The Supreme Court of Canada announced this August that it will not hear the Toronto Real Estate Board’s (TREB) appeal to keep past sold data for Toronto homes for sale proprietary.
TREB fought a lengthy battle to keep such information private, losing two other court battles in 2011 and 2016, and now, finally, has no choice but to share information which includes past asking and selling prices, realtor commissions and the number of times a home has been listed.
“The Supreme Court’s decision not to grant TREB leave to appeal is a step forward for Canada’s real estate industry,” says Lauren Haw, Broker of Record at Zoocasa Realty.
“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.”
More Info for Buyers and Sellers
Any password-protected online brokerage may now use such information to create property search tools and features, increasing competition between brokerages and assisting digital innovation. That means site users with an account can view the final and previous selling prices for houses, townhomes, and condos for sale in Toronto as well as throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
Zoocasa is one brokerage, for example, that fully plans to take advantage now that the Supreme Court has refused the appeal. Zoocasa listed sold data for TREB listings immediately following this decision. Users can now see historical sold prices going back 10 years on current home listings and the past six months of sales plotted on a map search.
The Role of the Agent is Still Important
Previously, past sold and comparable home information could only be accessed by real estate agents on the Multiple Listing Service to share directly with clients.
TREB, in defence of its position, cited concerns that opening up this information would negatively impact the agent-client relationship. But this has not happened in places like the United States which already have open source data. In fact, having informed prospective buyers and sellers is likely to strengthen the agent-client relationship.
The role of agents goes beyond simply providing information, and agents are valued for their interpretation of trends, analysis of data, specific knowledge of neighbourhoods and other expertise. Most buyers still wanted to be guided through such an important purchase, and having transparency can only help make their home search more efficient.
“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,” Haw says. “Past-sold data will help them make more informed decisions.”