B.C. financial regulator advises three-day ‘cooling-off’ period for homebuyers

VANCOUVER — The regulator for British Columbia's real estate sector has recommended that the province adopt a so-called "cooling-off" period of three business days to protect people buying a home, through legislation tabled this spring.

A report from the B.C. Financial Services Authority says buyers should not be allowed to waive the period in which they would be allowed to back out of a purchase agreement, with exceptions such as court-ordered sales or auctions. 

The report released Thursday advises that sellers be required to provide reasonable access for a property inspection during the three-day homebuyer protection period, which would start the day after an offer is accepted.

Other recommendations include a five-day "pre-offer" period after a property is listed, when a seller may not accept any offers, as well as a "modest" termination fee of 0.1 to 0.5 per cent of the price of a home to be paid by buyers who pull out of a deal.

The B.C. government introduced amendments to property legislation in March and Finance Minister Selina Robinson tasked the independent regulator with consulting real estate industry stakeholders on the parameters of a cooling-off period and other potential measures.

Robinson says the province is reviewing the report and her aim is to move "relatively quickly" with the bill that passed its third reading last month, but the real estate industry also needs time to adjust and adapt to the changes.

Blair Morrison, CEO of the B.C. Financial Services Authority, told a news conference there would be "adjustments" to the current real estate transaction process to bring the homebuyer protection period into force.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

The Canadian Press