Anti-competitive complaint ‘simply false’, realtors say

Canwest News Service

TORONTO – The Canadian Real Estate Association says allegations it is anti-competitive are “simply false,” according to a legal defence filed with the Competition Tribunal.

The group, which represents about 100 real estate boards across the country and about 98,000 agents, calls an application filed by Commissioner of Competition to be “fundamentally misconceived” and says consumers already have plenty of choice as to how they can sell their home in the marketplace.

Competition Bureau Commissioner Melanie Aitken filed a complaint with the tribunal in February against the group and its use of the Multiple Listing Service, which is responsible for about 90 per cent of the transactions in Canada.

One of the concerns of the bureau has is that, under CREA’s rules, agents are prohibited from offering consumers the option of simply paying a fee to list a home on the MLS system. Consumers have to opt for an entire suite of services that come with a commission rate of about five per cent, though it differs from province to province.

“Contrary to the commissioner’s allegations, the MLS rules do not prevent entry and impede expansion by competitive business models that provide unbundled residential real estate brokerage services,” said CREA in its filing to the tribunal.

The association this past week made amendments to its owns rules which would also allow consumers to conduct parts of a transaction without using a Realtor.

Those changes were immediately shot down by Aitken because they also included a clause that makes them subject to the rules of the local boards and CREA itself, if it chooses to change its rules again.

The two sides have been engaged in a war of words since negotiations broke down in February. The Bureau had been investigating CREA since 2007 and been negotiating with the group since October.

As first reported in the Financial Post online, CREA’s new president Georges Pahud sent a letter to Aitken on Thursday saying that her actions were tarnishing the reputation of his industry. He reiterated that the changes his group made to his rules on Monday should be enough to satisfy the bureau.

Aitken quickly shot down the letter and the idea that CREA’s new rules would do anything to eliminate the impasse.

“As we explained to CREA as recently as last week in a letter to the president, their rule changes this week are inadequate because they explicitly leave open CREA’s ability at any time to reinstate anti-competitive restrictions,” Aitken said. “We continue to believe a legally binding consent agreement or Competition Tribunal decision is necessary in order to achieve a lasting permanent solution that will ensure consumer choice and Realtor flexibility to offer innovative service and pricing options.”

Canwest News Service

gmarr@nationalpost.com

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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