The Toronto Real Estate Board recently issued a statement, ensuring they will be working with their Members to comply with the Competition Tribunal Order.
According to the statement, “The Order allows Members to publish additional information on their password-protected VOWs (virtual office websites) for informational purposes and in the context of providing residential real estate brokerage services. It does not require that TREB make the data in its MLS® System free for resale, nor does it authorize the mining, scraping or monetization of the data.”
That’s an important note that we feel hasn’t been stressed enough. TREB won’t be supplying this data so you or any other business can sell it. Access to the data is to keep homebuyers informed and allow them to conduct the research necessary to make a significant purchasing decision.
TREB also notes that Members must comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002, and also adhere to the Do Not Call List and Canada’s Anti-Spam Law.
This means TREB Members can’t collect a bunch of personal data and start sending spam to everyone. TREB is providing guidelines to its Members on how to not break any of these rules and ensure they are respecting the privacy of everyone’s personal data.
“We will continue to listen to the feedback from Members, and their clients, homebuyers and sellers, regarding their personal information and will take the necessary steps within our power to ensure that privacy laws and TREB rules and regulations are followed,” says TREB CEO, John DiMichele.
There are more than 50,000 TREB Members with access to personal data. It is crucial that the sharing of sales history is done responsibly. The sales history is all a homebuyer really needs for their research, there’s no need to have any personal information on previous owners.
We recently chatted with Ben Myers, President of Bullpen Research & Consulting, and asked him about the Order. He said, “I don’t think the opening of TREB data will impact housing prices, if people really wanted to know the value of homes that have traded near them, there are free sites out there that have published data for years, or like me, they would pay for a subscription to Teranet’s Geowarehouse program. It will just lead to more people trying and failing to sell their home privately.”
Myers makes a good point; people are going to think they can sell or buy their homes themselves, and it’s not going to go well. New Home Buyers Network President, Sam Reiss, commented on this recently, saying:
“Do you know how to negotiate a real estate transaction? Do you understand all the legalese in your agreement? Do you know how to do a comparable? Do you know how to promote your home? Do you know how to stage it? What should you do if your home isn’t selling? How are you going to find the time to go through the thousands of listings that potentially match your criteria? You need a real estate agent.”
Once it’s all said and done, the only thing that’s really changing is you’re going to be able to do some preliminary research and see the sales history of a property without working with a real estate agent, then you’re still going to need a real estate agent.