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Real estate regulator will co-operate with police in wake of sexual assault allegations – Times Colonist



The regulatory agency that oversees the B.C. real estate market says it will co-operate with law enforcement if an investigation is launched into allegations of sexual assault by three Victoria-area real estate agents.

In a statement late Monday, the Real Estate Council of B.C., which regulates and enforces the conduct of agents, said it was deeply concerned by allegations levelled at three Victoria men and commended the courage of the individuals who came forward to tell their stories.

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“RECBC’s position is clear: any act of sexual abuse, misconduct or violence by a real estate professional towards a member of the public, a client, or a colleague is unacceptable,” the statement said.

The organization said it has the power to investigate and discipline real estate professionals for conduct that undermines public confidence in the real estate industry or that brings the real estate industry into ­disrepute.

Penalties can include fines or cancellation of a real estate licence.

“All real estate professionals are expected to act with integrity, honesty, and professionalism,” it said.

Last week, two agents at The Agency Victoria were fired after three women made detailed ­allegations on the Vancouver Island Instagram account ­­ @survivorstoriesprojects.

A third agent, who worked at Engel & Volkers Vancouver Island, was dismissed over the weekend after a woman posted allegations saying she had been drugged and sexually assaulted by a real estate agent after a party in Oak Bay in October 2019. The woman said she went to hospital for a forensic examination and made a formal complaint to police, but the investigation “went nowhere.”

Saanich police, which investigates major crimes in Oak Bay, could not confirm whether they investigated or are investigating the allegations.

“We are only able to confirm an investigation is ongoing if there is an investigative purpose or if there is a risk to public safety,” said Const. Markus Anastasiades. “We also have a duty to protect everyone’s rights that may be involved in police investigations, as is upheld in the charter and in privacy laws in Canada.

“We must also be aware of information shared that could compromise any ongoing investigation.”

James LeBlanc, co-owner at Engel & Volkers, said the allegations are “disturbing and deeply concerning for all of us in the real estate industry.”

Leblanc said the company supports the survivors who have come forward and is committed to working with the community to make it clear that sexual harassment and assault have no place in society.

Engel & Volkers co-owner Scott Piercy said the four listings being handled by the agent were transferred back to the brokerage on Monday and will be handled by himself and ­Leblanc.

The agent’s licence has been returned to the Real Estate Council of B.C.

Piercy said the allegations have hurt the business and the industry, and he pointed out the brokerage requires all of its agents to abide by “an internal code of conduct, stringent ­reputational standards and maintain the highest ethical principles.”

“The last few days have been very difficult for all of us. As a company, we have held sexual harassment counselling sessions, trauma support and sensitivity training for our entire team. Those supports and resources will continue,” he said, adding the brokerage contributed $10,000 to an online fundraising campaign for the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre.

“This is our community and we are committed to education and action to speak out against sexualized violence and ­harassment.”

Both the Victoria Real Estate Board and the B.C. Real Estate Association issued statements Monday saying they were disturbed by the allegations and pledged support for the victims of the sexual assaults.

“Above all, our thoughts are with the individuals who have had the courage to share their experiences,” said VREB president David Langlois.

“We as a community need to do better — we as an ­organization are committed to finding ways where we can contribute to positive change,” Langlois said.

The BCREA also acknowledged the courage of those who have come forward, adding: “Sexual assault has no place in society.”

The Real Estate Council of B.C. has an anonymous tip line to report misconduct by a real estate professional. Call 1-833-404-0647 or go online to ­

— With a file from Louise Dickson

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Real Estate Tech Company Localize Raises $25M To Improve House Hunting – NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News



Israeli-founded real estate tech company Localize raised a $25 million Series C financing round led by Pitango Growth, with additional participation from Mizrahi-Tefahot and existing investors, the firm announced on Wednesday. The investment brings Localize’s total funding to date to $70 million.

Founded in 2012, Localize built a real estate market platform for buyers and agents powered by an AI-based insight engine that analyzes billions of data points on properties and neighborhoods. This creates “hundreds of selectable attributes, including proximity to popular stores – for example, Trader Joe’s, future construction, high ceilings, building violations, complaints and pests, and a proprietary natural light insight,” the company explains.

Homebuyers can easily tailor their searches with these attributes through a homebuying advisor called Hunter, the company’s hybrid human-AI concierge service. The company’s main mission is to make homebuying easier, more tailored, and more effective. It currently operates solely across New York, where the company has been based since 2018.

