In the wake of the Competition Tribunal’s verdict earlier this year that ordered the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) to open its sales data to the public, industry players and analysts have stepped up their calls for greater transparency in housing data.
Market observers noted that openness in real estate information would bring the industry up to 21st century standards.
“Information is power,” Toronto real estate agent and blogger David Fleming told CBC News
. “Being informed is key in this market.”
In July, the TREB said that it was appealing the Tribunal’s judgment. Via its legal counsel, the Board has even sent a cease-and-desist letter to the website torealestatesold.com earlier this month.
New challengers to the TREB’s monopoly of information continue to emerge, however.
“People have a million questions about the house that they're buying: the building permit cue on the street, the legal uses on the property, the hazards,” according to Terry Moshenberg, co-founder of the start-up firm Hometrics. “In a positive way, it's a disruptive technology.”
Moshenberg noted that Hometrics fulfills the vital function of collating and packaging data that would otherwise be difficult to gather for buyers and real estate agents. Among these crucial bits of information are local crime rates and the quality of nearby public facilities (hospitals, schools, and others).
The executive admitted that such a market role is very much in its infancy, though, and that it will take time for the industry to fully accept the existence of data access firms such as Homemetrics.
“There's always someone in the room who will say, ‘Wait a minute, that's way too much information,’” he stated.
Cease and desists letter sent to agent sharing sold data
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