“We have to guide our buyers,” says Peter Barbati, an agent in Barrie, Ont. “Not just give them something and say, here make a decision and I’ll sign the papers for you. Nothing is as dangerous as information in the wrong hands. Statistics can do a lot of damage.”
The number of days a property spends on the market market is a good example of how misunderstanding data can lead to an unfulfilling experience for buyers.
“With DOM, I think the agent would want to qualify that,” says Greg Kirby, an agent in Kenora, Ont. “I think a buyer sees days on market and they think … something is wrong with [the property] but it could be extenuating circumstances.”
Further, Barbati says publicizing the data would undermine the fees that agents pay.
“Everything requires money to accumulate and it’s the members who are paying for this [data],” he says. “If you give away all the information I’m using and diminishing my role, what am I paying for?”
While that sentiment is often distorted by those in favour of opening the MLS, Barbati’s opinion is actually founded in the betterment of the industry and its service to the public.
“If there isn’t an agent, at least a knowledgeable agent, helping them, [the data] could be misinterpreted,” Kirby adds, “and people could get themselves in trouble based on what they think [they’re interpreting].”
Opening MLS sales data to the public would be a mistake, say agents arguing the potential for catastrophic misinterpretation far outweighs the benefit to publicizing the information.