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Is more information from the real estate board helping new home buyers?

Last Updated Nov 18, 2019 at 8:28 am EST

It’s been more than a year since the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) lost its bid to keep key information about homes sales restricted.

Last summer, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected an appeal from TREB, ending the organization’s long battle with the Competition Bureau, who argued it was engaging in anti-competitive practices. Now information like the transaction history on a home you’re interested in or how much other houses in the neighbourhood have sold for is more easily accessible online. It was a major win in the push for transparency in the industry.

But how much of an impact has it really had on the market?

Ross Walsh and his wife have been on the hunt for a new home for the past six months. They’ve enlisted the help of a real estate agent, but say that websites like Zoocasa have been instrumental in helping them understand what the real picture is of the house.

“Initially we were looking at certain areas that we thought we could afford based on the listing prices, but then when we see what houses actually go for, that gave us a bit of a reality check,” Walsh said.

Realosophy president John Pasalis, who helped lead the charge in getting the data publicly released, said it hasn’t threatened the jobs of real estate agents who are often still needed. But it has led to better practices.

“The consumer does have a lot more information,” Pasalis said. “They can kind of raise the bar in terms of expectations of what their real estate agent is doing.”

Despite the ruling, TREB still maintains that making the data public infringes on privacy. But RE/MAX agent Paul Raposo said it’s not an issue he’s encountered so far.

“In the past we were able to advertise after we sold the property. With permission of the home owner, we were allowed to advertise the selling price of the property,” Raposo said. “Now everyone has access to those numbers and figures and why shouldn’t they. We’re not here to hide things from our customers.”

There could be more changes on the horizon. Earlier this year, the provincial government sought public feedback on the laws governing real estate professionals in an effort to increase consumer protection. In light of that feedback, the minister of Consumer Services tells CityNews they are considering changes to those laws.