A real estate agent has been disciplined for professional misconduct and lost his licence for five years after acting as both the buyer and seller of a grocery, accommodation and storage property in Clinton.
Ross Chonn was also ordered to attend remedial education and pay fines totalling $74,813.45 for his “flagrant disregard” of real estate rules, according to a three-person disciplinary committee, which included chairperson Sandra Heath and members Neal Nicholson and Ruth Hanson.
“With respect to the respondent’s age and experience, the council submitted that Chonn had been involved in real estate in some capacity since 1992, and had more than enough experience to know better than to breach his fundamental fiduciary duty of honesty and good faith,” the ruling stated.
A former agent for One Percent Realty, Chonn was the listing agent in October 2016 for a husband and wife, identified only as Mr. Lxx and Ms. Wxxx, who wanted to sell the Clinton property for $250,000. When the property didn’t get much interest, Chonn told the sellers his wife would buy it.
But while the sellers were aware that Chonn was also acting as agent for his wife, the committee found he did not make the couple aware of what was going on, nor did he produce a signed Dual Agency agreement, which would have informed the Clinton couple that he was in a conflict of interest.
Realtors are prohibited from acting as both the buyer and seller.
“Ms. Wxxx’s evidence was that she did not understand she was entering into a limited dual agency, and she did not sign a limited dual agency agreement,” the committee wrote.
“A client must be fully informed of a conflict of interest in order to make an informed decision as to whether to continue to be represented.”
Chonn also then cancelled the listing with One Percent Realty and didn’t ask the sellers if they wanted him to continue to represent them. He became a listing agent with Fair Realty in February 2017.
He also failed to take reasonable steps to avoid a conflict of interest when he and his wife and two small children moved into the house – with Ms. Wxxx – a month before the sale was completed. He did not provide compensation to the sellers.
“On cross-examination, Mr. Chonn confirmed that as a realtor, he was aware of the consequences of this action,” the ruling stated. “However, he did not disclose the conflict to either party, and did not take steps to mitigate the situation by paying rent for an early move-in.”
Chonn was unable to produce any documents relating to the dual agency, telling the hearing that “unfortunately, when (he) moved to Clinton, one box of files got dumped in the garbage.” However, he had details relating to the contract and purchase of the property.
A few months later, he also tried to sell the property for $499,000, describing it as an “attractive and thriving business.”
“Ultimately, the respondent’s flagrant disregard for the RESA and the rules, and his behaviour during the hearing process, warranted notional cancellation, along with a prohibition against his reapplying for licensure for a substantial period of five years.”
The full decision can be found here.