Real estate listing deal opens door for sellers
By CBC News
A deal worked out by the federal Competition Bureau and Canada's real estate industry could mean big changes to the way Canadians sell their homes.
If the agreement is accepted by the members of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), consumers will have a wider choice in the services they purchase.
For instance, if home sellers want to list a house on the online Multiple Listing Service, that is all they would have to pay for. As the rules currently stand, home sellers have to pay for several services, even if they don't want them all.
Roughly 90,000 CREA members are due to vote on the deal at a meeting in St. John's on Oct. 24.
The issue has been a topic of negotiation between the competition watchdog and CREA for three years.
However, the heat got turned up in February, when the Competition Bureau filed an application with the Competition Tribunal that would have forced the association to change its rules.
In March, CREA members approved some rules changes, but the Competition Bureau rejected those amendments.
Ian Bailey, the founder of One Percent Realty Ltd. in Vancouver, said the changes mean hiring a real estate agent would come down to more than just finding someone you like.
"Now there's another option, [they] don't just phone the guy who's been sending calendars," he said. "It's like if you paint your house - you get two or three quotes. You might not take the cheapest guy, but price is one your decision things."
Bailey said some full service companies might be nervous about the changes, because now they'll have to prove they deserve the commission they charge for selling a home.
CREA president Georges Pahud said his organization and the Competition Bureau had extensive negotiations on the issue.
"Both sides gained a better understanding of their respective concerns through our discussions," Pahud said. "We are pleased that a resolution has been reached, subject to member approval."
In a statement issued Thursday, CREA said it has always believed that the MLS system did not "in any way prevent or restrict a broad range of business models."
"In CREA's view, the consent agreement reflects this reality and would avoid unnecessary and expensive litigation proceedings," the group said.