After launching as a brokerage in 2013, Zoocasa, a Rogers-affiliate, is no more. In an email to its former clients (see below), republished by a number of Twitter users, the company states that as of June 22nd, 2015, it will cease to be registered and “will be prohibited from trading in real estate as a brokerage.”
Zoocasa’s move into brokerage territory raised eyebrows in 2013. Prior to that, Zoocasa published listing data, otherwise only available through the MLS system, via real estate agents. It was an attempt to make more real estate data accessible to the public, much like Zillow’s model in the US, where that information is already public. Many proponents of Zoocasa saw it as a way around what has been characterized as the MLS system’s monopoly on resale housing data.
The early model for Zoocasa ran into legal issues and in September 2011, Zoocasa was ordered to pay $32,000 in damages to two Century 21 real estate agents by the British Columbia Supreme Court because of copyright infringement.
By becoming a brokerage, Zoocasa no longer had to ask agents for the listing data but was able to access the info themselves. However, as of February 2015, the company stopped publishing home sale data to the site after receiving a warning from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), the largest real estate board in Canada.
The company was known for its daily newsletter which published the prices of recently sold homes in the GTA. It announced it would stop sending out the newsletter as of March 4th, 2015.
Below is the letter the company sent out to its clients today:
Many in the real estate and tech industries have reacted to the news as it spread on Twitter, with some describing the issue of resale housing data held by Canadian real estate boards and the MLS system as a monopoly. Others took the opportunity to take a swipe at Rogers:
— Gerry Power (@gerrypower) June 9, 2015
Adios! @zoocasa I guess people are smart enough to know you shouldn’t buy a house through the same company that overcharges you for cable
— Chris Borkowski (@CondoChris) June 9, 2015
— Sandip Dagli (@SandipDagli) June 9, 2015
— Asif Khan (@ReMaxAllStar) June 9, 2015
#Zoocasa is now No-casa. The web-based real estate info website is losing “one million dollars a month for two years”.
— Joey LeBouth (@iamjoey1993) June 9, 2015
Zoocasa shutting down… Trulia / Zillow model didn’t work in Canada clearly.
— John Riche (@JohnRiche) June 9, 2015