The refusal of the Supreme Court to hear TREB's selling argument in the field of home sales responds to playing field with brokers

Startups of real estate, some independents and foreign players will reap the benefits of a Supreme Court of Canada move to make publicly available data about home sales.

The Supreme Court of the country on Thursday ended a seven-year legal battle over the spread of house prices by refusing to hear a call from the Toronto Real Estate Board, who had tried to keep the data private.

Now real estate companies can view the sales price of homes in Toronto as long as their websites are protected with a password – a practice that has been permitted in the United States for more than a decade. The change could take away part of a broker's task and make it easier for consumers to go home with sales prices instead of relying on brokers to personally provide them with the information.

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Within a few hours of the announcement of the Supreme Court, real estate agents such as already made the data available to their customers.

"We can provide more and more insight for consumers," said Joe Zeng, co-founder and chief executive of HouseSigma Inc., which was founded in 2016 and uses artificial intelligence to estimate the value of properties in the Greater Toronto Area. "In the past we were not allowed to publicly display the price actually sold, but now we can send the data to anyone who reads our site."

In the course of the lawsuit HouseSigma and other real estate companies periodically published the sales data on their websites or newsletters before they were served with letters and letters from the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trading group, also known as TREB, determines how brokers can display their prices for the sale of real estate and other real estate information.

This has occasionally disadvantaged certain TREB members. Independent real estate brokers such as Right at Home Realty Inc. and Realosophy Realty Inc., complied with the TREB directive and never placed the sales data.

"This makes the playing field level with the websites that did it under the radar," says Ronald Peddicord, co-founder of Right at Home Realty, which distributes 4,000 real estate agents across the Toronto region.

But once all real estate agents and related companies can release the same information, the fierce competition for customers continues.

"Tomorrow everyone will see what a house has sold for," says John Pasalis, founder of Realosophy, an independent real estate agent focusing on Toronto and using data to help homeowners, buyers and sellers better understand the property market of the city. "It's about using data to tell people what they do not know about properties … that's what the real value is."

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Since 2011, TREB has been fighting to keep the data exclusively for brokers because it says that it infringes privacy rights. However, the data is already available to more than 50,000 brokers in Toronto who are allowed to provide the information to their customers.

But these data are often selective. For example, if homeowners want to know how much money they can get for their home, their broker will send them a short list of similar properties and their selling prices. Now the homeowner can look at all the data and make his own comparisons.

Some real estate experts said that the amount of new information could make it more complicated for buyers and sellers, but others said that the public had the right to carry out its own due diligence.

"They can look at the market for a while or look for themselves and come to their own conclusions," said Fraser Beach, who has worked as a broker for more than four decades and has sent several letters that no longer work. for publishing the prices of the home sales on his newsletter and on the website ""

Although Thursday's decision is a major obstacle for Mr. Beach and HouseSigma take away, traditional real estate stores said they are not worried.

"I do not think it will change very much," said Christopher Alexander executive vice president for Re / Max Ontario. "The only thing you have to do is look at the United States … What is very interesting is that broker's use is at a new high The message is that brokers are much more valuable than just knowing for which houses there are sold. "

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The new rules come at the moment that the listing of real estate and brokerage is warming up in Toronto's hot housing market. The British no-commission online realtor Purplebricks PLC and the US-based Zillow Group Inc. have recently entered the Canadian market. "This will be an asteroid bump for Zillow," said Mr. Peddicord. "They will therefore become a major competitor."

With a file from Shane Dingman

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