Will MLS Have to Open Up to Online Competitors?

The war between the Toronto Real Estate Board and the Competition Bureau in Ottawa seems to be heating up. A Federal Court of Appeal recently ruled that an earlier dismissal of allegations by a tribunal last April was in error, opening up yet another door for online competitors to have a shot at the MLS.

The Toronto Real Estate Board claims that it can’t open the MLS listings to online competitors because of privacy issues, while their competitors online say that TREB is just trying to quash competition. Either way, things could change for the better (or worse, depending on what side you’re on) very soon.

Eroding Safeguards or Protecting Privacy?

The Toronto Real Estate Board claims that it can’t release all of the information in the MLS because it contains “pertinent and revealing personal information” that could be misused and abused – even leading to identity theft.

Many experts say that the whole commission is completely unnecessary – if anything, they could release all the information they wanted directly to consumers through the Land Registry System. The records go above and beyond anything in the MLS when it comes to price history on properties, all private sales, new home sales and more. Every real estate in Ontario is in the database, and all of that information could be at consumer’s fingertips within months if they opened it to the public.

What Would Benefit Consumers More?

Knowledge is power, no matter how you look at it, and the more a buyer knows about a property before they really get their hopes up the better.

If you take a quick look at the MLS information displayed on US websites like Trulia, you’ll find out the latest sale price, how many times the home has been sold – all without having to call a realtor. The US has a higher rate of for sale by owner sales, which may be due in part to having access to so much information.

Real estate transaction information is power too, especially when you’re the only ones with access to it. While it may be in part due to privacy reasons, it’s also a great reason to keep the competition at bay. If you can only get detailed transaction information from your realtor or real estate agent, you’re going to have to work through them.

MLS Data Still Restricted

Even after the Toronto Real Estate Board made some concessions last year that opened up some of the information to the public, much of the MLS data is still restricted. Detailed information about sale prices, sale history and land information can be impossible to come by – and while this could be fixed by opening up the Land Registry System to the public, the MLS is still, for some, fair game.

So what benefits consumers more? Should they open the LRS and the MLS for the public, or could that open the door to identity fraud? Is ease of access to information more important that privacy and security?

The Goodale Miller Team is the #1 team in Canada for Century 21 11 years running.  Specializing in Oakville luxury real estate including Lakefront homes, infill building lots, condominiums and more. For a listing of luxury homes for sale in the Oakville area visit their homes for sale page here: http://www.goodalemillerteam.com/Homes.aspx

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