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Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) must allow greater online access to selling prices, Federal Court of Appeal rules

Access to valuable resale information — such as how much a house sold for — will soon be available to ordinary house hunters, assuming the Toronto Real Estate Board abides by a Federal Court of Appeal dismissal of their appeal of a previous Competition Tribunal ruling.

Last year, in April, the tribunal had ordered TREB to allow wider access to selling prices, commission records and even sale. They were particularly concerned with the use of their system by virtual real estate online sites. TREB appealed the decision. Now, the Federal Appeals Court has ruled against TREB and in favour of the Competition Tribunal.

 

Appeals court ruled in favour of the Competition Tribunal.

 

Long-running dispute

The dispute goes back more than six years. TREB argued that the information on its Multiple Listing Service (MLS) was proprietary and made it available only through an authorised real estate agent. They claimed, amongst other things, that open publishing would be a breach of privacy laws in Canada. The Competition Tribunal dismissed this notion and indicated that restricting the information was anti-competitive and also hurt innovation. Since selling prices and mortgage information is available through the Ontario Land Registry Office, the Tribunal pushed the privacy argument aside.

The Tribunal went further and argued that pending sales and broker commissions must be disclosed.

 

 

Appeals court ruled in favour of the Tribunal

With the latest ruling, the appeals court has dismissed all of TREB’s arguments and cleared the way for greater access to real estate information online.

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