The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) has taken further action against RE/MAX North Country as it continues its investigation into a real estate trust account shortage.

RECO announced Jan. 28 it had issued a freeze order to the bank accounts of RE/MAX North Country and revoked its registration, as well as the registration of one of its owners, broker of record Ray Jarvis. This follows the suspension of those registrations Dec. 31 due to several concerns, including the brokerage’s management and financial position.

Minden RE/MAX agent Blake O’Byrne said at this point, the investigation and any punishments have little bearing on local agents. Most former RE/MAX North Country agents are now under the RE/MAX Professionals brokerage, which is moving into the area to fill the void.

“Locally, it has no effect. That company’s (RE/MAX North Country) not in operation,” he said.

The order prevents any more money from being withdrawn from the broker’s accounts. RECO said the investigation is ongoing but no further details could be shared at this time.

The process of unravelling the finances of the company will take some time, O’Byrne said. With RE/ MAX North Country frozen, any agent still owed commissions must file an insurance claim. He said it could take two or three years to pay out, though brokers already understood that when the investigation began.

“Hopefully, we’ll get most of our money down the road, but it’s a long process,” O’Byrne said.

Meanwhile, RE/MAX Professionals is getting more established, O’Byrne said. Agents are already working under the banner remotely and the brokerage said it plans to secure office space in the area very soon.

“Our RE/MAX agents are already active members of their communities and committed to helping home buyers and sellers across the region,” Leah Ambler, broker and owner of RE/ MAX Professionals, said. “We are excited to begin opening new office locations and become more integrated members of the community as a local business.”

“They put a whole company with 70 people into operation,” O’Byrne said. “What they’ve done has just been amazing … We’re still doing business left and right.”

Correction: The print version of this story in the Feb. 6 edition of The Highlander said the new brokerage was RE/MAX North Professionals. In fact, the brokerage is RE/MAX Professionals. The Highlander apologizes for the error.

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