Updated by Mike Stewart Realtor on June 13, 2023
What is the Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services Document?
The Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services (DORTS) is a document part of the June 15, 2018 changes to the Real Estate Services Act in British Columbia and a partial replacement of the previous Working with a Realtor form.
The basic idea behind DORTS is to inform a client of a Realtor — both sellers and buyers — what their rights are in the relationship, and the duties and responsibilities the Realtor owes to their client.
You have a choice of representation when working with a Realtor in BC
When working with a Realtor in British Columbia there are two relationships you can enter according to BCFSA:
- A Client Relationship
- a Non-Client Relationship or Unrepresented Party
The Benefits of Representation in Client Relationship with a Realtor
When considering a real estate transaction, consumers must decide if they wish to be a client of a licensed Realtor or act independently as an unrepresented Party.
When choosing a licensed real estate professional to represent you as their client in an agency relationship, you can expect:
- Expert advice: licensed BC Realtors receive specialized training.
- Experience: Realtors do real estate transactions day in and day out and can help a buyer or seller transact in a cost effective and low risk manner.
- Protection: Licensed BC Realtors are regulated by the provincial Real Estate Services Act which aims to protect the rights of consumers.
- Oversight: the BC Financial Services Authority works to ensure BC Realtors are competent and knowledgeable. They can investigate and discipline individuals for professional misconduct.
What to Expect as a Client
Unlike an Unrepresented Party, as a client of a real estate professional, a BC Realtor owe their clients special legal the following special legal duties:
- Loyalty: The realtor must act in the client’s best interests, putting the clients interests and needs above all else.
- Avoid conflicts of interest: The realtor must avoid any situation that would affect their duty to act in the best interests of the client.
- Full disclosure: The realtor must provide the client with all known information that might influence their decisions.
- Confidentiality: The realtor must keep all information confidential, even after the relationship ends.
- Competent service: The realtor must provide competent service and not engage in any activity that they are not trained for. An example of this would be when your Realtor declines to give advice on on taxation or legal questions that are beyond the scope of their licensing and refers you to an accountant or a lawyer.
Your Options as a Client
In BC, licensed Realtors provide their services through companies known as “brokerages”. For example, my brokerage is Oakwyn Realty.
When you become a client of a Realtor, the agreement that you sign is with their Brokerage.
Depending on the Brokerage you choose, you will be represented in one of two ways:
- Brokerage Agency: all Realtors employed by the firm represent you. All are bound by the same legal duties described above.
- Designated Agent: Only your chosen Realtor represents you. They cannot share your confidential information with other Brokerage agents without your permission.
The vast majority of agency relationships are with a Designated Agent and Brokerage Agency is very rare.
What to expect as a Non-Client
A licensed Realtor who is not representing you is held to a higher standard of behaviour when acting in a professional capacity with both clients and non-clients.
When representing clients the standard of behaviour and their duties are far higher than when working with non-clients.
If you choose not enter into an agency relationship the Realtor, that Realtor still has to be honest, ethical and professional. But do keep in mind, the Realtor you are dealing with as a non-client has a duty to represent the interests of their clients and not the interests a non-client (you).
If you decide to transact with a Realtor in BC, but not have them represent you as a client, you expect the following:
A real estate professional who is not representing you as a client does not owe you special legal duties:
• No Loyalty – They may be representing a client with competing interests to yours in a transaction. They must be loyal to their client, not you.
• No duty of full disclosure – They do not have a duty to give you all relevant information.
• No duty to avoid conflicts – They are not acting in your interests.
• No confidentiality – They must share any information you tell them with their clients in a transaction.
As a non-client, a Realtor can only give you limited services.
Before receiving advice from a BC Realtor, they must provide you with the DORTS form and explain it. This not only applies to residential properties, it must also be supplied to those working with a real estate professional to rent or lease property and for commercial real estate transactions.
Once you have reviewed the DORTS document, you have the option of signing the form to confirm that you received this consumer protection information.
To reiterate, It is not required for clients and non-clients to sign the Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services document.
That said, the Realtor is required to sign the Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services and submit it to their Brokerage. If, after reading the DORTS document, you decide that you do not need a Realtor to represent you, they may be required to present you with the Disclosure of Risks to Unrepresented Parties form.
Why do we have DORTS and not Working with a Realtor (WWR)?
Before we had Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services, we had the Working with a Realtor (WWR) document which fulfilled a similar purpose and was provided by the British Columbia Real Estate Council. The June 2018 changes replaced WWR with the DORTS and some other documents (Privacy Notice and Consent) and was in part the ending of Realtors being able to self-regulate.
The real estate industry regulated itself prior to 2021 with the Real Estate Council that was subsequently amalgamated into the BCFSA which is controlled by the provincial government.
There are several reasons for the 2018 changes on how Realtors are regulated in BC.
Prior to the the 2018 updates to how Realtors are regulated in BC, there were some high-profile cases of Realtors partaking in unethical activities and a perception they were not punished severely enough. We also saw prices for real estate in Vancouver increase very quickly (see below).
There is some speculation that the changes to the Real Estate Services Act and the ending of self regulation of the real estate industry were the result of the BC government and media blaming the real estate industry over rapidly rising real estate prices in the Vancouver area and across British Columbia.
It turns out Realtors and the real estate industry were not to blame for rising real estate prices as the regulatory changes brought in did nothing to slow prices. As of 2023, the conversation has changed so that even elected officials and political parties historically skeptical of the real estate industry’s argument that increased supply is the answer to controlling housing prices are using legislative powers push cities to build more housing.
Now blame for high housing prices in Canada seems to be on REITS, when the real cause of housing affordability is huge demand caused by population growth coupled with chronically inadequate new housing supply.