Toronto Home Sale Prices
Since 2011, a battle has been raging between the Federal Competition Bureau and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). The key issue of contention surrounds the publishing of sold data to the general public. This is currently in control of realtors. This means that properties that are listed through the MLS are made public via sites like Realtor.ca. However, once that property sells, the sold price and details of the sale are suddenly concealed from the public. Currently, Toronto home sale prices are only accessible by a registered real estate agent.
What does this Mean?
On Friday, the Federal Court of Appeal made a ruling. It upheld a previous decision in favour of the Competition Bureau’s efforts to reverse the current policy. This could allow real estate websites to disclose much more detailed sales information to the public. A release by the Commissioner of Competition believes: “Today’s decision is an important win for competition and for consumers — it paves the way for much-needed innovation in the real estate industry
“. In lieu of this decision, The Toronto Real Estate Board has reiterated their intention. They continue the fight by seeking leave to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court, arguing that “personal financial information of home buyers and sellers must continue to be safely used and disclosed
Toronto Home Sale Prices Are About to Be Public
It is my opinion that the position TREB is taking is out of step with the times. Ultimately, it’s only a question of time that this information will be made open to the public. I agree with the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision. Additionally, I support the publishing of sold and historical data in the public domain. However, a lot can happen from the time an offer is accepted to when the transaction closes. In fact, deals can fall apart or not close for a host of reasons. I do not think the sale information should be public until it is a true historical comparable. This means, when funds and keys are exchanged. Anything short of that could put a seller in an adverse position in the event that a deal is unsuccessful.
In the neighbouring U.S., home sales information is already public. Businesses like Zillow have flourished in providing consumers with in-depth market information, valuations and data. All of which, Canadians currently do not have access to. There is an assumption that the real reason TREB is fighting this long-standing dispute is to protect the position that realtors have. The privilege is in being the “gatekeepers” of information. In my opinion, this reasoning seems utter nonsense.
Working With a Realtor
This situation brings to mind a time when a good friend of mine set out to purchase their second property. I will never forget our initial conversation. My friend (a Google Executive) illustrated a time where Google or another competitor would take over the real estate industry. This would make realtors all but obsolete. Surely there could be an algorithm in the not-so-distant future to solve any problem, including finding a home. After a year-long exhaustive search, he finally settled on a property. I will always remember the conversation we had upon his property closing. He thanked me and recanted his earlier prediction by stating “the guidance, experience, service, negotiating skills and support that Fox Marin provided was something that could never be replaced by the presentation of raw data alone”.
Toronto Sale Prices as Public Will Raise the Bar
If you are a service provider/consultant and you can add significant value to a transaction, no matter what the industry, you will ultimately thrive in any climate. From the time that home sale information was public in the U.S., there was no real decline in the number of transactions that realtors were involved in. In fact, commission rates did not drop. When home sale information is inevitably public here in Toronto and the rest of the country, the only agents who should be fearful are the ones whose only value is to provide data currently not accessible to the public. The Toronto Real Estate Board has over 45,000 members. When this information is public, I believe it will only help to raise the bar and level of service in our industry. It will ultimately create a presence of competition.
This article is written by Ralph Fox, Broker of Record and Managing Partner here at Fox Marin Associates. Ralph is a Torontonian native who recognized from an early age that the most successful people in life apply long-term thinking to their investments, relationships, and life goals. It’s this philosophy, along with his lifelong entrepreneurial drive and exceptional business instincts that help to establish Ralph as a top agent in the real estate market in downtown Toronto.