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Real estate agent fined over $15000 for drinking milk at seller’s home

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The world’s most expensive milkshake is the epitome of luxury: a gold-flecked creation of Madagascar vanilla beans, donkey milk caramel sauce and Venezuelan cocoa that comes in a Swarovski crystal-encrusted glass and sells for $100 a pop.

A Canadian real estate agent will have to pay more than 150 times that much for taking a swig of plain milk.

After a home surveillance camera caught Mike Rose drinking milk straight out of the container at a house he was showing, the British Columbia Financial Services Authority, a government agency tasked with regulating the Canadian province’s financial institutions, on July 18 deemed Rose’s actions “unbecoming” under the British Columbia Real Estate Services Act. It fined him 20,000 Canadian dollars, or approximately $15,162. The agency also ordered Rose to pay an additional 2,500 Canadian dollars, or almost $1,896, in enforcement expenses, records show.

Rose did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, in a statement to local outlet CFJC Today, he apologized for the “very unfortunate, and very uncharacteristic, decision.”

“I have never done this kind of thing before, nor will I ever behave in this way again,” Rose said. “… Although I have apologized directly to the homeowners, I know that actions like this are not quickly forgiven nor easily forgotten. I will be spending the next few weeks considering my actions, better understanding why I would do this, and work to ensure this kind of [behavior] never occurs again.”

The incident occurred on July 16, 2022, in the city of Kamloops, before potential buyers were scheduled to arrive at the house for a viewing.

That day, homeowner Lyska Fullerton and her family had left the house ready, clean and with the lights on for what they initially thought would only be one viewing. Later in the evening, though, the Fullertons’ real estate agent told them there had been a second showing.

That’s when Fullerton went back to her Ring camera — a device originally “intended for my teenage kids, so I could keep an eye on them and make sure they went home on time,” she told The Washington Post. She figured she would see a real estate agent guiding a group of prospective buyers.

But what she found left her “utterly speechless, in shock and creeped out,” Fullerton said.

The footage showed Rose entering the home some 30 minutes before the buyers. That afternoon, he walked into the kitchen and pulled the window blinds open. Then, he opened the fridge, pulled out a carton of milk and took a long gulp. Rose then put the milk back inside the fridge and closed the door, the video showed.

To make matters worse, Fullerton added, the video also showed Rose sitting on the couch while the potential buyers visited the house. He broke the couch’s arm, she said.

“This was unprofessional in so many ways,” Fullerton said. “Every part of it was just such an invasion of privacy and such an invasion of our home.”

Seeing the video left Fullerton disgusted, she said — particularly because the incident happened during a global pandemic that heightened observations of personal hygiene and killed both her and her husband’s parents.

“In what world do you think that this is ever okay to do?” Fullerton said. “I wouldn’t even do that in my own family’s home.”

According to the order from the British Columbia Financial Services Authority, Rose told the agency he was “unusually dehydrated” at the time because of a new medication. He was also under “considerable stress,” the report shows.

Fullerton confronted Rose two days after the incident, when the prospective buyers went back for another viewing. When she asked him if there was anything he wanted to tell her about his last visit to the home, Fullerton said Rose replied, “The milk?”

She reported him after that.

For Fullerton, it’s not so much that Rose drank the milk — it’s how he didn’t let anyone know that he had done so, she said.

“It doesn’t bother me that he drank milk. I mean, maybe he had an upset stomach, for all I know,” she said. “But to do it in that way? He didn’t even leave a note or tell us this happened. I had to find out because of my camera, and that’s just gross and plain wrong.”

“It makes you question your trust in people who visit your home,” she added.

That’s the reason the financial services agency cited in fining Rose. In its order, the agency said Rose’s behavior was in violation of statutes in the British Columbia Real Estate Services Act, which deems “unbecoming” conduct as behavior that “undermines public confidence in the real estate industry” and “brings the real estate industry into disrepute.”

Despite the milk situation, the prospective buyers wound up becoming the home’s owners, and the Fullertons moved out later that month.

“We sold it pretty quickly right after that, which is great,” she said. “Because the new people can go on and have new memories there, and we don’t have to stick with the memories of what happened.”

