Frequently asked questions
What is the OACIQ?
The Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ) is a non-profit organization created to protect the public by overseeing the work of Québec real estate and mortgage brokers and ensuring the enforcement of and compliance with the Real Estate Brokerage Act.
The Organization is mandated by the Government of Québec and reports to the Minister of Finance. Its structure is similar to that of a professional order.
To find out more about the OACIQ, see the section About.
What is the difference between a real estate agent and a real estate broker?
A real estate broker is a person who guides you through each step of your real estate transaction, whether residential or commercial. This person used to be referred to as a "real estate agent". He may act on his own account or on behalf of a real estate agency.
A real estate agency is a legal person or firm that carries out brokerage activities through the intermediary of one or more real estate or mortgage brokers.
A real estate broker whose licence is not restricted to residential or commercial real estate can help you in your search for financing. However, since 2010, there is also a profession called mortgage broker. This person specializes in the search for financing. A mortgage broker may act on his own account or on behalf of a real estate or mortgage agency.
A mortgage agency is a legal person or firm that, through the intermediary of one or more mortgage brokers, engages exclusively in brokerage transactions relating to loans secured by immovable hypothec.
In summary, the OACIQ issues four categories of licences: real estate broker, mortgage broker, real estate agency, and mortgage agency.
Why should I do business with a real estate broker?
A real estate broker offers many benefits and protections which you do not have access to when you act on your own or via an online sales company.
For example, a broker will take charge of every step of your transaction. He will put his solid network of professionals as well as his expertise and skills at your disposal, whether for evaluation or for negotiation purposes. He is a knowledgeable advisor.
In addition, doing business with a broker gives you access to the Info OACIQ Center for any questions you may have at any point in your transaction. You are also protected because all brokers contribute to a professional liability fund called the Fonds d’assurance responsabilité professionnelle du courtage immobilier du Québec (FARCIQ), as well as to the Québec Real Estate Indemnity Fund (FICI).
Why should I go through a mortgage broker to get financing or renew my mortgage?
By opting to be represented by a mortgage broker or a broker who works in the mortgage field, you are doing business with a professional who has your interests at heart and has access to several competing financial institutions.
This enables him, among other things, to:
- offer sound advice at each step your mortgage financing process;
- do a comprehensive search to find the mortgage loan best adapted to your needs;
- present and explain the various options available to you, such as fixed or variable rate, 5 or 10-year term, etc.
To find out more about the advantages of doing business with a mortgage broker, visit the section Mortgage.
I would like to do business with a real estate broker. What should I do?
The first step is to choose a broker who meets your requirements and knows your area well. Ask people you know, family, colleagues or neighbours: they are sure to be valuable sources of reference.
You can also use the Find a broker tool, which enables you to search by region.
Then, contact a few brokers to find one that meets your expectations. Do you feel at ease with this person? Does this person work alone or as part of a team? What type of visibility does he offer? What is his business plan to help you with your transaction? If you wish, take a few days to think about it before you sign the contract.
I have a problem with my transaction. Can the OACIQ help?
If you are dealing with a real estate or a mortgage broker, the OACIQ can put several resources at your disposal.
Our website is the first step to finding a solution to your problem. It is full of information on the various steps of a real estate transaction. You can use the search engine in the top right-hand corner of your screen to enter a key word relating to your problem, such as "promise to purchase" or "pyrite".
You can also see the section Problem?, which presents the various OACIQ resources at your disposal.
In addition, you may contact the OACIQ Info Center, which can provide information or guidance on the steps you should take.
I am not satisfied with my broker's services, what can I do?
Before you choose the broker who will accompany you throughout your real estate or mortgage transaction, you must make sure a professional relationship of trust exists between you. Once this is in place, you can discuss any subject with your broker, including any source of dissatisfaction, in order to remedy the situation. If you cannot reach an agreement with your broker who is acting for an agency, you can speak to the executive officer of his agency.
If you are still not satisfied, contact the OACIQ Info Center: its qualified information agents will advise you on your options and the steps you should take, including submitting a request for assistance.
What are the requirements to become a real estate or mortgage broker?
Not just anyone can become a broker: the profession is very well structured and regulated.
It begins with a mandatory basic training program, followed by an entrance examination.
Then, the future broker must apply to the OACIQ for a licence to practice: no one may practice real estate or mortgage brokerage without such a licence in Québec.
Throughout his career, the broker will be required to attend a number of training activities made mandatory by the OACIQ.
For more details on this topic, visit the section Becoming a broker.
Is a real estate broker allowed to solicit me if I am selling my home myself?
Yes, but real estate and mortgage brokers must always act professionally, in accordance with their code of ethics. Section 72 of the Regulation respecting brokerage requirements, professional conduct of brokers and advertising states that a broker must not urge a person insistently or improperly to use his services.
