Federal ruling opens door for fiercer competition – analyst

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A recent federal decision has made sales data in the housing industry accessible to the public, which would open the floodgates for intensified competition according to a veteran analyst.
The Competition Tribunal ruled in favor of the Commissioner of Competition, which has argued with the Toronto Real Estate Board for years over the public’s right to MLS information. The TREB, which maintained that free access to this data would be a violation of client privacy, encompasses around 40,000 GTA realtors that would now have to comply with the ruling.
Writing for MoneySense, licensed realtor Romana King argued that while the full effects of the tribunal’s verdict last week remain to be seen, the “democratization” of MLS data would lead to greater transparency and a more streamlined industry.
“While many Canadian real estate agents may not agree, opening up sold data will actually help improve Canada’s real estate industry; competition weeds out inefficiencies and creates innovation— and in a multi-billion industry, that’s welcome news,” King wrote in her May 2 breakdown piece.
The analyst noted that removing the advantage of exclusive access to information, as was the situation prior to last week’s decision, would force industry professionals to adapt to a new environment characterized by readily available home sale prices.
“Access to data won’t be the only market change. Some industry insiders are suggesting that last week’s federal ruling will also help to open up the real estate sector to technological innovation,” King said.
“In recent years some online brokerages were fined or denied access to MLS for sharing too much information. Now, this new ruling would enable these tech-savvy online brokers to offer much more information and analysis about the market to buyers and sellers, possibly giving them a competitive edge,” she added.
While the specifics of how the MLS data would be made accessible to the public remained unclear as of press time, the Commissioner of Competition assured that it is already in the process of ironing out the details to be “released in the near future.”

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