Key development in TREB tribunal hearing

by Olivia D'Orazio10 Apr 2015
The Toronto Real Estate Board’s tribunal hearing with Canada’s Competition Bureau has been pushed to the end of September.

TREB declined a REP request to comment on the decision to reschedule the hearing but confirmed it has, in fact, been moved from May and will instead be heard during the weeks of September 21 and October 5.

The Board has been in and out of court with the Bureau, which claims private sold data is anti-competitive. The move to reschedule the hearing, however, only further extends this lengthy legal battle, which began in 2011. Since then, the case has moved all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada, which in July refused to hear it.

At that time, John Pecman of the commission of competition, said the bureau welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. “We continue to believe that prohibiting TREB’s anti-competitive practices and allowing real estate agents to provide the services of their choice is the only way to ensure that consumers and real estate agents alike can benefit from increased competition for residential real estate brokerage services in the Greater Toronto Area.”

TREB shot back: “The commissioner of competition is persisting in its efforts to erode the personal privacy and contractual safeguards afforded by the MLS system. TREB will continue to work to protect the personal information entrusted to it and its members by the general public, while it strives always to do what it can to ensure a highly competitive environment for real estate professionals in the GTA.”

Agents on the ground, however, have been divided over the issue. Some sales reps, such as David Fleming, argue publicly available sold data is a great educational tool that can better prepare clients.

“On a go-forward basis, we Realtors should be interpreters of information, not gatekeepers,” he adds. “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.”

Other agents, though, point to the proprietary nature of the information.

“For the access to the information, the trends and data and graphs, we pay for that stuff as Realtors,” Elaine Smallwood says. “We shouldn’t have to give it away to the public for free. We have invested in this – it’s a business investment. To be told this isn’t yours, it belongs to the public, I believe the boards need to stand up for our rights, and that isn’t what’s going on.”


  • by Randy 4/10/2015 12:05:15 PM

    I do agree. The Board should stand up for the Rights of Realtor. We are paying a lot of Money to the Real estate organizations. If they want to give the public these access then they should not charge any fees to Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons while at the same time not have us be licensed along with bi-annually commitment to get CE credits. We should not pay for these if the public is not paying. They should get the public licensed and registered and have them take the Real estate course and do the CE every 2 years just like RE agents. Then we will all be on the same page. That will make the Real Estate Boards and Associations RICHER because it seems to me that they are only doing this to make money.

  • by Pat 4/10/2015 12:16:42 PM

    The Registered Sale Price is alreay available if the public want to pay for it through Geowarehouse Teranet or Mpac. So, why doesn't Toronto Real Estate Board just charge any person who wants to access 1 sale on a Pay-Per-Use. The person could be charged $5 dollars to get the information on just 1 sale. If they want to access 10 sales, the cost would be $50 dollars. This way, the Toronto Real Estate Board would benefit monetarily, and the Real Estate Sales Persons would not feel that the information is being given away for free. Let's get real, if someone wants to know how much a property traded for, there are numerous ways to find out anyways. PAY PER USE or SEARCH would benefit everyone.

  • by Cally 4/10/2015 12:22:46 PM

    The Competition Bureau will never agree to protect the perceived "rights" of Realtors. In their view, we are not members of the "public" they are charged to protect. Unfortunately, they do not embrace the concept that the financial information of all Canadians should be kept private -- including the sale price of any asset whether real estate or other investments, bank accounts, personal tax information, capital gains from the sale of stocks, etc. We have to stop squabbling about the impact on our marketing, and understand and argue that we are simply the first line of defense in keeping the financial information of all Canadians regarding real estate private.

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