BC HOME GROUP | SHIRIN PUREWAL | VICTORIA REAL ESTATE | info@bchomegroup.ca1-778-401-9545

Great Article, as a realtor I value information like this (especially on Misrepresentation)

Puffery or misrepresentation?

By Oana Hyatt, Staff Lawyer

How far can a licensee go in describing the features of a property when marketing it for sale? Do phrases such as “well-designed,” “ready to build,” “state-of-the-art,” “great water supply,” “spectacular,” “well-built,” “newer,” “updated,” “gorgeous,” “high-quality” or “in perfect condition” constitute mere puffery, or do they amount to actionable representations? If the latter, will the inclusion of the general disclaimer commonly found at the bottom of MLS listings relieve licensees from liability?

It depends, but caution is advisable. Section 4-7 of the Real Estate Council Rules requires a licensee not to publish any advertising which the licensee knows to contain a false statement or misrepresentation concerning the property. No disclaimer will relieve a licensee from liability if that licensee knows the statement they are making about the property is false.

The phrases quoted above form a spectrum ranging from:

  • statements or opinions as to quality which are mere puffery (such as “gorgeous,” “spectacular”) to;
  • statements as to quality intertwined with statements of fact, or statements including quantitative details (such as “ready to build,” “great water supply,” “in perfect condition”), which may be found to be representations.

Liability for negligent or even fraudulent misrepresentation may well result if the court finds there were red flags such that the licensee had reason to doubt the statement made, and to make further inquiries, but he or she did not do so.

In a 1998 case, a judge of the Supreme Court of BC found that the sellers fraudulently misrepresented the condition of the property by saying in the MLS listing that it was in “perfect condition,” and that this description was not mere puffery. The sellers’ failure to disclose known issues with water/sewage ingress and rot in the basement walls, which constituted a material latent defect, resulted in a finding of liability against the sellers. Interestingly, the judge did not find the listing agent liable as the agent did not have a duty to inspect nor any reason to disbelieve the sellers.

Statements as to quality can also be made by buyers’ agents and can also result in liability. In a more recent Small Claims Court case, the buyers’ agent’s statements to the buyers were found to be more than mere puffery, constituting representations upon which the buyers relied, to their detriment. 

The buyers alleged that they had been misled as to the safety of the septic system (which diverted the grey water discharge away from the septic tank/field and into the garden) based on their discovery, some two years later, that the Regional District considered such method of grey water discharge a health hazard which could not continue.

The judge found that the buyers’ agent had told the buyers that grey water discharge into the garden was common in the area and was nothing to worry about, despite there being visible spaghetti noodles on the ground; and that the septic inspection company they had hired was notorious for inspecting and quickly failing septic systems. The judge accepted that the licensee was being honest in making representations and found that the buyers ultimately relied on septic experts.

However, the judge did note that she was troubled by the licensee’s “easy representation” in the circumstances but dismissed the claim against him on the basis that the buyers had not established that the licensee had fallen below the standard of care applicable in the circumstances.

While marketing language often includes superlative terms about the quality or features of a property, licensees must be careful not to make statements of fact without a reasonable basis to believe such statements are true and not misleading.


Case references:

Betker v. Williams (1991), 63 B.C.L.R. (2d) 14 (C.A.)
Edwards v. Crocker, 1998 CanLII 6309 (B.C.S.C.)
Pacific Playground Holdings Ltd. v. Endeavour Developments Ltd., 2002 BCSC 126
Wagner v. Maloney, 2018 BCPC 107

