In a historical move, the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal from the country’s largest real estate board. Up until this week, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has had a ban on publishing real estate numbers and home sales data online.
Beginning the fight in 2011, the TREB appealed the Competition Bureau’s request to have said data published, claiming publication would violate individual consumers’ privacy and copyright. The battle originally started with TREB taking it to the Competition Tribunal and later the Federal Court of Appeal. When both of these organizations sided with the Competition Bureau, the TREB went to the Supreme Court.
It didn’t end well for the TREB however, an organization that represents more than 50,000 agents across Ontario. On August 23rd, the court refused to hear the case, and dismissed it, ending a battle that has carried on for several years.
The move was significant, because it likely marks the end of the road for TREB’s efforts to prevent the data from being published, and now paves the way for increased transparency in the housing market. More than that though, it sets a precedent for other real estate boards.
Queen’s University professor, John Andrew, denotes that “a lot of local real estate boards were waiting to see what happened with this decision,” and now that it is known, the outcome will impact other boards across Canada. Boards, indicates Andrew, will “no longer try to resist this kind of demand from their own members,” affording individual agents and firms the opportunity to publish and release this kind of information should they choose to.
And for consumers, the choice is beneficial as well. With an increased level of transparency and honesty towards housing prices, sales figures, and market trends, future buyers and sellers can have a more accurate picture of the market and where it is and where it is going. This bodes well for individuals in the throes of deciding to sell or buy, as well as those with investment properties that may or may not be having the revenue turnover they expect.
Dubbed as a ‘hugely important’ real estate data battle, experts predict that realtors will at quickly, with large numbers of agents posting data in the next 60 days, as required by the Competition Tribunals order. This will mean buyers and sellers have access to the information and can educate themselves on how to best price their home, how to negotiate through sale prices and what buyers should be expecting to pay.
While up until now, consumers would require the services of an agent or broker who could access the Multiple Listing Service database for relevant selling and buying information, this move by the Supreme Court opens up a level playing field for agents and buyers. And while some agents are concerned that consumers having access to this information will jeopardize the need for an agent, Andrew disagrees.
And RE/Max director Christopher Alexander concurs: “good, experienced realtors are a lot more valuable” than simply the information itself.
If you want to learn more about how this decision impacts you as a buyer, seller or home owner, please reach out to me. I would love to help and offer further insight or answer your questions.