A prominent West Vancouver real estate agent has been suspended for a year by the Real Estate Council of B.C. and ordered to pay council costs of almost $59,000 plus a $7,500 fine after being found guilty of professional misconduct six months ago.
But Shahin Behroyan of Re/Max Masters Realty indicated he has no plans to pack up his real estate business and has filed an appeal which has put the suspension on hold.
The real estate council – charged with regulating the professional conduct of Realtors – handed the year-long suspension to Behroyan following a hearing April 9. The decision was made public by the real estate council on Friday.
A three-member panel found in December 2017 that Behroyan committed professional misconduct when he pressured a seller into agreeing to give him a $75,000 bonus in connection with the sale of a $2.7-million home on Kings Avenue in West Vancouver in November of 2014.
The panel noted Behroyan had told the sellers an offer to buy their home was contingent on the bonus being paid, which he said was for the buyers’ agent, rather than himself. That constituted “deceptive dealing” and was a breach of his duty to act honestly, the council determined.
The bonus that was the primary issue in the disciplinary case “more than doubled the total commission” on the real estate deal, from just over $68,000 to just over $143,000, the disciplinary panel noted.
In assessing the penalty, the panel noted Behroyan’s false representations had caused the buyers’ payment of $75,000 to be tied up in trust for several years pending the council’s decision. “We therefore had little difficulty concluding that Mr. Behroyan’s misconduct fell squarely within the definition of civil fraud,” wrote the panel in their penalty decision, adding that “constitutes one of the most serious forms of professional misconduct.”
“The amount of money that (Behroyan) attempted to obtain was significant,” wrote the panel, adding, “He would have succeeded had (the buyer) not formally objected prior to the completion of the sale and subsequently commenced legal proceedings.”
The panel found other misconduct committed by Behroyan – that he didn’t tell the sellers he had recently sold the buyers’ home in West Vancouver, that he didn’t tell the sellers the buyers’ agent had agreed to split her commission with him, and that he didn’t tell them to seek independent legal advice – meant that buyers’ didn’t have information that might have caused them to become suspicious about the request for a bonus.
The panel concluded “a significant penalty was warranted to adequately reflect the seriousness of (Behroyan’s) misconduct.”
Jean Whittow, lawyer for the Real Estate Council, urged the disciplinary panel to cancel Behroyan’s licence and impose a five-year ban on reapplying, along with a $10,000 fine.
Behroyan’s lawyer John Shields said his client should receive a reprimand, noting Behroyan’s “youth and relative inexperience,” lack of disciplinary history and “an absence of serious harm” in light of Behroyan’s decision to give up his claim on the $75,000 bonus payment.
While Shields told the real estate council his client was “contrite apologetic, remorseful and embarrassed,” the panel found “Behroyan has not meaningfully acknowledged his misconduct.”
“In all the circumstances, we concluded that a suspension of one year would serve as a powerful deterrent to other members of the profession who might consider such misconduct,” the panel wrote.
The decision was to take effect June 1. However, both the real estate council and Behroyan have since filed appeals of the penalty decision to the Financial Services Tribunal. That has resulted in the suspension being automatically placed on hold until the outcome of the appeal.
Contacted for comment, Behroyan responded by email, saying his appeal is based on the panel ignoring “crucial evidence” in the case. “There is no merit whatsoever to the allegations against me and I look forward to the appeal,” he stated. “I’ve served hundreds of clients successfully and will continue to do so while this case is under appeal.”
Behroyan’s penalty is the fourth year-long suspension handed out of more than 50 suspensions imposed over the past three years, according to Marilee Peters, communications manager with the real estate council.
A trial in a civil lawsuit filed by the seller Mahin Hosseinalizadeh-Khorassani against Behroyan in B.C. Supreme Court has not yet taken place.
The lawsuit also names the brokerage for “abdication of professional responsibility” in failing to supervise Behroyan. Both Behroyan and Re/Max Masters Realty have denied any wrongdoing.