As for the milk jug that started it all, Fullerton said she immediately poured it out.

“My husband came back home and watched me throw a half a gallon of milk in the trash,” she said. “He’s looking at me like I’m crazy and asked, ‘What are you doing?’”

She told him: “You don’t even want to know.”

 

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Former B.C. Realtor has licence cancelled, $130K in penalties for role in mortgage fraud

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The provincial regulator responsible for policing B.C.’s real estate industry has ordered a former Realtor to pay $130,000 and cancelled her licence after determining that she committed a variety of professional misconduct.

Rashin Rohani surrendered her licence in December 2023, but the BC Financial Services Authority’s chief hearing officer Andrew Pendray determined that it should nevertheless be cancelled as a signal to other licensees that “repetitive participation in deceptive schemes” will result in “significant” punishment.

He also ordered her to pay a $40,000 administrative penalty and $90,000 in enforcement expenses. Pendray explained his rationale for the penalties in a sanctions decision issued on May 17. The decision was published on the BCFSA website Wednesday.

Rohani’s misconduct occurred over a period of several years, and came in two distinct flavours, according to the decision.

Pendray found she had submitted mortgage applications for five different properties that she either owned or was purchasing, providing falsified income information on each one.

Each of these applications was submitted using a person referred to in the decision as “Individual 1” as a mortgage broker. Individual 1 was not a registered mortgage broker and – by the later applications – Rohani either knew or ought to have known this was the case, according to the decision.

All of that constituted “conduct unbecoming” under B.C.’s Real Estate Services Act, Pendray concluded.

Separately, Rohani also referred six clients to Individual 1 when she knew or ought to have known he wasn’t a registered mortgage broker, and she received or anticipated receiving a referral fee from Individual 1 for doing so, according to the decision. Rohani did not disclose this financial interest in the referrals to her clients.

Pendray found all of that to constitute professional misconduct under the act.

‘Deceptive’ scheme

The penalties the chief hearing officer chose to impose for this behaviour were less severe than those sought by the BCFSA in the case, but more significant than those Rohani argued she should face.

Rohani submitted that the appropriate penalty for her conduct would be a six-month licence suspension or a $15,000 discipline penalty, plus $20,000 in enforcement expenses.

For its part, the BCFSA asked Pendray to cancel Rohani’s licence and impose a $100,000 discipline penalty plus more than $116,000 in enforcement expenses.

Pendray’s ultimate decision to cancel the licence and impose penalties and expenses totalling $130,000 reflected his assessment of the severity of Rohani’s misconduct.

Unlike other cases referenced by the parties in their submissions, Rohani’s misconduct was not limited to a single transaction involving falsified documents or a series of such transactions during a brief period of time, according to the decision.

“Rather, in this case Ms. Rohani repetitively, over the course of a number of years, elected to personally participate in a deceptive mortgage application scheme for her own benefit, and subsequently, arranged for her clients to participate in the same deceptive mortgage application scheme,” the decision reads.

Pendray further noted that, although Rohani had been licensed for “a significant period of time,” she had only completed a small handful of transactions, according to records from her brokerage.

There were just six transactions on which her brokerage recorded earnings for her between December 2015 and February 2020, according to the decision. Of those six, four were transactions that were found to have involved misconduct or conduct unbecoming.

“In sum, Ms. Rohani’s minimal participation in the real estate industry as a licensee has, for the majority of that minimal participation, involved her engaging in conduct unbecoming involving deceptive practices and professional misconduct,” the decision reads.

According to the decision, Rohani must pay the $40,000 discipline penalty within 90 days of the date it was issued.

 

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Should you wait to buy or sell your home?

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The Bank of Canada is expected to announce its key interest rate decision in less than two weeks. Last month, the bank lowered its key interest rate to 4.7 per cent, marking its first rate cut since March 2020.

CTV Morning Live asked Jason Pilon, broker of Record Pilon Group, whether now is the right time to buy or sell your home.

When it comes to the next interest rate announcement, Pilon says the bank might either lower it further, or just keep it as is.

“The best case scenario we’re seeing is obviously a quarter point. I think more just because of the job numbers that just came out, I think more people are just leading on the fact that they probably just gonna do it in September,” he said. “Either way, what we saw in June, didn’t make a big difference.”

