Today marks a new chapter in the long fought battle between the Toronto Real Estate Board and virtual brokerages over proprietary past sold data that will better inform real estate buyers and sellers.
The Supreme Court of Canada has announced it will not hear TREB’s appeal to keep such information gated – a stance deemed anti-competitive and detrimental to digital innovation by both Canada’s Competition Bureau and the Federal Court of Appeals.
Both levels of court ruled in 2011 and 2016 that the real estate board must share the information, which includes past asking and selling prices, realtor commissions, and the number of times a home has been listed, and allow it to be utilized by password-protected online brokerages to create property search tools and features. Currently, past sold and comparable home information can only be accessed by real estate agents via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and shared directly with their clients.
A Win for Innovation
That the fight ends today is a victory for buyers and sellers looking to make an informed decision about the market says Lauren Haw, Broker of Record at Zoocasa Realty.
“The Supreme Court’s decision not to grant TREB leave to appeal is a step forward for Canada’s real estate industry. Zoocasa believes that not only will open access to market data empower home buyers to make informed purchase decisions, but agents now have the opportunity to act in a truly advisory capacity as they help clients navigate what is possibly the most important financial decision of their lives.”
The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear TREB’s appeal is precedent setting for other real estate boards across the nation, and will shape the future of real estate data access; in the U.S., firms such as Zillow have free reign to share past sold information on home listings – a feature that has not diminished the agent-client dynamic, a key concern for the Canadian real estate industry.
Agents Will Continue to Be Important
Haw anticipates agents will continue to be an important part of the home buying and selling journey even after the data is shared, as their role extends far beyond simply providing former sale prices.
“By sharing more information, we are able to make for a more transparent buying and selling process. Agents will provide value by interpreting price points, market trends and fluctuating data for their clients,” she said following the Court of Appeal’s 2017 decision.
“Zoocasa’s users are researchers and come to our site looking for relevant information to influence their home purchase – such as school boundaries and rental options. Past-sold data will help them make more informed decisions.”
Keep an Eye Out for New Features
TREB’s argument is that releasing such data threatens the privacy of homeowners, as well as violate copyright, and has been rigorous in preventing outlets from publishing the data despite the Appeal Court’s ruling, prior to the Supreme Court’s decision.
However, now that the Supreme Court has refused the appeal, Virtual Office Websites (of which Zoocasa is one), will have free reign to use the data. Following the announcement, sold data for TREB listings is now available on Zoocasa.
All Zoocasa.com users will be able to see:
- Historical sold prices going back 10 years on current home listings
- Past 6 months of sales plotted on our map search