National real estate association to ask its members to widen access to MLS

National real estate association to ask its members to widen access to MLS

Earlier this week, the Competition Bureau said the Canadian Real Estate Association's control of access to MLS 'limits consumer choice' and prevents real estate agents from being more 'innovative' in their services.

Earlier this week, the Competition Bureau said the Canadian Real Estate Association’s control of access to MLS ‘limits consumer choice’ and prevents real estate agents from being more ‘innovative’ in their services.

Photograph by: Reuters files, .

OTTAWA — The Canadian Real Estate Association will ask its members to bow to the demands of the Competition Bureau of Canada and allow easier and possibly cheaper access to its Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Association president Dale Ripplinger said Wednesday its 98,000 members will be asked to allow agents to list a home on MLS without forcing customers to accept a bundle of other real estate-related services, such as the agent presenting all offers.

Ripplinger said he has had intense discussions with the bureau to address its claims that the real estate industry has become anti-competitive. The changes to MLS are among “the rule clarifications that the commissioner had identified, and we agreed with the commissioner that we would take steps to clarify that rule,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Competition Bureau said CREA’s control of access to MLS “limits consumer choice” and prevents real estate agents from being more “innovative” in their services.

After a lengthy investigation, the bureau announced it would proceed with its case and haul CREA before the federal Competition Tribunal to force an end to the practices.

CREA will ask its members to make changes to rules governing MLS at their annual general meeting March 22 in Ottawa.

If accepted by the membership, a home seller would be able to pay a flat fee to a real estate agent for an MLS listing, without having to sign an agreement for further services from the agent.

“If that rule change is accepted at our AGM in March, which I expect it will, then the answer would be yes (sellers can do that),” said Ripplinger. “We have clarified our rules and told the commissioner that would no longer be an issue.”

The news was welcomed by Donald Hewie, a discount broker from Ottawa, who is one of a handful of agents who has been fighting for the ability to simply list homes on MLS on behalf of customers who do not want to enter into an agreement with a real estate agent.

Hewie said many Canadians are already bypassing MLS and using online services like Grapevine.ca and Bytheowner.com, which charge flat fees of between $200 to $800. He said MLS should be competing with the newcomers by offering similar pricing and services.

“Let the consumer decide which services they want,” said Hewie. “I have had lots of response from people saying they just want the property on MLS. They don’t need me. They have a lawyer, they can deal with the other agent and they don’t need or want me to represent them. CREA won’t allow it. The Competition Bureau wants to allow it.”

Aside from a few discount brokers like Hewie, Canada’s real estate professionals have remained silent on the dispute between CREA and the Competition Bureau.

Several brokers declined to comment on the issue Wednesday.

Hewie said if the rule change is approved, he estimated it could allow home sellers to pay between $400 and $800 for an MLS listing, big savings over the five per cent of the selling price, sometimes split between agents of the seller and buyer, which many brokers charge.

CREA’s Ripplinger said intense competition ensures that there is no such thing as a standard commission within the real estate industry, and he urged home sellers to shop around for an agent.

“I don’t know why it is, but we hear a lot of reports of the fictitious or mythical five per cent,” he said. “We’ve got all kinds of business models and all kinds of choice. The reality is there is no such thing as a normal commission. Right now we are one of the most competitive industries in Canada.”

Ottawa Citizen

Posted via web from Toronto Real Estate News | Blog

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About Tariq Sultan
Dear Readers, I am a dedicated Toronto, Ontario based real estate professional who has been successfully meeting and exceeding the needs of his clients for past several years. I am actively involved in the insurance, financing, and mortgage industry. Real estate is not only my career – it is my passion. I strive to continuously provide my clients with exceptional service to ensure they are fully satisfied when it comes to their real estate needs. For any real estate related inquires contact me today, I will be happy to assist you. Best wishes, Tariq Sultan

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