Toronto Real Estate Board hides behind privacy while Court does the right thing.

The Toronto Real Estate board hides behind “privacy” while The Federal Court of Appeals has ruled that  it cannot prevent members from publishing how much properties sold for.

All Points Relocation Canada has written about big effects on the real estate market before.  However, this is a big step in the right direction for consumer rights, and we have not spoken about that.

Currently, if you are a consumer in most real estate districts, you cannot find out information about what a property sold for in your area, or in an area you are considering purchasing. This information is the exclusive property of the Multiple Listing Service and boards like TREB have kept them off limits to the public.

TREB says that it will appeal the decision and that it is fighting for the privacy rights of those that have sold their homes. All Points Relocation Canada thinks this is a smokescreen. The real reason TREB wants to keep this data hidden, is because there is only one way to get at that data if you are a consumer – through a Realtor. They want to ensure that you use the services of a Realtor, and by keeping this information behind a wall, it forces consumers into Realtors’ arms.

Why does the privacy argument lack weight?  Because you can get that information any time you want – if you go through a Realtor.  This information is readily available by thousands of Realtors every day and they will give it to you when you start to work with them. You can’t argue privacy if the minute someone asks a Realtor for that data, it is handed over.

Is this a big victory?

Yes! But this is only a step in the right direction. Remember, the ruling allows Realtors to make this data available on their website for others to see. If a given Realtor does not want to make it available, they do not have to.  This ruling will allow creative Realtors to design new business models and innovative websites that will get them new and engaged customers. They will even be able to create analytic models around sales data. Also, if you are selling your home by yourself, you have good data with which to judge your own sales price.

The ultimate goal is for this information to be made available to the public.  Only then can we truly say that MLS has been democratized. There still will be a slew of Realtors that do not make this information public.  But if a consumer is to make an informed choice about what to offer on a property this data is very important.

Kudos to the courts and let’s hope that TREB’s appeal is not successful.

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