TORONTO – Canada’s largest real estate board must give its realtor members access to more home sales data, which they could share with the public online, the Competition Tribunal said Friday.
The tribunal said the Toronto Real Estate Board must include in its home sales data feed information it currently does not disclose, including sales figures, pending sales and broker commissions. Member realtors can also request access to archived data.
In its decision, the tribunal said realtor members would be allowed to post that information on their websites, as long as users are required to register to access it. Sellers would be permitted to opt out of having their addresses and listings posted online.
TREB has been given 60 days to make the changes. In a statement Saturday, CEO John DiMichele said TREB is examining the tribunal’s order with its legal counsel before making any public comments as the matter is before the courts.
The Competition Bureau said Friday the competition commissioner has been served with a notice of appeal by TREB, alleging that the tribunal erred when it ruled in favour of the bureau earlier this year.
One realtor said under Friday’s decision, some uncertainty remains as to what they can do with the data.
TREB may limit its members to only use the data “directly related to the business of providing residential real estate brokerage services,” the tribunal wrote in the decision.
“That’s pretty ambiguous, actually,” said Ara Mamourian, broker and owner of Toronto’s Spring Realty Inc., adding that it doesn’t differ much from the status quo.
Currently, realtors are prohibited from sharing home sales data with anyone who hasn’t signed a representation agreement with them to either purchase a home or list their property, Mamourian said.
The wording of the tribunal’s decision makes it appear that may remain the case, he said. But he will take the ruling as a green light to once again start posting home sales information on his website, he added.
TREB must also pay more than $1.8 million in legal costs within the next 30 days. If it decides to pass those costs to its realtor members, it must do so equally, the tribunal said.
The order comes after the tribunal concluded in April that TREB prevented competition and stifled digital innovation by prohibiting its realtor members from posting sales data online.
All of the affected parties — the Competition Bureau, TREB and the Canadian Real Estate Association, which has intervenor status in the case — were permitted to make submissions.
The case has been ongoing since 2011, when the competition commissioner filed an application with the tribunal challenging restrictions that TREB imposed on its members.