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TRESA in Ontario- Everything You Need to Know About It!

If you’re in the market for a new home or planning to sell your property in Ontario, staying current with the latest real estate industry changes is a must. Recently, the Trust in Real Estate Services Act (TRESA) has come into effect and will have a strong impact on how real estate professionals operate in the province.

Image depicting TRESA in Ontario - a new code of ethics for Realtors

So, what will change? And do you have to wait before scouting for houses for sale in Waterdown or Brampton? Well, not really. Stay with us as we explain everything about TRESA in Ontario and how it impacts the buying and selling process in the province.

Some Background on TRESA

The Trust in Real Estate Services Act (TRESA) officially replaced the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act (REBBA) on December 1, 2023, with the implementation of Phase 2 regulations.

In 2009, the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) sought to modernize the legislation governing the real estate profession. In 2020, TRESA was established as a response to enhance consumer protection and provide increased choice for consumers. With TRESA, REALTORS® in Ontario are expected to operate with the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, training, and cutting-edge tools.

TRESA Phase 2 introduces stricter enforcement measures aimed at addressing misconduct and bolstering confidence in the real estate profession. This legislative shift marks a pivotal moment in elevating the standards and integrity of real estate services in Ontario.

Open Offers: Enhancing Transparency in the Buying Process

One significant change that TRESA has introduced is the nod to open offers.

Previously, only limited information about offers could be disclosed, but now, with the seller’s permission, realtors can share the details of competing offers with other potential buyers. This open offer process promotes transparency while safeguarding personal and identifying information.

It aligns with the growing demand for open offers, as proved by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) offering to display offers publicly on a home’s REALTOR.ca listing page.

A Shift from “Customers” to “Clients”

TRESA brings about a change in terminology, replacing the term “customer” with either “client” or “self-represented party.” A client refers to an individual with a representation agreement with a brokerage, while a self-represented party is not associated with any brokerage.

This change emphasizes the importance of establishing a formal client relationship when receiving services from a brokerage. It ensures that clients receive the highest professional guidance and support throughout their real estate journey.

Introducing Designated Representation

Designated representation is a concept successfully implemented in other provinces and is now coming to Ontario.

This model allows brokerages to represent multiple clients in a transaction without compromising impartiality. When clients enter into a designated representation agreement, they are represented by the entire brokerage but can still work closely with a specific broker or salesperson. This approach ensures that each client receives personalized attention while maintaining the integrity of the transaction.

Strengthening Regulation and Ethical Standards

TRESA empowers the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) to enforce compliance more effectively to maintain high ethical standards within the industry.

Previously, RECO’s disciplinary committee only handled allegations of non-compliance with the Code of Ethics. However, the committee now has the authority to address any compliance failures related to the new regulations. This expanded scope allows for stricter penalties, including the suspension, revocation, or imposition of conditions on a realtor’s registration.

Prioritizing Consumer Protection

As part of the changes brought about by TRESA, all real estate professionals in Ontario must adhere to an updated Code of Ethics. This revised code focuses on consumer protection and reducing conflicts of interest. The new Code of Ethics is pretty short, with only two pages dedicated to ethical requirements for realtors. Technical and procedural requirements have been moved to other resources, streamlining the code and making it more accessible for real estate professionals and consumers.

The updated Code of Ethics also reinforces the importance of accurate representation. Realtors are now explicitly instructed to make their best efforts to ensure that any representations they make are accurate and not misleading. This commitment to accuracy helps to build trust between realtors and their clients, fostering a more reliable and transparent real estate market in Ontario.

Looking Ahead: Future Initiatives and Continuing Education

While Phase 2 of TRESA has been successfully launched, more developments are still on the horizon. OREA is actively working on initiatives for Phase 3 of TRESA, aiming to enhance further the professional standards and practices of real estate professionals.

Some focus areas include regulations to support specialty certifications, improved continuing education programs, and an updated registration process for RECO.

OREA is committed to advocating for the best interests of realtors and their clients. However, there is no support for cooling-off periods that allow buyers to back out of real estate transactions. Experience from other regions, such as British Columbia, has shown that cooling-off periods primarily benefit speculators and can disrupt the market for both buyers and sellers. OREA believes maintaining a fair and efficient real estate market is crucial for all parties involved.

Resources for Ontario Realtors

OREA provides a wealth of resources and guidance to support realtors in navigating the changes brought about by TRESA. Members can access the “TRESA in 2” videos, which concisely explain the fundamental changes and their implications for realtors and brokerages. Additionally, OREA offers comprehensive forms resources, including the 2024 Forms, to ensure that realtors have the necessary tools to comply with the new regulations.

TRESA resources are available at OREA, including 2024 forms

OREA’s Standard Forms resources cover a wide range of topics related to TRESA, including timing, the impact on day-to-day business, and the trading requirements and obligations for realtors. These resources are designed to equip realtors with the knowledge and understanding needed to navigate the evolving landscape of Ontario real estate successfully.

An Ethical Evolution

TRESA represents a groundbreaking milestone in the evolution of the Ontario real estate industry, particularly for first-time home buyers. This initiative strongly emphasizes transparency, consumer protection, and ethical standards, aiming to improve the overall experience for buyers and sellers.

With its commitment to open offers, designated representation, and the reinforcement of regulations and ethical standards, TRESA is positioning Ontario as a leader in setting unparalleled professional standards for REALTORS® involved in facilitating real estate transactions.

These new regulations are designed to elevate transparency, strengthen consumer protections, and enhance the overall experience for individuals navigating the real estate market. To navigate these changes effectively, realtors and prospective buyers or sellers must familiarize themselves with TRESA. Staying up-to-date with everything about TRESA in Ontario will be key, as well as collaborating with knowledgeable professionals who grasp the intricacies of these new regulations.

With TRESA now in effect, Ontario’s real estate industry is poised for a future characterized by enhanced transparency and increased consumer confidence, offering a positive outlook for those searching for houses for sale in Toronto and other cities in the province.

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