By Ashley Fitzpatrick and James McLeod
As of one minute to midnight, the real estate licence for Exit Realty on the Rock will be suspended.
According to a notice issued shortly after 3 p.m. by ServiceNL, the company formally known as 50549 Newfoundland and Labrador Inc., operating as Exit Realty on the Rock, is involved in a matter currently under investigation.
No further comment on that matter was made.
The decision to suspend the company’s real estate licence was made by the provincial Superintendent of Real Estate Agents and Salespersons.
“People who are engaged in real estate transactions involving this firm should contact their lawyer, or the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Realtors (NLAR),” the notice reads.
“The association can be reached by phone at 1-855-726-5110, or by email at email@example.com. Industry professionals with questions about licensing can contact Service NL at 729-2595.”
NLAR CEO Bill Stirling said as word spreads, calls have come flooding in to the province's real estate association office.
The association learned of the licence decision earlier today, he said, and was not involved in the start of the investigation of the real estate company.
"They haven't shared with us what the nature of the investigation is," he said.
"We haven't had any complaints (about EXIT Realty on the Rock)."
As for anyone currently involved in a real estate deal, Stirling said he does not see risk for the general public as a result of the decision.
"The question for us as an industry is how do we make sure our members get paid the commission that they're owed."
At a 4 p.m. press conference, Stirling reiterated only Exit Realty on the Rock is affected by the licence change and not other Exit Realty franchises operating in the province.
As for the effect of the licence suspension, it is specific to the franchise.
Realtors are licensed through their employer. Therefore any realtors with the affected company are not directly held up from further work in real estate. If hired by another agency, they can be licensed again and continue work while the ServiceNL-noted investigation continues.
Meanwhile, Exit Realty on the Rock agents were reticent to speak to the Telegram, but multiple agents indicated that the company was planning on restructuring.
"There's going to be another division formed, and we're going to go with another division of Exit," one agent said.
Another agent indicated that there may be some association with Exit Realty Ocean Edge, but the Telegram was unable to contact franchisee Debbie McGrath. The Telegram was also unable to immediately contact Exit Realty on the Rock owner Anne Squires.
But the company may be offering hints on the Internet. The website for Exit Realty On the Rock automatically forwards to the Oceans Edge brokerage.
On Facebook, Exit Realty On the Rock agent Bern Tobin posted and also talked about the merger.
"This is … not a reflection of the hard working Realtors in the office," Tobin wrote.
"I have signed a form so all my clients, pending deals, listings and my business will be protected and I will fall under Exit Oceans Edge as of midnight. This is as much a surprise to me today as you."