Commentary: Open information will ultimately benefit the real estate market

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The prevailing environment of secrecy concerning home sale price data is actually making the Canadian real estate industry more complicated and prone to risks than necessary, observers argued.
 
In a December 18 column, The Globe and Mail editorial board argued that the industry’s preference for keeping this information hidden is stifling competition and innovation in the housing sector.
 
“Who does the secrecy benefit? Certainly not the public,” the analysis stated. “Information is what makes markets work. The more information, the better for buyers, sellers and the health and efficiency of the market itself.”
 
“Anyone with the time and inclination can wander down to the nearest civic or provincial land registry office to look it up. But that is extremely time consuming. So why not make sale prices, which realtors have access to, freely available online to everyone else?”
 
And while the digital age has made searching for properties far easier, the current gaps in the knowledge available to the public domain makes it difficult for the relevant authorities to mount effective interventions.
 
“The delayed reaction from governments to the vertiginous rise of the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets provides evidence of what can happen in the absence of comprehensive public data,” The Globe and Mail added.
 
“There are easy and straightforward ways to maintain the privacy of sellers and buyers, but the fact is real-estate transactions are and must remain a matter of public record in this country. Canada’s real-estate market needs more transparency, not less.”


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  • Kevin on 2016-12-21 2:28:37 PM

    The issue that you are ignoring is who owns this information? Your comment that "why not make sale prices, which realtors have access to, freely available online to everyone else?” assumes that this information is owned by the public. But the MLS system was developed, maintained and is paid for entirely by Realtors. Demanding that this information become "public record" is like demanding that Google make every citizens searches public record! How would you like it if every search you made on Google was available to your employer or neighbour? So the larger issue that Realtors are fighting is ownership of their collective data and balancing that with the inherent right to privacy of individual property owners.

  • Gully Bull on 2016-12-23 5:43:47 PM

    incorrect

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