CREA wants competition ruling to apply in Toronto only

Monday Mar 20th, 2017



The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) doesn't want real estate boards outside Toronto to be bound by a Competition Tribunal ruling that will likely force the country's largest board to lift restrictions on some property sales data.

CREA has also asked the Tribunal to make sure that the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) can still extract consumers' "informed consent, regarding the wide dissemination of their personal information over the internet.”

The requests were submitted to the tribunal in advance of a hearing on June 2 that will determine how TREB has to abide by a ruling in a case between the country's largest real estate board and the Competition Commissioner.

The tribunal found that TREB had violated competition rules by limiting the release of previous property sales data by online brokerages known as virtual office websites (VOWs).

It is expected that the finding will loosen rules around the release of previous sales information in other parts of the country.

CREA is arguing against that.

"There is no dispute that the relevant market for the purposes of this (tribunal) proceeding is the GTA," it said in a submission released on the tribunal website on Wednesday.

"The Commissioner confirmed that no remedy outside the GTA was sought during opening submissions.... and this was again confirmed during closing submissions and recognized by the Tribunal," said CREA.

Submissions by the Competition Bureau and TREB were not posted by the Toronto Star's deadline.

It also argues that consumers should be fully informed that the sales data on their property could be made publicly available.

TREB should be allowed to take steps to ensure consumers know their property's sales information could be used by VOWs.

"These steps may include creating new policies, forms or amendments to the standard listing and buyer representation agreements," said CREA.

TREB argued at the tribunal that allowing the public access to sales information violated property owners' and buyers' privacy rights.

But the tribunal disagreed except on one point. It sided with TREB in ruling that the release of sales data prior to a property transaction's closing could pose a problem to a seller if, for some reason, the deal didn't close.

CREA also wants the tribunal to avoid favouring VOWs over other innovative real estate enterprises. and "make clear that the Tribunal is not suggesting that the provision of VOW data feeds is mandatory across all local boards and association in Canada who operate a Multiple Listings Service (MLS) system."

It also doesn't want the ruling extended to other areas of the MLS listings such as instructions for brokers that could offer clues when the property is vacant or lockbox access information.


Source: Toronto Star

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