This is big! And definitely a win for home buyers and sellers. Last week the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) lost their battle against the Competition Bureau when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it will not hear TREB‘s appeal to keep sale prices and historical listing data private.
Currently, if your neighbour Bob lists his home you can easily access the listing through the public MLS site at Realtor.ca. However, when Bob sells the home, the sale price is not easily available without a Realtor. Of course, anyone can go down to the land registry office and for a small fee you can have a look at the sold data for any particular home. However, most people rely on getting this information from a Realtor.
Not anymore! Details are still being ironed out, however, within the next 60 days the general public will now be able to access this information through password protected sites operated by real estate brokerages or sales representatives. The information will be free, so be careful of websites asking you to pay for this information (I’m sure there will be some that will try!).
Some of my colleagues are up in arms wondering what use the public will have for realtors now that this crucial piece of information is made available. Well let’s just break this down for a moment: Back in 2010, the Competition Bureau and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) signed an agreement allowing flat fee listings. This came as a result of the Bureau forcing our industry to provide alternative ways of doing business for those sellers who opted to sell privately rather than pay a realtor’s commission fee. I’m all for that!! This meant that low-fee brokerages would allow customers to pay a flat fee (approx $500-$1000) for a ‘mere listing’ on the multiple listing service (MLS). As a seller, you can post your listing on the MLS and not be represented by a Realtor.
You can imagine many of my colleagues thought the sky was falling and that our profession was in jeopardy. Last week’s ruling is a little reminiscent of the change we saw eight years ago. Well I can assure you that our MLS system has not been taken over by for-sale-by-owner and ‘mere listings’.
All that has resulted in last week’s ruling (and the mere post ruling from eight years ago) is more choice and transparency for consumers. Let’s just call it keeping up with the times. Our world has changed leaps and bounds with the implementation of technology. Anybody ever heard of Uber or Lyft? And somehow traditional taxi companies still exist.
I embrace this decision for two reasons: Firstly, I’m quite confident that the value-added services I provide for my buyers and sellers go far beyond simply providing the sold data in there interested area. I would argue the INTERPRETATION of this data is key. And it’s realtors that have the experience, education and tools to help consumers analyze and interpret the data correctly (and let’s not forget all the other services we provide, like negotiation skills, preparing a home for sale, staging, painting, marketing, pushing paperwork and following up with all parties involved, just to name a few). More information always benefits the consumer, however it can be over-whelming and a detriment if you don’t know how to use it correctly.
Secondly, I think this change forces Realtors to up our game! It creates an opportunity for us to think of new and innovative ways to use this data. Whether it’s creating more robust tools to interpret and share data to the public, or thinking of next level opportunities such as artificial intelligence – the opportunities are exciting and endless. And for the public, it means more value-added services to look forward to. Win-Win!
If you need help navigating the home buying or selling process I’d love the opportunity to speak with you. I’m a field of corn…all Ears! And I’m here to help.