A Vancouver realtor who committed professional misconduct during the sale of a house on Mathers Avenue in West Vancouver has been fined $6,500 and ordered to take a remedial education course in real estate buying and selling.
Xiao Hong (Cathy) Liu and her company Cathy Liu Personal Real Estate Corporation agreed to the measures after the Liu admitted that during the sale of a house in 2014 that she had failed to take steps to avoid a conflict of interest while acting for both the buyer and the seller in the deal.
Liu was also found to not have acted with “reasonable care and attention” when she responded to a buyer’s question about an easement on the property and failed to include information about an existing tenant in the sale contract.
According to information in Real Estate Council documents, Liu was already representing the seller of the house on Mathers Avenue in November 2014 when a potential buyer contacted her about making an offer. He told her he intended to build a new house on the property.
A week later, the buyer sent a WeChat message to Liu, asking her to prepare a subject-free offer on the property, providing there was no oil tank on the property and that title was free of any easements and could complete by Jan. 15, 2015.
Because Liu had acknowledged she was already representing the seller of the property, she was not allowed to suggest a price to the buyer or negotiate on the buyer’s behalf.
But on Dec. 10, Liu sent the buyer a WeChat message telling him the seller had received another, higher offer on the property. “Now the only thing (holding) us moving forward, of course is the price . . . , the seller won’t accept it, hope you can come up a better price, so when (weighing) on (the) two offers I can be on your side to help,” she wrote.
Because the other offer had a number of “subject” clauses, the seller was still interested in negotiating, according to the Real Estate Council documents.
Four days later, according to council documents, Liu sent the prospective buyer more messages in WeChat, telling him the difference in the offer was now $22,000.
A few days later, she sent more messages, which read, translated from Chinese, “I think you’re a very intelligent and very mature buyer, very familiar with the West Vancouver real estate market” and questioning how he could be prepared to miss buying the house. “I’ve tried my best to negotiate with the seller to take another $11K off and there’s another $2,000 discount if you can assume the mortgage. I hope that you consider the pros and cons. Do not miss it just because of a minor factor.”
In another message she wrote, “Compared to those sold and the listings still on the market, this lot is big and has an ocean view . . . You can see the Lions Gate Bridge if you build a two storey new house. Don’t you understand?”
The same day, the buyer made an offer, subject-free, provided there was no oil tank on the property.
The next day, according to council documents, the buyer sent Liu a WeChat message asking if there was an easement on the property.
“Title is very clean. No oil tank. Have certificate, very simple and straightforward,” she replied.
Two months later, the buyer’s lawyer provided him a title to the property and advised him there was a restrictive covenant limiting the height of any structure on the property to 21 feet.
On March 9, 2015, the buyer chose not to complete the deal. A subsequent civil lawsuit was later settled, according to council documents.
Liu later acknowledged that she had been in a conflict of interest when advising the buyer about the property and that her statement “title is very clean” was inaccurate.
Liu also later acknowledged there was a tenant of the property, whose status should have been addressed in the contract.