Some time ago, privacy legislation made some changes which made the Realtor's life a little trickier in order to protect your privacy. FINTRAC, the people charged with trying to control things like money laundering have now introduced regulations that require us to pry into your privacy !
The privacy legislation severely restricts what we can say about home owners and sales, even though most will become public-record information as soon as the sale closes. For example (technically) if you are curious what your neighbour's house sold for and ask your Realtor, they can't tell you.
The first set of FINTRAC regulation was no big deal. If you wanted to pay a deposit or other amount on a home of $10,000 or more in CASH, we had to report you to the feds. Since we have never had anyone want to do this, it was nothing but a minor change in a clause.
But now (effective June 23, 2008) they got us with a new one.
Now we are required to document the identity of every buyer and seller. That means every buyer/seller will be required to produce a passport, birth certificate, SIN number or equivalent and we will record the information in the deal's files. Federal regulation; gotta do it.
Clever people, these money launderers. They have been known to produce a wire transfer for, say, a $100,000 deposit on an offer. This money goes into the Broker's trust fund. The offer might be below market value, so it doesn't go. The Broker cuts a cheque back to the unsuccessful buyer for the amount of the deposit transfer. Poof! $100,000 in laundered, clean money.
Sigh. It's a world out there.