Realtor suspended over association with Chinese website
A Richmond real estate agent has been suspended for a year for paying more than $200,000 for referrals on 17 house sales which came to him from a Chinese website dedicated to pushing B.C. real estate.
According to a consent order posted by the Real Estate Council of B.C., Xiao Ming (Alban) Wang did not tell purchasers who used the website he was remitting 90 per cent of his commissions in exchange for their business.
Wang's name was not on the site. He has been disciplined for paying referral fees to an unlicensed brokerage without disclosing the fact to clients.
'He agreed ... because it was easy'
The identity of the website and its owners are blanked out in the disciplinary documents, but the name Vanfun.com appears unredacted at one point.
Vanfun.com came under scrutiny earlier this year for appearing to post new properties for sale in Shanghai before they became available to customers in the Lower Mainland.
According to the consent order, the website Wang dealt with is headquartered in China, but the woman who launched it has a home in Richmond and has previously been a director of a B.C.-incorporated company.
Wang told the council he was approached by a former client in September 2012, who said a friend called FN was in search of a Realtor. Wang met with the woman a few days later.
She told him she was going to launch a website displaying comprehensive housing data and information about schools, prices, numbers of days on the market and historical records of transactions.
"Wang stated FN told him she would introduce him to customers, almost all of whom had determined which properties they wanted to purchase," the consent order reads.
In exchange for 90 per cent of his commission, Wang was required to arrange showings, draft contracts for purchase and sale and present offers.
"Wang stated that he agreed to the arrangement because it was easy," the consent order says.
"Wang also stated that his name never appeared on any advertising for Vanfun.com, and he was never issued with any business cards."
Between November 2012 and July 2013, Wang said he completed 17 property transactions on homes in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Coquitlam, Port Moody, West Vancouver and White Rock.
He told the council he paid a total of $208,881 out of his commissions.
Wang was previously disciplined by the real estate council in 2012 for collecting deposits and waiting as long as 67 days to hand them over to a brokerage. The council identified 12 transaction and a total of $785,000 worth of deposits in that case. Wang was suspended for 14 days and ordered to pay $1,000.
The latest disciplinary measures also include a fine of $10,000, the maximum the council can levy.
In a separate matter, Wang is being sued by a pair of brothers who claim he was operating a "real estate scam" in Richmond aimed at convincing owners to sell their houses for the purposes of "shadow-flipping".
The B.C. Supreme Court claim alleges the plaintiffs sold their home after receiving a pamphlet from someone named 'Sunny' who was interested in purchasing their property.
The brothers claimed they met with 'Sunny' and Wang, with whom they signed a limited dual agency agreement. The court claim says the sales contract contained an addendum allowing the buyer the right to assign the contract.
After selling the house, the brothers claim they learned the "property had been relisted for sale, presumably under the assignment clause as a shadow flip."
In their response, Wang and the real estate firm named in the suit deny "being a party to any conspiracy or scam."
They claim the brothers had done their own research and knew the market value of the property. The response says Wang and the firm had no knowledge 'Sunny' intended to assign the contract to another buyer.
Wang claims he first learned about the move to assign the contract several weeks after the contract was executed.
The response also notes the brothers agreed to the addendum explicitly providing the buyer the right to assign the contract.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Wang declined to comment on the real estate council's current order.