“I think it will have an impact but it won’t be as big as everyone thinks,” Ron Hauth, a Toronto-based agent with RE/MAX, told REP. “There will always be a place for professionals.”
The competition tribunal recently ordered the Toronto Real Estate Board to open its data up to the public.
"I welcome [the] order by the Competition Tribunal requiring the Toronto Real Estate Board to permit member agents to use and display critical data on virtual office websites,” John Pecman, commissioner of competition, said following the announcment. “The Bureau remains focused on ensuring that consumers benefit from innovation and competition in the provision of real estate services."
An order issued by the Competition Tribunal will require TREB to remove restrictions on sold data that its agents have access to.
Initial fears that agents’ competitive advantage in that market would be eroded, but that’s not the case, according to Hauth, who drew a comparison to another industry he once witnessed.
“I've seen someone repair attempt to repair his own outboard [boat motor] using an on line manual,” Hauth, whose family owned a marina, said. “[He] bought $100 of parts and off he went. Came back the next day, had screwed up most of the new parts, so had to buy them again, had also screwed up a few other things too.”
Hauth believes agents will continue to help homebuyers and sellers avoid similar mistakes when it comes to an admittedly much more expensive asset.
“Mistakes they can make is taking a low offer, taking the first offer; agents help take the emotional aspect out of the home buying process,” he said.
Initial worries are overblown, according to one veteran who argues there will always be a need for agent expertise.