Joe Williams is not a popular guy these days with the Canadian Real Estate Association. For three years now, Ottawa’s self-described “most hated” real estate agent has been offering to list people’s homes on the association’s popular Multiple Listing Service for $109. It sounds innocent enough, but that kind of flat-fee service has become a major point of controversy as CREA battles with the Competition Bureau over its control of the MLS site. Under CREA’s rules, only registered agents can list houses on MLS and must represent sellers through the entire home sale process (which usually ends with them receiving a 5 per cent commission). The Competition Bureau maintains that CREA’s system is anti-competitive. And critics say it means home sellers end up paying huge fees for services they don’t need. Williams says he’s never received disciplinary action for offering his stripped-down service, but his name has come up in CREA’s dispute with the Competition Bureau. “Agents just don’t like this model,” he tells the Ottawa Citizen. “They find it hard to compete.” So far, he has 60 homes on MLS and plans to have up to 700 by the end of the year.
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