You Can Now Find Out What Houses in Your Neighbourhood are Selling For in Mississauga

If you've had difficulty accessing home sales data in the past (meaning you can easily find out what a nearby home was listed for, but not what it actually sold for), that might change.

The Competition Bureau recently applauded the Supreme Court of Canada's (SCC) dismissal of the Toronto Real Estate Board's (TREB) request to appeal a December 2017 decision from the Federal Court of Appeal that would allow its members to freely disclose home sales data online.

The bureau said the recent decision will allow greater competition and innovation in the real estate services market in the GTA, and concludes seven years of litigation in the Bureau's case against TREB.

What this essentially means is that a years-long debate over whether or not consumers should have easy, online access to data regarding home sales prices and other neighbourhood trends has come to an end.

Prior to the dismissal, TREB was fighting to keep such data in the hands of realtors who can access the MLS database. In order to access that data, consumers have traditionally had to consult with realtors or brokers or pay a fee to a third-party service.

Realtors were not able to freely post the data online.

The order requires TREB to remove restrictions on its members' access and use of real estate data - including restrictions on the display of historical listings and sale prices online through virtual office websites.

"Today's ruling is a decisive victory for competition, innovation and for consumers. By removing TREB's anti-competitive restrictions, home buyers and sellers in the GTA will now have greater access to information and innovative real estate services when making one of the most significant financial decisions of their lives," said Matthew Boswell, Interim Commissioner of Competition, in a news release.

TREB said it respects the ruling and hopes that protecting the personal information of buyers and sellers remains paramount.

"The Toronto Real Estate Board respects the Supreme Court of Canada's decision to not grant leave to hear TREB's appeal. The Order of the Tribunal will come into effect in 60 days time, unless it is modified," John DiMichele, CEO, TREB, said in a statement.

"TREB believes personal financial information of home buyers and sellers must continue to be safely used and disclosed in a manner that respects privacy interests and will be studying the required next steps to ensure such information will be protected in compliance with the Tribunal Order once that comes into effect."

The Bureau's case against TREB had been ongoing since 2011.

The Bureau points out that the 416/905 area is one of Canada's most expensive and least affordable housing markets.

Recent data reveals that the average selling price of a home in Toronto has gone up from $485,520 to $782,129 since the Bureau began its litigation against TREB.

The average sale price of a detached home sold through the TREB MLS is now more than a million dollars.

The Competition Bureau says the ruling is a win for consumers.

"Removing these anti-competitive restrictions is expected to give home buyers and sellers in Canada's largest real estate market access to a greater range of innovative service options, delivered through greater competition among TREB's members," it writes.

"Opening up access to real estate data allows member agents to offer insights into home sales prices and trends via the web, and to improve the efficiency and quality of their services to consumers."

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