The battle between commissioner of competition Melanie Aitken and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) intensified again as Aitken alleged "personal attacks" in a court filing with the Competition Tribunal.
Aitken does not specify what these personal attacks consist of, the Montreal Gazette reports, but the two sides have been bickering since February when Aitken filed an application condemning CREA's "anti-competitive" behavior, targeting its MLS system in particular. The Competition Bureau filed the application after negotiations dating back to October broke down.
In March, CREA amended some policies in a vote realtors passed by an 87 per cent margin. The changes now allow consumers to list for a flat-fee, without being obligated to use MLS' agents. Consumers can now show their own homes, something that was previously mandatory for an agent to handle.
Aitken rejected the changes. In her latest filing, she said the revisions change nothing.
"CREA's rules continue to prohibit real estate brokers from offering fully unbundled services to home sellers and continue to prevent entry and expansion of alternatives to the traditional, full service real estate model," she said.
The CREA - which consists of almost 100,000 realtors - maintains the changes addressed all of the tribunal's concerns.
"The commissioner of competition has stated in multiple media statements that amendments amount to a blank cheque because new anti-competitive rules could be introduced by CREA or its member boards. In CREA's view, this allegation is preposterous," the association said in a court filing.
The CREA consists of almost 100,000 realtors and, by some estimates, their MLS system is responsible for 90 per cent of housing transactions in Canada.
- Nick Lypaczewski