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Finance: More Transparency Coming To Toronto Real Estate Market

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Finance: More Transparency Coming To Toronto Real Estate Market

Canadians will now have greater access to real estate sold prices in Toronto. In August the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the Toronto Real Estate Board’s (TREB’s) appeal to an earlier federal court decision that accused them of anti-competitive practices by the Competition Bureau.

This means all homes and condos listed on the MLS and sold in Toronto will be readily available without the need of a password or engaging an agent.

TREB’s major argument was concern around copyright and privacy. They said putting all this data online publicly would be problematic.

In a statement released after the Supreme Court refusal, TREB CEO John DiMichele said “TREB believes personal financial information of homebuyers and sellers must continue to be safely used and disclosed in a manner that respects privacy interests and will be studying the required next steps to ensure such information will be protected in compliance with the Tribunal Order once that comes into effect.”

This is a first for a major real estate board in Canada, but has been going on in the U.S. for more than 10 years. Here’s what to expect.

Better Informed Client

When working with a real estate agent, sellers and buyers will no longer have to ask them for comparative sales in the area. This is the best way to understand what a home’s market value is. When putting their house on the market, sellers can arm themselves with the latest data. Buyers as well can make offers with confidence as they will have been able to research the area they are looking to buy in on their own.

Agents Can Provide Better Service

Realtors serve a key role in the real estate transaction. They serve their client and make sure they get the best deal and guide clients through the process. For sellers they can help determine fair market value for your home, they arrange open houses and find potential buyers. Often, they have a roster of potential buyers they can show the house too as well.

For buyers, agents are often subject matter experts in the areas they service — knowing the history of the area and what streets are most sought after. When negotiating they ensure all the checks are done to make sure the home you are buying is being fairly represented.

What Changes Can We Expect?

With data now readily available, consumers can expect to see an increase in websites focused on this information. It’s not just active sellers and buyers interested, but any homeowner wants to know what their biggest investment (their home) is worth. Making data available in a user friendly way could be challenging, especially if a home has seen a number of transactions in a few years. Also making sure data is accurate and up to date is important. Expect to see a number of sites pop up dedicated to providing this information.

No Concern for Realtor’s Role

Those agents with a large client base and established reputation should not worry about their business being affected. The need for a knowledgeable agent, willing to work hard for their clients, will still exist. For those agents who may not have the same level of expertise, they may have to work harder to get up to speed on how they can provide a service to their client, other than regurgitated sold numbers. For those agents there may be a steep learning curve as the market in Toronto becomes more transparent. Looking further this could have an effect on other markets in Canada, especially those next door to Toronto, whose clients will demand the same level of access to sold prices.

Rubina Ahmed-haq is a journalist and personal finance expert. She is HPG’s Finance Editor. She regularly appears on CBC Radio and TV. She is a contributor on CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She has a BA from York University, received her post graduate journalism diploma from Humber College and has completed the CSC. Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney.

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