“I don’t see any Realtors complaining about us being able to use sold data,” says Matt France, an agent in Vancouver, where sold data is readily accessible by the public. “You sell what you have. If the public has access to it, you have to find your value in other ways.”
Real estate professionals in the Greater Vancouver Area have not ceased to exist since B.C. Assessment made the data available to the public. Buyers and sellers continue to use the services of licensed real estate agents – for-sale-by-owner listings are even less common on the west coast.
“I don’t think that data being protected or kept private has a lot of impact on consumer behaviour,” says Brad Gannon, an agent in Burnaby, B.C. “(Clients) are still looking at a Realtor for our analysis of the data.”
Those agents in the Greater Toronto Area who are for the publication of the data have also pointed to sales reps’ value-add, which they say goes far beyond being gatekeepers of the information housed on the MLS.
“On a go-forward basis, we Realtors should be interpreters of information, not gatekeepers,” says David Fleming, an agent in Toronto. “It’s not our job to safeguard this information. The public will have access to it [eventually], our job is to advise and guide, not to hold back the information. There’s no real value in that.”
Back in Vancouver, though, Gannon says the market is so active that sold data all but requires a professional to understand.
“Our market is kind of unique,” he says. “Sold data from six months ago could be out of date. (Clients) need us to say what the data is this month, this week – it’s that volatile.”
Toronto-area agents bemoaning the pitfalls of public sold data might take a page from one Canadian market where public data is already a reality – and where, in fact, the sky hasn’t fallen.