“It’s only a matter of time before CREA and OREA capitulates and surrenders all the information to [the public],” writes one commenter called Steve in the REP forum. “We have seen them crumble on just about every other issue that's affected us, what's one more?”
That frustration seems to resonate with agents across the country, who are increasingly fed up with what they see as the boards’ bending to public demands. The open availability of the MLS, for instance, has led to the public’s sense of entitlement when it comes to housing data.
“The MLS is not publicly owned, nor is it government subsidized,” writes Jeff, another semi-anonymous commenter in the forum. “Nor are the various boards and associations or CREA publicly owned, or publicly funded. The only people who pay for the MLS system to operate, or for the boards and associations to operate, are the 95,000 real estate agents across the country who pay membership dues … the Multiple Listing System was designed by agents, for agents, as a peer to peer information sharing tool to use in the course of their business.”
In Toronto, sales reps are particularly anxious as the local board prepares to go up against the country’s competition bureau in May. The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has been through several rounds with the bureau, which claims the private sold data is anticompetitive.
Should TREB succumb to government and publicly driven pressure to open the sold data, the rest of the country could be forced to follow suit.
“The sold information can be had by going down to your local property registry office at your provincial building but it is not organized and it is a lot of work to source out the information a person is looking for,” Jeff writes. “If the government ever mandates that we have to make our database public, then the government can then start paying my dues, ‘cause right now that is what is paying for the system to run.”
Outside of availability of the data – however disorganized that data might be – agents say the board should have their interests at heart.
“I for one have to ask myself, what am I getting for my board fees every month?” Steve writes. “I'm so fed up with the industry, which gives everything away for free, and charges Realtors up the kazoo. This industry forces agents to seek work elsewhere or work part-time, because it’s getting harder to make a living every day.”
Agents are questioning the resilience of their local boards as those associations face increasing pressure to make sold data public.