Sales data should stay private, agents say

by Olivia D'Orazio09 Jan 2015
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.
“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].”


  • by R. CRONJE 1/9/2015 3:51:11 PM

    Would REP's then also agree that patients (e.g.) should not have access to same info re their health, that doctors have, since it can lead to 'catastrophic misinterpretation'?
    Maybe the public should have all the info, so that they can ask informed questions (as with doctors and patients), which means the REP's should stay more educated than the public. I don't want to pay for REP's access to info - I want to pay for their knowledge.

  • by Mike V. 1/9/2015 7:23:14 PM

    The above comment is a prime example of the type of damage this could have on the real estate industry from all sides. I am seriously failing to see the correlation that is attempted to be demonstrated in the above comment. Let's start off by saying that when you go to a doctor the information you are being presented with is (your own) medical records - Not the entire public's information which is what you are asking for by gaining access to the entire MLS structure. Both which are protected by our privacy laws. When you hire an agent, wether you are buying or selling that agent has access to all the information you could ever need in order to ask the "informed questions" to satisfy any doubts. Further more the MLS system that we as realtors own and pay for is how we stay more educated than the general public along with the 24 credits we are obligated to take and pay for after fully licensed every two years. It is these credits along with the primary 5 courses (3 primary) and (2 articling) that give us the basic information in order to use the information gathered by our system correctly. The most important factor in using this information correctly is simply experience and everyday involvement in the market place. An agent who produces with-in his/her board can put all aspects of the current market conditions along with information and actually use it correctly. The final sentence/comment is probably the most contradicting of all "I don't want to pay for REP'S access to info - I want to pay for their knowledge" - well when you hire an agent you are paying for their knowledge as well as experience not to mention 7 days a week service which is made possible by fully understanding the information gathered by the MLS system.

    I just want to leave this with one final question. If you had access to everyone's medical history (which is really a direct comparison) not to mention your own, could you actually do anything with it? Could you actually practice medicine? Could you self medicate yourself with prescription drugs? We all know the answer is NO because the knowledge, years of education and most of all experience is not there therefore allowing the inevitable harm from "misinterpretation". Keeping the sales history in the hands that are qualified, educated and experienced to use it is the only way to keep both sides - buyers and sellers or in other words the general public safe as anyone can sell their own property or buy a property. Where would the market be if all the sales history was misinterpreted? Don't you think that all would suffer potential? is that not part of the definition of catastrophic? One would have to think so.

    Just my 2 cents - if you are going to make a comment. At least make sure it's an educated one that makes sense.

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