TREB says it has released disputed real estate data

The Toronto Real Estate Board says it has released sold prices and other real estate data to its members, and will allow them to make it public in accordance with a Competition Tribunal ruling.

But some agents say they have yet to gain access to data they are seeking

Real estate agents in favour of the change argue releasing data such as house sales prices will educate consumers and help them make better decisions. (Graeme Roy/Canadian Press)

The Toronto Real Estate Board says it has released sold prices and other real estate data to its members, and will allow them to make it public in accordance with a Competition Tribunal ruling.

TREB lost its long legal battle to prevent its members from making that information public on Aug. 23, when the Supreme Court turned down its request to appeal a ruling that it must release the data.

The case began when the Competition Bureau sued TREB in 2011, arguing it engaged in anti-competitive practices.

A 2016 ruling from the Competition Tribunal, a quasi-judicial body, found that withholding the data was an anti-competitive practice and ordered TREB to release home sale prices and other information. But TREB fought that ruling through the courts.  

Matthew Boswell, interim commissioner at the Competition Bureau, said in a statement Monday that the bureau will be "closely watching to ensure that the letter and spirit" of a 2016 ruling from the Competition Tribunal is upheld.

The order will give buyers and sellers in Canada's largest real estate market "access to a greater range of innovative service options, delivered through greater competition among TREB's members," the statement said.

TREB issued a statement on Tuesday saying it would be making additional property listing information available to agents beginning at noon to use on their password-protected websites.

This information will include sold, withdrawn, expired, suspended or terminated listing information, TREB said. It reminded agents to comply with privacy laws.

The Real Estate Council of Ontario said sold prices cannot be used in real estate agent advertising without the written consent of both buyer and seller. Offer information also cannot be released, it said in a statement to agents.

But early afternoon Tuesday, some agents said they had not yet gained access to the data they hoped for. 

John Pasalis of Realosophy said his firm had not been sent its login credentials to find the information stored on the MLS service.

"It's been a bit of a rushed process," he said. "We have data feeds with current listings, but we have to login to a completely different system for this information."

As recently as last week, TREB sent cease-and-desist orders to members who were posting prices and home sale history on password-protected websites, threatening to revoke their membership unless they stopped making the information available.

Pasalis got a cease-and-desist order from TREB when he posted information online before Sept. 18.

He said he expects to make available to his clients data such as sold prices, sale dates, historical sales data and information about homes that have been listed and then taken off the market.

Websites such as Realosophy, Zoocasa and HouseSigma want to release this information on a password-protected website, arguing it helps educate consumers about the huge financial purchase they are making when they buy a home.


Susan Noakes

Former senior writer and editor

Susan Noakes was a senior writer and news editor with CBC News. She spent five years at newspapers in Hong Kong and has worked for the Toronto Star and Asian Wall Street Journal. At CBC, she has covered arts, science and business.