Real Estate Council of Alberta Urges Vigilance during Economic Downturn
Calgary, Alberta - As Alberta's economic situation remains uncertain, the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) urges consumers facing foreclosure or who have a mortgage in arrears to be wary of individuals offering solutions that seem too good to be true.
The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is the licensing and regulatory body for Alberta’s 15,000 real estate, mortgage brokerage, property management and real estate appraisal professionals. Consumers are at a significant risk when working with an unlicensed individual in a real estate or mortgage transaction. Often times it is unlicensed individuals operating foreclosure scams.
“Our concern is that consumers facing foreclosure will look for any help they can get,” says Charles Stevenson, Director of Professional Standards at RECA. “Fraudsters will promise to stop the foreclosure and keep you in your home. Unfortunately, instead of being rescued, fraudsters take your money, and you end up further in debt and possibly homeless.
“As a first step, consumers should always check if the person approaching them with an offer of help is a licensed real estate or mortgage professional,” Stevenson adds.
At the same time as RECA is reminding consumers to be vigilant, it is continuing its battle against unlicensed fraudsters who prey on Albertans.
In recent years, RECA has taken significant action against unlicensed real estate and mortgage brokerage activity. One such example is RECA’s enforcement action against Derek Johnson. Derek Johnson says he is helping people. He is not. He preys on home owners who are in a vulnerable financial position and facing foreclosure.
RECA fined Derek Johnson a total of $65,000 for unlicensed real estate and mortgage brokerage activity. When Mr. Johnson did not stop his unlicensed activities, in December 2014, RECA obtained a Court of Queen’s Bench injunction against him, ordering him to cease and desist trading in real estate and dealing in mortgages without a licence.
RECA continues to receive reports from consumers who believe Mr. Johnson’s unlicensed activities are continuing. As a result of those reports and its own investigation work, RECA has applied to the Court to have Mr. Johnson and his associates found in contempt of the December 2014 court order. That application is scheduled to be heard on April 20, 2016.
RECA sets and enforces high standards of ethical, professional behaviour for licensed real estate and mortgage professionals, and takes enforcement action against unlicensed individuals acting as real estate and mortgage professionals. Particularly in this economic climate, make sure individuals helping you with your housing needs are licensed by RECA by using the Search for an Industry Professional function on RECA’s website at www.reca.ca. The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is an independent, non-government agency, responsible for governing real estate, mortgage broker, property management, and real estate appraisal industry professionals under Alberta’s Real Estate Act. RECA’s mandate is to protect consumers and to provide services that enhance and improve the industry and the business of industry professionals.