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Woman who bought house 30 years older than advertised wants realtor disciplined

Last Updated Jan 25, 2020 at 9:27 am PST

Beyond learning her home was 40-years-old, not 10, Cynthia Chen says there was also a crack in the foundation. (Submitted Photo)

A woman who bought a Burnaby house that was 30 years older than advertised says realtors have ruined her life

The Real Estate Council has issued a letter of advisement to realtor Genie Lam

The council has acknowledged to the buyer that the realtor could have learned the age of the house

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — A woman who bought a Burnaby house she was told was 10-years-old but actually had been built in 1976, is pushing for her realtor to receive some kind of punishment.

The Real Estate Council of British Columbia has issued a letter of advisement to realtor Genie Lam, and has acknowledged to the buyer Cynthia Chen that Lam could have learned the age of the house by contacting BC Assessment or the city in 2016, at the time of the purchase.

But Chen says that isn’t enough, and wants the real estate council to discipline Lam.

“I’d like to share my experience to the public,” Chen says. “From my experience, I really have no faith. I cannot trust a realtor.”
Chen is also taking Lam to court in an attempt to get compensation.

In a tight real estate market at that time in 2016, Chen claims she was advised that requiring a home inspection, or any conditions at all, would mean no offer she put forward for a house would be accepted. This claim has not been proven in court.

She’s urging anyone considering buying a home to get a home inspection, no matter what a realtor tells you.

“We’re not a professional trained buyer,” Chen says. “This is why we hired a realtor, and we paid almost $60,000 commission fee.”

Beyond learning the home was 40 years old, not 10, Chen says there was also a crack in the foundation.

NEWS 1130 tried to get a comment from Lam by contacting her at her current real estate firm, Jovi.

Christopher Hughes, Jovi’s managing broker, suggested to a reporter that NEWS 1130 was “fishing for a story,” offering no further comment.

The listing agent, realtor Steven Oei, has been disciplined by the Real Estate Council. He was ordered to pay $6,500 for misrepresenting the age of the home.

Nevertheless, the Real Estate Council is now taking another look at Lam’s conduct.

“RECBC’s investigation in this matter resulted in formal discipline by way of a Consent Order, against the agent who represented the seller in the transaction and the issuing of a Letter of Advisement to the buyer’s agent,” says Real Estate Council chief executive Erin Seeley.

“Letters of Advisement are issued in circumstances where, although there has not been a determination of professional misconduct, the conduct requires comment by the regulator in the form of guidance for best practices. In response to requests from the complainant, RECBC will be conducting a further review of the matter over the coming weeks.”

Chen says she first filed a complaint with the Real Estate Council in April 2017, and it was only in November 2019 that the council notified her of Lam’s letter of advisement.

Between the lack of punishment for her realtor and the time in which it took the council to even issue that letter, Chen says her faith in realtors and their regulatory body has been shattered.

“My mistake is that I trusted the realtor,” Chen says.

“People may challenge me; it’s my fault to remove the home inspection. Yes, I admit it’s my fault. But what did my realtor do? At least she should give me a warning, [contact BC Assessment] or call the city. This is a different way to find out the real age of the house. Not only the home inspection.”