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The Toronto Real Estate Board has confirmed it will allow its members to publish the selling prices of properties on their websites by Oct. 22 at the latest, and it expects other boards to change their practices as well.
But TREB will continue to monitor how its 50,000 brokers and agents are using sold information.
On Tuesday, the board issued its first explicit response to its members on how it will proceed after the Supreme Court dismissed its application to appeal an earlier ruling by the Competition Tribunal. That ruling said TREB must allow its members to post sold data on their websites as long as consumers have a password to access the information.
TREB looking to ‘protect’ home sales data, despite realtors already posting it
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Supreme Court dismisses real estate board’s appeal application on sold data
TREB’s question-and-answer missive came after some realtors complained that the board had failed to provide direction to its members days after the court decision and the decision by some of their competitors to immediately post sold information.
Pickering broker Michelle Makos, a former TREB director, took to social media Monday to criticize the board’s silence. TREB, which issued a brief statement Thursday, should have provided detailed information to its members last week, she said.
“I’m just disappointed in the way this has all come out. They should have been prepared. We should have had more information readily available,” said Makos. “I can’t believe they would just leave everyone hanging.”
“Save for one email that was sent to the membership the day after the announcement it’s been radio silence,” said Bosely agent David Fleming on Monday.
The court dismissal is considered the end of the road for TREB’s seven-year battle against the commissioner of competition to keep sold information off the internet. The commissioner argued TREB was acting against consumer interests by restricting the use of sold data online, hampering industry competition and innovation.
Consumers will have to sign in to a broker’s website to find the selling price of properties. One brokerage, Zoocasa, that offered open access to the information Thursday, has since added a registration requirement to see selling prices.
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TREB also said it will review the consent language in its homebuyer and seller agreements to see if consumers can opt out of having the selling price of a property published. It will also review the length of time brokers can keep photos of properties posted online once a home has sold.
“The (sold) information can only be used for the purpose of engaging in residential real estate brokerage services,” said the board, adding it will take legal action against anyone who uses the information for commercial purposes.
But preventing the selling price data from being sold or used outside the broker-client relationship remains a concern, said a lawyer for the board.
“TREB is studying that issue and remains concerned especially about pending sold data and use other than to provide residential real estate brokerage services,” said Brian Facey of Blake, Cassels & Graydon, in an email.
The industry regulator, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), also issued a reminder Tuesday that agents must still comply with Ontario’s real estate act, which does not allow them to advertise selling prices with the location or names attached to a property without the written consent of the buyer and seller.
Bosley Real Estate vice-president Christan Bosley said she was disappointed but not surprised TREB was slow to respond to the court decision. But she said her firm was among those who were prepared and are now posting sold information.
“In my opinion, if you’re a small brokerage that’s depending on the services provided by TREB, it’s short-sighted,” she said. “If you’re running a brokerage you should be prepared for the inevitable, and I think that the brokerages who are on their toes saw this coming some time ago and ensured they had the resources to make it happen immediately.”
Tess Kalinowski is a Toronto-based reporter covering real estate. Follow her on Twitter: @tesskalinowski