Dec 05, 2017
Competition Bureau wins appeals case in real estate dispute
Transparency is a frequent concern for real estate buyers and sellers. In Ontario, real estate disputes over this issue have caused a court battle between the Competition Bureau and the Toronto Real Estate Board. The Federal Court of Appeal recently upheld a lower court ruling that TREB, the largest real estate group in the country, must provide the public a way of accessing detailed financial data about home sales.
The board keeps a great deal of information about its sales private, including home sale prices and real estate agent commissions. In the current real estate dispute, the competition watchdog is claiming that keeping such information a secret is anti-competitive and does not protect consumers. After a lower court voted in favour of the Competition Bureau, TREB appealed the decision. However, it was upheld by Ontario's provincial system.
Speculators believe that by forcing TREB to share real estate agent commissions, websites that allow for direct seller to buyer real estate sales will increase in popularity. TREB may still seek leave to appeal its case to the Supreme Court of Canada. Real estate agents and brokers are divided over the issue, with some wanting more transparency and others concerned with the effect it could have on their industry.
Transparency and access to information are the basis of many real estate disputes. The results of this decision could affect real estate agents and brokerages across Ontario. Real estate professionals and consumers alike should consult with a lawyer as they undergo the home buying and selling process.