Feb 11, 2010

Canadian media is buzzing with the crackdown on CREA. There are those who feel vindicated and others who feel their livelihoods are under assault. It’s a contentious issue.

A less debatable subject, however, is Canada’s lag behind the US in real estate service offerings for consumers. Canada has little to compete with America’s consumer empowering online real estate tools like Zillow. It’s unknown whether pressuring CREA to widen its access will lead to more innovative real estate products in Canada.

However, this is one of the stated purposes of the Canadian Competition Bureau’s spotlight on CREA. Melanie Aitken, the Commissioner of Competition, said, “Right now we’re focused on trying to get these rules introduced so we can get the kind of competitiveness we’ve seen south of the border.”

Aitken added that, “nothing we have seen from CREA so far brings the choice to the system we’re looking for…Our focus is to get these rules dismantled and introduce choice and flexibility into the system.”

Whether these changes will be enough to usher in a golden age for Canadian real estate innovation is yet to be seen. It’s likely that providing greater access to MLS will enable new types of service offerings, but by themselves, these changes are not an all encompassing solution.

The Canadian real estate industry is still plagued by fragmented and restricted sales data as well as the inability for public websites to aggregate MLS listings as done South of the border by sites such as Trulia, Redfin, and Ziprealty. In order for Canadian Entrepreneurs to effectively compete with their American counterparts, Canada must ensure open real estate data across the board.

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