There is, truly, a great deal of professionalism and 'client-first' practitioners in my industry. This person is, however, a blunt and obvious example of an opposite element that smears us all at times like this (see below for link to CTV article).
The conditions that created the opportunity this individual acted on are a perfect symptom of one of the industry's biggest challenges. His actions are fraudulent, and opinions expressed in the public domain to date opining that the consequences do not fit the action are completely understandable, and totally valid, in my own opinion.
The conditions I refer to have to do with the long-standing, contractually-based process for how agent's representing buyers are typically paid. Some context is needed here: as in any professional services market, there's a pretty clear 'typical' range for fees. Currently, the seller's agent and the seller negotiate a fee in a listing contract, with a portion of that fee (approximately 46%) being designated, within the listing contract, to be offered to an agent that represents the buyer. This portion is then posted on the 'realtor only' side of MLS for all agents representing buyers to see when selecting properties for their clients to view. So, when a selling agent offers a reduced buyer's agent commission or a bonus on a buyer's agent commission, agents with little or no moral/ethical compass can avoid or promote said listing as it suits their best interests. The commission being paid to the buyer's agent is disclosed to the buyer at some point in the process... but it can easily be glossed over as just another initial in a myriad of contract-related documents. It is not uncommon for a buyer to be unaware of how, or how much, their representation got paid.
Why and how the industry developed this obtuse, but ingrained, process of agents who are representing buyers having their fees defined or greatly influenced by the seller and agent of the seller is confounding, and besides the point here. In any mediation or negotiation of any legal or financial importance, why on earth would one want the other side controlling or influencing how their own representation was compensated?
Buyers should directly negotiate and control how, and how much, their agent gets paid, and this should be discussed at the beginning of the relationship. Agents should be completely comfortable demonstrating their value. The home buying process should begin with a fair and contractual expectation of fees for services and services for fees... just as with any other professional service... just as the seller of the eventual home purchased will have done!
The common perception seems to be that a buyer's agent works for free for their client, or is paid from the fees paid by the seller to their agent; ie, at no ‘expense' to the buyer. This view is somewhat semantic; usually, at the end of the day, the buyer pays one amount, and the seller nets a lower amount, with the difference going towards realtor services. If you pay $400,000 for a property, and the seller will net $386,ooo, this means $14,000 is paid for real estate fees; feeling that this money is well-spent should be as important to a buyer as it will be to a seller. To that end, a buyer should interview at least two buyer's agents before choosing one to represent them. A good buyer's agent will be able to convey value for their services, should instill confidence in you that you will be advised competently, and should demonstrate strong market knowledge.
*Note; currently, buyers do have the choice to negotiate with and hire directly a buyer's agent, cutting the seller and/or seller's agent out of how much they pay their professional representative. In the future, it's our belief that this will be commonplace; it's become mandatory in a few regions of North America. Today in BC, buyer's agents have legal/fudiciary obligations to disclose their fees from the seller/seller's agent, protect their clients best interests at all times, etc..