In addition, all real estate and mortgage brokers who canvas using telephone listings must abide by CRTC rules regarding unsolicited telecommunications. For more information, see the article Telephone solicitation rules.
What are MLS and Centris?
Centris.ca® is an information dissemination service between real estate professionals. When your broker lists your property on Centris®, all brokers with access to the service are informed that your home is on the market. Since this service is also available to all potential buyers, it is a very valuable showcase.
In Québec, Centris® is the only information dissemination service between brokers or agencies. REALTOR.ca, which many people still mistakenly refer to as "MLS®", is one of various websites which your broker can use to market your property if he is a member of a real estate board which itself is a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association.
May I use OACIQ forms even if I am not dealing with a broker?
No. To obtain and use the forms published by the OACIQ, a person must have a licence to practice issued by the OACIQ, as only a broker is qualified to complete them properly.
However, the OACIQ makes unusable forms available to the public for consultation purposes. All reproduction rights are reserved.
How is a broker's remuneration – also called commission – determined?
The rate or percentage of remuneration that brokers receive is not fixed by the Real Estate Brokerage Act or by the OACIQ, nor by any other legislation.
Remuneration, or commission, is based on free competition. It generally represents a percentage of the sale price of the property and is usually paid at the signing of the deed of sale. It can also be a set amount or an hourly rate and can be payable as soon as the services are rendered, depending on the business model used by your broker. You must discuss this with him, as this information must be agreed upon right from the start in your contract, whether it concerns a purchase or a sale.
Your contract must also specify the percentage or the amount that your broker undertakes to share with any other broker collaborating in the transaction, if applicable.
For more information on remuneration, see the article Remuneration payable by the seller.
Can I terminate my brokerage contract? (purchase or sale)
You may unilaterally terminate your brokerage contract before the expiry date indicated in the contract, unless the contract contains a clause to the effect that it is not cancellable. If this is the case, you cannot terminate it for any reason, except with the consent of the broker, if he is acting on his own account, or of the agency for which he is acting.
It is important to know that in case of cancellation, the broker may claim costs and expenses incurred during the term of the contract. He may also be entitled to remuneration if the property is sold or purchased within 180 days following the termination of the contract, to a person who was interested in the property during the term of the contract, in accordance with the terms of the agreement.
Important note: Even in a case where the contract includes a clause to the effect that it is non-cancellable, under the Real Estate Brokerage Act the seller may terminate the contract within 3 days following receipt of a duly signed duplicate of the contract. This is called the “right to cancel”. In such a case, the broker may not claim any remuneration. However, if a sale or purchase takes place within 180 days following the date at which the contract was terminated with a person who was interested in the property during the term of the contract, the broker retains the right to claim his remuneration, under certain conditions.
For more information, see the following articles:
May I use the services of a real estate broker to purchase a property? If so, how does that work?
Of course! Your real estate broker is your ally for all your real estate transactions, including purchase, sale or lease. Once you have chosen a broker, you can enter into a Brokerage contract – Purchase with him, which clearly establishes the bases on which your broker will act as well as your rights and obligations.
The broker will present all properties that match your criteria, whether they are for sale by the owner or through another broker. He can also solicit the owners of properties that are not for sale but for which you have a particular interest. Finally, entering into a brokerage contract to purchase with a broker is especially advantageous in cases where the property in which you are interested is being sold without the services of a broker, because your broker will make all the necessary verifications.
Don't forget that you can also do business with a mortgage broker (or a broker who is licensed in this field) to obtain your mortgage loan.
To learn about the main steps of purchasing a property with the help of a broker, read the Buyer's Guide, created and published by the OACIQ.
What is the difference between an offer to purchase and a promise to purchase?
In everyday language, the expression "offer to purchase" is often used; but the form that must be completed at this stage is called a "promise to purchase", in which the future buyer promises to purchase the seller's property under certain conditions.
To get an idea of what a promise to purchase looks like, see the form by the same name.
If I find a house myself, can I get a broker to represent me?
Yes. You may call on the services of a broker to represent you at any point in your transaction.
Important note: If you go to an open house and you are represented by a broker or you intend to use the services of a particular broker, you should let the seller's broker know in order to avoid any misunderstanding.
If I receive several promises to purchases at the same time, can I choose the one I want?
Yes, since your real estate broker has a duty to present all promises to purchase he receives. He can also help you make the right choice, as no two promises to purchase are alike. You could be tempted by the offer with the highest price, but conditions such as the sale of the buyer's home, the inspection period, the date of occupancy as well as the inclusions and exclusions can also play an important part in your decision.
With his skills, your broker can help you determine the impact of all the conditions contained in a promise to purchase and find the right balance between these conditions and the offering price.
I want to sell my house; do I have to complete the form Declarations by the seller of the immovable?
