Charging for Charity Image

Charging for Charity


A luxury house-for-sale in Toronto is in the news thanks to the listing industry professional charging $50 for a viewing. Now, before you spill your coffee in shock, you should know that the $50 is a charitable donation to the SickKids Foundation of Toronto.
The idea was conceived by the listing industry professional at the request of the seller to help keep gawkers and looky-loos away from this $5 million property. All of the attention the tactic has garnered has certainly gotten the attention of buyers who wouldn’t necessarily have known it was for sale. So really, it’s a win for everyone involved. Potential buyers have said they applaud the idea – after all, what’s $50 to someone looking to buy a $5-million property?

RECA’s counterpart in Ontario, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), has stated there is nothing wrong with the tactic, provided it is not misleading in any way and has the seller’s permission. RECA agrees with RECO’s stance, but Alberta industry professionals who may be interested in trying something similar need to make sure they don’t run astray of the legislation.

  • Make sure you proceed only at the seller’s direction. The seller needs to know that although this tactic may keep gawkers away, it may also turn off certain buyers.
  • Make sure the money goes directly to the charity and not first into your brokerage trust account or your personal account. A good way to avoid this is for people to make their cheque out to the charity you’ve chosen.
  • Be up front with the requirement. Any advertisements for your listing should prominently mention this viewing requirement, so no one is surprised by it at the door.
  • Run it by your broker. Brokers need to review and approve all industry professional’s advertising since it’s done on behalf of the brokerage. Run any marketing ideas by your broker and get their support before proceeding. If your broker is unsure whether something is acceptable, he or she can contact the RECA Real Estate Practice Advisor for advice.
  • Make a courtesy call to the charity you have in mind, informing them of your intention.

RECA supports industry professionals’ innovation and efforts to stand out – but only if that innovation doesn’t fall outside of the Rules.