Photo: James Bomabales

A years-long fight to keep GTA sales data from becoming fully public is about to come to an end — and according to some industry experts, it could revolutionize how buyers look for a home.

The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has been fighting to keep data from its Multiple Listings Service (MLS) private ever since 2011, when the Competition Bureau sued it for restricting the ways its member agents could release MLS sales data.

In December, the Federal Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision ordering that the data be made public, which led TREB to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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In a recent press release, TREB CEO John DiMichele writes that, “TREB remains committed to its belief that [releasing the data] would violate consumer privacy laws, reduce the quality of the system, and diminish protection for consumers.”

But what could be gained by making the data public?

“Our stance has always been that real estate professionals should be advisors, not gatekeepers,” Zoocasa managing editor Penelope Graham tells BuzzBuzzNews. “I know the concern is that once [detailed sales data] becomes public, it lowers the value of working with a realtor, but this kind of information has been available in the US for years, and we haven’t seen it diminish the role of realtors there at all.”

It’s a sentiment shared by John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty. “The thing is that this isn’t really private information,” he tells BuzzBuzzNews. “This is information you can get by going to the land registry — it’s just currently more difficult to access it.”

Pasalis says that if the information was to become public it would give businesses like his an opportunity to provide buyers with a more detailed picture of the market.

“Many people are scraping this information together on their own, by going to different websites,” he says. “When it becomes public it will allow us to help with the process of analysing this data.”

Graham says that Zoocasa won’t be launching any new services until the Supreme Court makes it decision, but that the “tech is there” once they get the greenlight.

“When this data becomes available we think it’s going to be a really exciting time,” she says. “We are ready to provide our customers with new data-driven services.”

Pasalis says he’ll be holding off as well. “We’re probably not going to do anything right now until this is all pretty much done,” he says. “But we do have plans for when that happens.”

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