Photo: James Bombales
Detailed information about Toronto’s home sales might soon be available to the public. On Friday, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld a lower court decision ordering the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) to make its home sale data open to the public.
The ruling is the latest development in a case that began in 2011, when the Competition Bureau sued TREB for restricting the ways its member agents could release data from its MLS.
It’s not a done deal yet — TREB now has 60 days to seek leave to appeal its case to the Supreme Court, and TREB CEO John DiMichele has said the board plans to do so. But the ruling is another step towards the information being available to the public. So what could that mean for Toronto’s real estate market?
“My feeling is that, once this information eventually becomes public, which I think it will, it will be business as usual [in Toronto],” Toronto-based realtor Ralph Fox told BuzzBuzzNews. “When you look at the States, they’ve had this information public for quite some time, and you don’t see agents doing any less business because of it.”
Fox isn’t the only Toronto industry player who thinks that the data being made public will be much-ado-about-nothing.
“A release of information is not a threat to our profession,” Zoocasa CEO Lauren Haw told BuzzBuzzNews. “When you look at the States, where this kind of information is available, they’ve actually seen their number of agents grow in the past few years.”
Haw says that publicly available data will make for a more educated client base, and that that’s a good thing. She also says that the information will allow her company, and others, to provide a more detailed market analysis to clients.
“Right now, we’re excited about how we can use analytics to interpret the data for our users,” says Haw. “The numbers are one thing, but you need to interpret them, and that’s a service that we can provide.”
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Instead of dealing in broad averages, Haw says that her company would be able to use the data to break down Toronto intersection-by-intersection, providing clients with detailed information about their potential new neighbourhood.
“We’d really be able to get to the meat of the numbers,” she says.
Fox only has one concern about the potential move — for him, it’s all about timing.
“The only thing that is concerning to me is when in the sales process the data becomes available,” he says. “I don’t believe it should be made public until a deal is closed, because that information remaining private during a deal is key to its success.”