In what will surely become a landmark move, the Québec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB) has filed an application for authorization to institute a class action suit against a major for-sale-by-owner player in the province.
The proposed lawsuit accuses for sale by owner (FSBO) company DuProprio of “systematically engaging in deceptive advertising campaigns for years, misleading Québec consumers about the so-called savings associated with DuProprio’s services, and about the supposed advantages of its real estate services compared to those of brokers,” the QFREB said in a press release this morning.
The board conglomerate, which represents the province’s 12 real estate boards and 13,000 real estate professionals, says DuProprio explicitly promises its clients they’ll incur less financial strain by using its services as opposed to paying a real estate agent’s commission. The QFREB says that statement fails to consider the various real estate commission structures available to buyers and sellers.
Further, the QFREB asserts DuProprio slanders the industry by claiming agents do not protect consumers from the perils of purchasing real estate. Again, the FSBO company fails to consider the insurance programs offered by many brokerages for the purpose of consumer protection, the federation argues.
“In Québec, the legislator has ruled that real estate brokers should have received professional training and hold a licence issued by the OACIQ,” says Éric Vallières, a lawyer with McMillian, the Montreal firm representing the QFREB. “They are also subject to strict requirements and high standards of service.”
The fight against FSBO models is prevalent across the country, leading to advertising campaigns on both sides of the argument. Agents in the REP forum, however, have been pushing back against companies like DuProprio and Property Guys, arguing an agent’s services go well beyond an MLS post.
“If you get an experienced agent who knows how to negotiate, who spends money on advertising, who can do the open houses, who ensures they have a legitimate buyer, then you’re way better off than selling by owner,” Janette Graf-King, a real estate agent with Re/Max, says. “You get what you pay for.”