The Competition Bureau Ruling

11 May 2016
Remax-Condos-Plus

The Competition Bureau Ruling

Many of you already know that the Courts found in favour of the Competition Bureau in a limited fashion against TREB. What does the Competition Bureau ruling mean for the public and for Realtors? The simple answer is not much! Let me explain.

The Competition Bureau wants TREB to provide sold information to the public through VOWs (virtual office websites). They already exist without sold information and many agents have them. Currently ‘solds’ are reported when a deal goes firm.  With the Competition Bureau Order, you will probably find that ‘solds’ will now be reported on the closing date and not when the deal goes firm.

So what does sold information do for a Buyer? Nothing. They can only buy what is for sale. And Buyers have had access to these listings for sale for years.   So these Buyers will continue to need Realtors to find the right property and to negotiate the best deal.

For Sellers, providing ‘solds’ may help those who are trying to sell on their own (FSBOs). But they have got that information before from unsuspecting Realtors who have tried to get their listing. For Sellers who use Realtors to list, they will find that being able to interpret the sold information and answer questions will be even more valuable than before as will require a Realtor.

For Realtors this change will not usher in a wave of new competitors. There are already lots of virtual brokerages and they have yet to pick up any traction. That’s because they still need good Realtors and they attract very few, and those who do work there do not have the skill set of Realtors in big brokerages such as ours.

Finally this change will not bring Zillow into the Canadian market. ‘Solds’ through the Land Title system have been made available to the public for several years. Zillow built their business in the U.S. by being the biggest portal for listings (Realtors there foolishly gave their listings to them for free). Big brokerages in the U.S. are now reclaiming their listings. In Canada, Realtors already own the biggest listing portals in  www.realtor.ca and  www.remax.ca .   Market value estimates provided by Zillow, called Zestimates, are considered a joke by anyone who has even a modest knowledge of the real estate market. What  Zestimates has done is increased the demand by the public for better market evaluations from Realtors themselves.

So there you have it.  The Competition Bureau (your Government) has spent millions of dollars to achieve a pyrrhic victory. While thousands of gas stations change the price of gas at exactly the same time and by the same amount each time, that is not considered as price fixing or price collusion! The lesson to be learned is that Realtors have no professional lobbyist in Ottawa, while every other industry is well represented.