Everyone’s calling the Supreme Court decision to reject the Toronto Real Estate Board’s appeal a game changer, and they’re right. There are a number of reasons why the resale market is better off this way.
TREB fought a seven-year battle to keep sold data private. Now, real estate agents and brokerages are allowed to publish sold data on their websites. It only took a few hours after the Supreme Court decision for brokerages to start sharing data.
Honestly, I think this is great news.
I believe it is crucial for homebuyers to do their research before making one of the biggest decisions of their life. If you’re buying a car or a fridge, you’re going to do your research. You’re going to compare prices and look at all the tech specs. If you’re buying a used car, you’ll do as much research as you can to learn the history of the car. Why shouldn’t you know the sales history of a house you’re considering?
Some people think TREB was fighting this to keep real estate agents relevant because if you wanted any details from the MLS listing, you needed to enlist their services. If you told me you think you no longer need a real estate agent just because you have access to sold data, then I’d tell you you’re wrong.
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.
And to those real estate agents who are scared of this game changer, then you weren’t playing the game right in the first place. If you relied on sales history to get and keep clients, then you weren’t providing your clients with the services that they really need you for.
I also think it will be interesting to see more realistic asking prices. One strategy in the resale market is to price low to get attention and then end up selling for tens to hundreds of thousands over asking. Since homebuyers will be able to find the sales history, it could deter this type of behaviour.
Another strategy is to take down a listing and relist it at a later date. Listings show how long a property was on the market, but taking it down and relisting is like hitting the refresh button. Sellers and their agents do this because some people view a long period of time on the market as a bad thing. Buyers also see it as an opportunity to lowball, thinking the sellers are willing to agree to less to get the deal done. Now that everyone can see past listings, this strategy doesn’t work.
Overall, I can see this potentially lowering the average selling price in the Greater Toronto Area, which is apparently something a lot of people are hoping for, according to a recent study from Angus Reid Institute.
A more transparent housing market will help buyers make better decisions, and that’s a win in my books.