Dishonest realtor's punishment questioned by victim
Published Tuesday, May 28, 2013 6:00AM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 28, 2013 8:06PM PDT
A Vancouver woman is raising concerns about how dishonest realtors are dealt with in B.C., after her realtor was caught altering documents in an attempt to avoid a reduced commission on a condominium.
Janet MacKenzie's real estate nightmare began in December 2011. Her realtor, Marco Vincenzi of Sutton Group - West Coast Realty was trying to make a deal behind her back so he could avoid accepting a reduced commission on a Yaletown condo MacKenzie wanted to buy.
"He caused me an incredible amount of stress and hardship in trying to find a home after what he did to me," she said.
After MacKenzie complained, Vincenzi admitted wrongdoing and agreed to what's called a consent order with the Real Estate Council of BC.
Sixteen months later, the council handed down its verdict. It found Vincenzi had committed professional misconduct and ordered him to pay $1,250, take a remedial course and he was given a 120 day suspension.
"A year and four months later to get to a four-month suspension seems like kind of a joke to me, especially for such serious misdeeds," said MacKenzie.
Vincenzi told the Real Estate Council he was in the running for a platinum award given to realtors who secure $100,000 in commissions for the year. The council's ruling says, "at the time of the transaction he had earned approximately $90,000 and he states that there was a lot of pressure of him to put him over the $100,000 threshold."
Vincenzi also told the council he was facing "a great deal of financial pressure" because of his upcoming wedding.
"The idea of saying, ‘well, because I was under financial pressure, that's okay, somehow makes this okay,’ it doesn't. It's not acceptable. Knowing right from wrong is kind of a basic principle," said MacKenzie.
Maureen Coleman, compliance manager with the Real Estate Council of BC, says altering documents is not something that's taken lightly.
"We consider that very seriously. I mean that is not something that would in any way be excused," said Coleman.
But according to the council’s website, several realtors involved in similar cases were suspended for only a matter of weeks - a punishment some people, like MacKenzie, feel is not harsh enough.
"For complainants, their individual complaint is of course of huge importance and impact to them, and I think all of us, when we feel that we have been wronged, we want the harshest action to be taken," said Coleman.
Marco Vincenzi ignored CTV’s repeated requests for an interview, but he did say in his consent order that his actions were "extremely unusual behavior" for him and a "marked departure" from his ordinary sound practice.
Vincenzi’s suspension doesn’t kick in until June and it appears the Metro Vancouver realtor is still in business, accepting calls on a current listing from a CTV intern posing as a potential customer.
Consumer reporter Lynda Steele went to Sutton Realty in Coquitlam to see what Vincenzi's boss, Jason Watson, had to say about his employee's professional misconduct, but she was told Watson was in a meeting and not available.
The council says the Superintendent of Real Estate has a month to appeal the Vincenzi decision so that's why the suspension doesn't kick in until June, a full 18 months after the questionable deal.
For part 3 of this story, watch CTV News at Six on Wednesday.