Legislation: Put that offer in writing

Ontario's minister of consumer services is now looking at legislation that would formally require real estate agents to have all offers for a property in writing -- including all terms, among them dollar amounts.

The seller's Realtor would also have that documentation to present to bidders -- both winners and losers -- after a sales agreement is struck.

While sales in Ontario have fallen by more than 10 per cent from their year-ago period, investors continue to face what they're told are multiple-bid situations. Any move to back up that boast is welcome, say investors, especially those bidding on small multifamily properties across the province.

In some cases, their supposed competitors have submitted deals verbally and without the paperwork that would bind them. It means that investors are often encouraged to bid above asking, jeopardizing the cash flow potential of the property.

Still, there are protections already in place, argue real estate agents, pointing to regulatory requirements around the disclosure of precise bidder numbers.

But that may not go far enough, say supporters of the proposed legislation. They point to that loophole of sorts the minister is now trying to close by forcing all offers onto paper.

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