Yes. When you do business with a real estate broker for the sale of your property, you must complete the mandatory form Declarations by the seller of the immovable with your broker, to the best of your knowledge. This is a guarantee of security, both for you and for the buyer. If you refuse to complete it or sign it, the broker will simply not be able to enter into a brokerage contract with you.
How can I make sure the buyer is serious?
Your broker is there to make the necessary verifications in order to determine if the buyer is serious and ready to purchase your property.
You can also look for certain factors that are indicative of a serious buyer:
- He makes a thorough visit;
- He has a mortgage pre-authorization, which tells you how much he can borrow.
- He presents a promise to purchase, in which he undertakes to purchase your property if all conditions are fulfilled;
- His promise to purchase includes a deposit on the selling price of your property, which will be deposited in a trust account until the promise to purchase is accepted or refused;
- The conditions of his promise to purchase call for an inspection, etc.
For more details on the promise to purchase, see the section "The promise to purchase" in the OACIQ's Seller's Guide.
Can I list my property on Centris® even if I am not doing business with a real estate broker?
No. Only real estate brokers may list properties on Centris®, since it is an information dissemination service between real estate brokerage professionals. You must therefore use the services of a broker to list your property on this service. However, you cannot use the services of a broker solely for the purpose of listing your property on Centris®, as the broker has an obligation to oversee the entire transaction.
When your broker lists your property on Centris®, all brokers with access to the service are informed that your home is on the market. Since this service is also available to all potential buyers, it is a very valuable showcase. Visit Centris.ca.
May I sell my home myself even if I am doing business with a real estate broker?
Yes. The Brokerage contract – Sale can be amended to authorize the owner to offer his own immovable for sale without affecting the exclusive nature of the brokerage contract.
However, this authorization remains at the broker's discretion and must be stated clearly under clause 11.1 of the brokerage contract in order to avoid any conflict as to the buyer's provenance, whether or not the broker may claim remuneration, and the selling price of the property that will be advertised.
For more details on this topic, see the article Exclusive brokerage contract: can the broker authorize his client to offer the immovable for sale by himself?
How can I find out if my broker has received ethical or disciplinary sanctions in the past?
Among other things, you may:
- Check the Register of licence holders to see whether he holds a valid licence, check the list of trainings he completed and whether he is subject to a disciplinary measure;
- Consult the Calendar of disciplinary hearings to see if an upcoming hearing is scheduled for the broker;
- Visit the jugements.qc.ca website, where disciplinary hearing decisions are posted;
- Search the notices issued by the Discipline Committee or by the Licence Issue and Maintenance Committee. These notices pertain to licence suspensions or revocations, or the imposition of conditions or restrictions on a licence.
You may also contact the Registry of the Discipline Committee to help you in your search:
450 462-9800 or 1 800 440-7170, ext. 8350
Is my broker obligated to use OACIQ forms to sell my commercial property?
No. There are no mandatory forms for brokerage contracts and transaction proposals concerning an immovable containing 5 or more dwellings, a commercial or industrial immovable, an enterprise, or a vacant lot.
However, the broker must include in the contract or the transaction proposal all mandatory statements required by regulation. He may also, at his discretion, use the forms recommended by the OACIQ, which are designed especially for these situations and include these mandatory statements.
In addition, although the OACIQ form Declarations by the seller of the immovable is not a mandatory annex to a brokerage contract for an immovable containing 5 or more dwellings, a commercial or industrial immovable, an enterprise, or a vacant lot, the broker's obligation to recommend that the owner provide his declarations on the immovable remains.
To find out what mandatory statements are required under the Act, see the article Commercial immovable or enterprise: mandatory statements in any brokerage contract or transaction proposal.
Can I do business with any real estate broker to sell my commercial immovable?
No. Some brokers have licences restricted to residential or mortgage brokerage; they may not act as intermediary in a commercial transaction.
In addition, real estate brokers with an unrestricted licence may act in commercial matters, but a note of caution: not just anyone can claim to be a specialist in this field! Check the signs: brokers who work mainly in this field sometimes advertise it. You can also ask people who have done a similar transaction in the past; they can probably refer you to a broker whose work they appreciated.
In addition, when you do a search using the Find a broker tool, the broker's information will include his licence category.
In what situations must I do business with a broker authorized to act in commercial transactions?
A transaction requires a real estate broker authorized to engage in commercial brokerage in the following situations:
- Immovable in which more than 50% of the area is used for commercial purposes. However, if the area of the immovable is used equally for commercial and residential purposes, a broker restricted to residential brokerage may act as intermediary. A good practice would be for him to find the help he needs by working with a broker authorized to engage in commercial brokerage;
- An immovable containing 5 or more dwellings;
- An enterprise whose assets, according to their market value, are mainly immovable;
- A vacant commercial lot.
See the section on the commercial real estate broker of our website for more information.