to live in a friend’s basement with her family for five months. This happened despite her paying a healthy down payment of $1.1 million on a house of her own.

She believes that if agents weren’t breaking the rules to milk as much money out of buyers as possible, this would never have happened. Vanderdeen-Fenech said that she is sharing her story to warn others as the housing market continues to intensify.

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Complaint Filed With RECO

Earlier this year, Vanderdeen-Fenech filed a complaint with the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). She stated that a local listing agent, who she refuses to name for fear of ruining their reputation, broke the rules by sharing the price of a competing bid for the house the family wanted to buy on Hamilton Mountain.

She said that the listing agent had called her after her offer had expired, notifying her that her bid was one of the top five and had the largest deposit. However, another bid offered $80,000 more, so the agent advised her to make a better offer.

House Was Sold For Less

In the end, Vanderdeen-Fenech said that she opted not to raise her bid and that the home did not sell for $80,000 more than her offer. According to Rob Golfie, an agent with ReMax Escarpment Golfi Realty Inc., this is not an isolated incident. He said that there are lots of bad things happening out there in the real estate market, but most of them are hard to prove.

Brian Buchan, a spokesperson for RECO, said that complaints like Vanderdeen-Fenech’s one are becoming a lot more common given the hot housing market. According to Buchan, from this time last year to the first quarter of 2021, homebuyer complaints have jumped by a whopping 38%.

He also said that if the allegations against Vanderdeen-Fenech’s agent are true, the agent will then be in a clear violation of the rules. If it is found that the listing agent has broken the rules, the possible outcomes range from finding a resolution with the complainant to the agent losing their license. The real estate code of ethics states that an agent may disclose the number of offers but can never reveal the substance of an offer or who has made the offer.

Vanderdeen-Fenech and her family did eventually find a home in Hamilton. They are set to move in at the end of April.

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