“The homebuying process is complex and the real estate industry as a whole has been slow to embrace technological change to address these issues. Most of the data available in the market today is too fragmented for buyers to effectively use,” said Omer Granot, President and COO of Localize, in a company statement. “We have developed products that are shifting the paradigm to empower prospective buyers and brokers to really fill in those information gaps and receive the assistance they need throughout the entire process, making us a partner from their initial search to receiving keys in hand for their new home.”

Localize is led by founder and CEO Asaf Rubin, previously with Taboola, Granot, who previously served as New York general manager and global VP of Growth for the Israeli-founded ride-sharing giant Via, and Ilan Fraiman who serves as CTO.

The company said in a statement that the newly raised funds will be directed toward further development of Localize’s existing services, R&D, sales and marketing operations, and the creation of complementary services to support the Localize ecosystem.

As part of the agreement, Chemi Peres, managing partner and co-founder of Pitango, will join Localize’s board of directors.

“Buying a home is one of the most important financial and life decisions many people make,” said Peres. “Localize enables people to find and buy the house of their dreams in a short time, using the advanced AI tools it developed. The ability to use tools that automate and digitalize this process, combined with insights that are produced using algorithms which run on massive amounts of data, makes the results quick, accurate, and fully fitted to the client’s needs.”

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Real estate agents can learn benefits of living shorelines | Coastal Review – Coastal Review Online



Oyster bag living shorelines effectively stabilize eroding shorelines and also preserve the coastal environment. Photo: Restoration Systems, LLC.

Real estate professionals are encouraged to join next month a workshop on the benefits of living shorelines for waterfront properties.

The free, online workshop is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 2 via Webex. Organizers ask attendees join 15 minutes early to confirm their real estate license number. Registration before the event is required. The agenda is online.

Organizers plan to share the benefits and limitations of using living shorelines for erosion control, different shoreline stabilization techniques, including living shorelines, living shoreline permitting process; using marsh plants and oyster shell to prevent erosion; and living shoreline projects in North Carolina. 

Real estate professionals will receive four elective continuing education credits from the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.

Prior to the workshop, organizers ask attendees review the Virtual Workshop Best Practices.

The workshop is being presented by the state Department of Environmental Quality, North Carolina Coastal Federation and North Carolina Sea grant.

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Tight real estate inventory and lower sales in the capital region in July – Times Colonist



A shrinking number of properties for sale in Greater Victoria is translating into fewer sales, despite strong demand.

“The real estate story right now continues to be inventory,” David Langlois, president of the Victoria Real Estate Board, said Tuesday as July sales statistics were released.

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At the end of July, there were just 1,270 listings — down by 52.1 per cent from the 2,653 properties on the market at the same time a year ago.

Inventory dropped by 7.6 per cent, or 1,375 listings, last month from the previous month.

“The market is driven by inventory and fewer home listings lead to fewer home sales,” Langlois said. “In that context, these numbers do not reflect a downturn in our market but reveal sales falling due to this continued trend of low inventory.”

A total of 835 properties sold last month, down by 14.7 per cent from the 979 sales in July 2020, the board’s report said.

Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president for RE/MAX western Canada, said the real estate market is returning to normal patterns, as sale are typically lower in July and August after a stronger spring.

He predicts inventories will rise in the capital region because that’s what happening in major markets across the country. “We are seeing inventory levels starting to increase. I’m confident we will see it higher in Victoria as well.”

Prices in the capital region have remained strong so far this year.

The benchmark price for a single-family home in the core was $1.082 million in July, up by 1.7 per cent from June.

A year ago, that benchmark was at $909,900.

Benchmark refers to the value of a home in a particular area over time, a method the real estate industry says more accurately reflects the market than average prices.

In May, the benchmark price for a single-family house in the core topped $1 million for the first time, although the average price had surpassed $1 million previously. The core consists of Victoria, Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Saanich and View Royal.

For many people, a single-family house in the core area is financially out of reach, a factor driving condominium construction and sales. Condos are typically less costly than a single-family house.

The benchmark value for a condominium in the core in July was $535,100, an 8.1 per cent increase from $494,900 in July 2020, the board said.

Langlois said it’s important for the long-term health of the housing market that the region maintains a “strong focus” on developing new homes to meet growing demand.

For the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, north of the Malahat, where inventory is also tight, 450 single-family homes were sold, down 15 per cent from 531 in June. In the condo apartment category, sales dropped by seven per cent from June. However, row/townhouse sales rose by 29 per cent from the previous month.

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