Following the Canadian Real Estate Association announcement of new rules that would allow agents to post a client's listing on MLS for a flat fee, the federal Competition Bureau hasn't changed its position that the CREA's rules are restrictive and deter competition.
"There is nothing in these proposals that we haven't seen before and they do not solve the problem," Competition Bureau commissioner Melanie Aitken said in a statement. "They are a step in the wrong direction...These amendments amount to a blank cheque allowing CREA and its members to create rules that could have even greater anti-competitive consequences."
Before the changes, anyone who wanted to post their home on MLS had to hire an agent and pay out a commission to that agent upon the sale of the house. But, as the real estate blog Move Smartly put it, this system led the Competition Bureau to believe the CREA is forcing consumers to accept services they may not want to get their house listed on MLS, which is reportedly responsible for 90 per cent of home sales.
According to the Toronto Star, the Competition Bureau is concerned the wording of the new rules - which says additional Realtor services will be regulated by CREA and local boards - means the latter could also impose their own anti-competitive rules. The CREA has until March 25 to respond to the Competition Tribunal, and the association has already expressed dismay.
"We've done everything we can, short of shutting down the MLS system," CREA outgoing president Dale Ripplinger told the Star before yesterday's vote. "We still have to have some rules in place. I don't think the rules were anti-competitive to begin with, but this is supposed help to make things clearer."
Competition bureau aims to make property listings cheaper