Read full post
Categories:   1029 view st | 1061 Fort St | 1188 Yates | 128 Amphion Terrace | 2018 | 2018 MLS Statistics Victoria | 2417 Beacon Avenue | 3010 washington Ave | 439 cook st | 515 Chatham | 751 fairfield rd | 760 johnson st | 881 short st | 881 uptown | 930 yates | abstract | abstract development | accountant | acreage | affordable homes | agreement of purchase | air bnb | approach seller direction | April statistics | astoria | bare trustee | bc | BC Energy | bc home assessed value | BC Housing | bc landlords | BC Real Estate Council | BC Real Estate Foundation | BC Real Estate Rules | bc speculation tax | bc tax rules | bc title | bcrea | Belmont | beneficial interest | best realtor | bosa development | british columbia | british columbia real estate | building warranty | buy a condo in cedar hill | buy real estate in Rockland victoria bc | buyer | buyers | buyers tax | canada | canada home search | cannabis rules | capital park | cedar hill | central saanich | central saanich waterfront | character home | City of Saanich | clause to remove junk | close to uvic | CMHC | Co Hatley Park, Colwood Real Estate | coast hotel | concert properties | condo | condo downtown | condo for sale | consumer protection | corporations | cra | customs house | david foster | deceased on title | detached Homes | development opportunity | disclosure forms | dockland real estate victoria | downtown | downtown victoria | downtown victoria condo | downtown victoria condos | Downtown Victria | empty home tax | Es Rockheights, Esquimalt Real Estate | Es Saxe Point, Esquimalt Real Estate | esquimalt | esquimalt home | estate planning | evergreen hill | fairfield condo | fairfield rd | fantastic app | farm | farm land | february real estate statictics | fifteen 88 | fifteen88 | find a home in victoria | find a home victoria bc | find home find | First Time Home Buyer | fisherman's warf | fixed mortgage | for sale by owner | for sale by owner victoria | foreign b | foreign buyer tax | foreign buyer tax in british Columbia | foreign buyers | garden suite | go agent | gst | hacks | hamlet park | harbourside | home | Home Buyer | home for sale | Home Partnership Program | home renovations | home search criteria | home warranty | homes for sale | homes for sale in victoria bc | homes for sale under $400000 | housing market | hudson one | hudson place | hudson place one | hudson presale | Ilaria | income splitting | Jawl | jawl properties | joint tenancy | july statistics | june 15 | June 2018 | junk removal | kitma rd | La Bear Mountain, Langford Real Estate | La Glen Lake, Langford Real Estate | Ladysmith | lanford | langford | lefreve | legal | legato | luxury | luxury condo | luxury home | luxury real estate | luxury tax | luxury waterfront | manhattan | march statistics | market on yates | May | may statistics | misrepresentation | MLS | MLS 2018 August | mls app | mls statistics | mosaic | nanaimo | new bc budget 2018 | new foreign entity tax | new tax rules | newsletter september | non-resident | north dairy rd | ocean view | Offer | parkside | parkside hotel | parkside presale | polo village | Possession Dates | Pre-sale | pre-sale home | presale | presale condo | Properties | property | property guys | property transfer tax | purchase agreement | real estate | real estate app | Real Estate Foundation BC | real estate news | real estate purchase | real estate rule changes | real estate statistics | real estate tax | Real Estate Victori | real estate victoria | realtor | realtor tipline | realtor.ca | resale downtown victoria condo | residenes | residential property | rockland real estate victoria | roundhouse rise | saanich garden suite | save money | saxe point | scrap speculation tax | SE Cedar Hill, Saanich East Real Estate | SE Mt Doug, Saanich East Real Estate | search for homes on MLS | second property | selkirk waterway | seller | selling | september real estate news | sidney | Sidney condo | sidney condo project victoria | Sold properties | specul | specula | speculation | speculation ta | speculation tax | speculation tax for foreigners in British Columbia | statistics | Step One Code | subdivision | SW Portage Inlet, Saanich West Real Estate | SW Strawberry Vale, Saanich West Real Estate | SW Tillicum, Saanich West Real Estate | Tax | tax avoidance penalties property transfer tax | tax changes | tax changes in bc | tax fraud | tax penalties | Tax rukes | tax rules | tax splitting | telephone scam | Tenancy | tenants | the aragon | the jukebox | the juliet | the manhattan | the manhattan 930 yates | the railyards | thetis Glen | thetisglen | timeshare | title insurance | Top Realtor | Top Realtor Victoria BC | townhouse | Troke | trust agreements | Trusts | two lots | ubc | under 600 000 | vacation home | variable mortgage | Vi Burnside, Victoria Real Estate | Vi Downtown, Victoria Real Estate | Vi Fairfield West, Victoria Real Estate | Vi Fernwood, Victoria Real Estate | Vi Jubilee, Victoria Real Estate | Vi Mayfair, Victoria Real Estate | vic west new condo project | victora | victoria | Victoria August 2018 MLS Statistics | victoria bc | victoria bc canada | victoria bc home find | victoria condo | victoria condo market 2019 | victoria Day parade | victoria homes | victoria housing bubble | victoria inner harbour | victoria luxury condo | victoria pre sale | victoria property | victoria property searc | victoria property search | victoria real estate | victoria real estate board | victoria speculation tax | Victoria Top Realtor | victoria townhouse | victoria waterfront | victoria waterfront condo | Victoria Waterfront Properties | VR Prior Lake, View Royal Real Estate | VR Six Mile, View Royal Real Estate | VR View Royal, View Royal Real Estate | VREB | water view | waterfront | waterfront condo | waterfront property | waterview | wharf street | what is happening with BC speculation tax
NOTE: MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification. This website may only be used by consumers for the purpose of locating and purchasing real estate.