Here are the pros of buying/ selling now:

Pilon suggests locking in the rate right now, if you don’t want to take a risk with interest rates going up in the future.

He says the environment is more predictable right now, noting that the home values are transparent, which is one of the benefits for home sellers.

“Do you want to risk looking at what that looks like down the road? Or do you want to have the comfort in knowing what your house is worth right now?” Pilon said.

And when it comes to buyers, he notes, the competition is not so fierce right now, noting that there are options to choose from.

“You’re in the driver seat right now,” he said while noting the benefits for buyers.

Here are the cons of buying/ selling now:

He says one of the cons would be locking in the rate right now, then seeing a rate cut in the future.

The competition could potentially become fierce, if the bank decides to cut the rate further more, he explained.

He notes that if that happens, the housing crisis will become even worse, as Canada is still dealing with low housing inventory.

An increase in competition would increase the prices of houses, he adds.

Selling or buying too quickly isn’t the best practice, he notes, suggesting that you should take your time and put some thought into it.

Despite all the pros and cons, Pilon says, real estate remains a good investment.

According to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey for the second quarter of this year, the average home price in Canada is $824,300. That’s up 1.9 per cent from the same time last year, and up 1.5 per cent from the first quarter of 2024.

In the Ottawa Housing Market Report for June 2024, the average price of a home was up 2.4 per cent from this time last year to $686,535, but down 0.6 per cent from May 2024.

Experts believe many potential buyers are still hesitant of jumping into the housing market and waiting for another interest rate cut of 50 to 100 basis points.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the rush that we see in the past, because people are used to more of a conservative approach right now,” said Curtis Fillier, president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “I think there’s still a bit of a hold back, but I definitely do think with another rate cut, we’ll probably see a very positive fall market.”

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Kimberly Fowler

 

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Real estate stocks soar to best day of year on rate cut bets

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(Bloomberg) — The stock market’s worst group notched its best day of the year as a cooler-than-expected inflation report stoked bets that the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates in September.

Shares of real estate companies jumped 2.7% Thursday for their biggest gain of 2024, climbing to their highest level since March as investors snapped up homebuilder, digital and commercial real estate stocks alike. Real estate also was the best-performing group in the S&P 500 Index Thursday, with volume that was around 30% higher than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Arguably the most significant news to come from the latest consumer price index reading was a pullback in housing-related inflation. Shelter costs rose just 0.2% for the slowest monthly increase in three years. Homebuilders, which have risen 7.1% this year, were up 7.3% for the session, the most since 2022. Shares of D.R. Horton Inc., which is scheduled to report earnings next Thursday, gained 7.3%.

“Housing has really been the last shoe to drop in terms of winning the battle against high inflation,” Preston Caldwell, chief U.S. economist at Morningstar wrote in a note to clients Thursday. “Leading-edge data has strongly indicated for some time now that a fall in housing inflation was in the works.”

A rally in real estate stocks is bad news for short sellers who have been piling into the group, which is the worst performer in the S&P 500 this year. To start the week, short interest as a percentage of float hovered near 49% in the SPDR Homebuilders ETF, the highest level since February for the exchange-traded fund, according to data from S3 Partners.

Property owners are rallying as well. Real estate investment trusts, which were brutally penalized during the two-year run up in borrowing costs, advanced by as much as 3%. And the outlook for the group appears to have turned a corner, according Rich Hill, senior vice president and head of real estate strategy and research at Cohen & Steers Capital Management.

“We think this is a compelling backdrop for listed REITs especially as fundamental growth remains on solid footing,” he said, referencing the latest inflation data and rate outlook. “The rally that started in October of 2023 pushing returns more than 20% above their trough looks set to continue if inflation cools and interest rates continue to decline.”

Shares of industrial REIT Prologis Inc., which reports second-quarter results on Wednesday, rose 3.3% to hit their highest level since April. U.S. Treasury yields tumbled, with the 10-year bond falling to 4.2% and the policy-sensitive two-year note slipping to 4.5%.

(Updates indexes and stock prices for market close.)

 

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