Hypocrisy of the Toronto real estate board is stunning. The board threatened brokers who list sales prices. Their excuse is “privacy”.

If 41,160 members have access to this information and are free to give it to [clients], I don’t think it is private information.” said Fraser Beach, a broker who caved into the demand out of fear he would lose access to the data himself.

I think that the public is well-served if they can do their own due diligence,” Beach says.

Self-Serving Hypocrites Suppress Data

Please consider Toronto Real Estate Board Demands Brokers Halt Online Sales Stats.

This week, three real estate brokers are cutting off customers’ online access to recent final home sales prices — coveted information that can help buyers and sellers gauge a property’s worth.

The trio are the latest to give in to a threat made by the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) to stop doling out home sales information or risk losing a lifeline to all privileged industry data.

Late last night, real estate broker Fraser Beach posted an online alert he called “bad news.”

He explained to his almost 30,000 registered users that he is temporarily halting daily emails connecting them online to the latest prices of homes sold in Toronto.

“In light of recent developments, we fear that making this information available to you, in this form, may be threatening our ability to continue operating as a real estate brokerage,” he wrote.

The broker feels Canadians should have access to sales information online. He believes when Realtors control and selectively distribute the data, they may provide only details that benefit their business, not the client.

TREB gives agents access to recent final sales prices that they can offer to their personal clients. But Canada’s largest real estate board maintains that Realtors cannot widely distribute the information over the internet because of privacy issues.

Battle not over

The battle is waging on another front. Canada’s Competition Bureau goes head to head with TREB at a hearing in May. The bureau wants to break the board’s monopoly over vital real estate information like sales stats.

It’s a test case that could end up affecting other real estate markets in Canada.

Already in Nova Scotia, and for years across the U.S., realty websites publicly post home sales history online.

In the meantime, brokers Beach and Mamourian are determined to find a way to relaunch their services.

We’re going to sit down and find a more creative way to get this information to the public in the future,” says Mamourian.

Beach ended last night’s online alert with the pledge: “Stay tuned … We will be back.”

Fraser Beach Strikes Back

Beach has 30,000 registered users of his site. That sounds like he is doing something right. Are the other brokers a bit envious perhaps? Are prices falling? Sales declining? All three?

Regardless of the answer, in his Good News and Bad News blog post, Beach made an announcement that he is launching a Pay-What-You-Want MLS® listing.

The Toronto Homes Sold report has been distributed as an email linking to all residential listings reported sold on the Toronto Real Estate Board’s MLS® system since May of 2011.

During that time we have received countless expressions of appreciation from our growing list of subscribers now approaching 30,000. But in light of recent developments, we fear that making this information available to you, in this form, may be threatening our ability to continue operating as a real estate brokerage.

We firmly believe that unfiltered information about the real estate market is necessary to fully inform home buyers and sellers. Others say that agents are necessary to “interpret” market information we would use a different word.

But stay tuned … WE WILL BE BACK.

Now the Good News

Today we are officially launching a one-of-a-kind brokerage service … the Pay-What-You-Want MLS® listing.

Our Feeless MLS® Listing is a solution for you to list, promote and manage the sale of your property at a cost determined by you. While other real estate brokerages contract for substantial percentage fees, our mission is to empower our clients to realize more — both figuratively and literally. The price you pay for our MLS® listing, marketing and agency services is completely up to you.

We know, we know … what’s the catch?

Well, there isn’t one. We call it FairFee. If you appreciate and value the service you receive from us we’d truly appreciate your kind consideration.

You see, our approach to real estate brokerage is built on trust – and trust is a two way street. If we are asking you to trust us to represent your best interests, then it’s only right that we trust you to be fair with us.

How Does it Work?

Anyone striking back at the hypocrisy of real estate agencies, especially an insider who sees trust as a two-way street, wants accurate price disclosure, and puts his business at risk while doing so, gets a free plug from me.

Here are details of the Pay-What-You-Want program.

Finally, this is not an endorsement of Toronto real estate, or any real estate. Readers know I believe Canada is in a bubble.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock