Under Attack? You Decide!

Under Attack? You Decide!
The Competition Bureau vs. Canadian Real Estate Association

As you may or may not know the Competition Bureau of Canada has been embroiled in a battle with the Canadian Real Estate Association or CREAfor approximately 3 years regarding its Multiple Listings Service®.

Now I am not going to get into how this whole thing started, if you are interested you can read the story that the National Post did on it and get the background you need. What I am going to focus on is the attempt of the Competition Bureau to hijack the Multiple Listing Service that we as REALTORS® have paid to implement and maintain for about the last 10 years or so. I am also going to answer the question of how this will affect my business plan in the future in knowing what has happened in other areas in North America with the same rule changes that the CB is trying to force on us as membership.

The Competition Bureau has come out and said essentially that the MLS® is a monopoly and anti-competitive. I am going to wholeheartdly and respectfully disagree with Ms. Aitken on this point.  Their rationale is that because 90% of all homes are sold through the MLS®, this constitutes a monopoly and therefore the public should have access.

We as REALTORS® are small business people, we operate our own business plans and we are able to charge what we want for commissions as well as the services we will provide. There are certain services that we have to provide as outlined by our Rules and Interpretations, one of them being the presentation of all offers. What the CB is attempting to do is force CREA to open our MLS® to the general public and allow them to post their own listings. As well they want the seller to be able to post their own phone number on the listing so that the "buyer's agent" can contact them directly and submit an offer, thereby taking the "listing agent" right out of the equation.

We have something called Transaction Brokerage(used to be Dual Agency) in our industry which means that as a seller if you agree to be represented in this capacity, I as your REALTOR® can represent both parties, the buyer and the seller. There are fiduciary duties that I am obligated to uphold to both the buyer and the seller in this situation. If the CB gets their way with this, what happens to Agency? What happens to Confidentiality? What happens to Disclosure? What happens to the seller of the home when they don't have the professional and experienced advice of a REALTOR® to lean on?

Most of the general public are not aware and I am sure a lot of REALTORS® are not aware of the changes that happened in the US in 2005. The US Justice Department sued the National Association of Realtors(NAR)on anti-trust grounds because discount brokerages as well as internet brokerages were not getting the same access to their MLS. They were able to settle 3 years later and as a result, according to NAR 80% of all sellers use a full service brokerage, 11% opt for the bare minimum of just listing on the MLS and 9% choose limited services that include discount brokerage.

The CB is missing the point when it comes to organized real estate in Canada and that is that these business models already exist! The major difference is that when a REALTOR® in Calgary lists your house for $695, they are still obligated to be present when all offers are presented, and they are required to help the seller through the negotiation process! Why wouldn't you want that as a consumer?

As you can guess I am obviously opposed to what the Competition Bureau has in mind for CREA and its 98,000 members. So what does this mean for my business plan if the CB has their way? I may tweak a few things here and there but there will not be any major changes to my business model of providing exceptional customer service to my clients and having the experience to guide them through the buying and selling process(sorry shameless plug there!).

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding! Most people that are looking for services whether it is to get their car fixed, their home renovated, the yard work done, or their home sold,

Kelley Skar-REALTOR®
Sutton Partners Realty Group

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Data supplied by CREB®’s MLS® System. CREB® is the owner of the copyright in its MLS® System. The Listing data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by CREB®.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.
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