Toronto home prices-compressed

Photo: James Bombales

A years-long legal fight to keep Toronto home sale data private may finally be over.

This morning, the Supreme Court of Canada said that it would not hear an appeal from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) to keep its members from publishing data from its Multiple Listings Service database.

TREB has been fighting to keep the data private since 2011, when the Competition Bureau challenged the organization’s position, arguing that it hindered healthy competition. In 2017, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld a tribunal ruling that the data should be made public.

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Other industry players have long argued that the information — which includes prices, purchase history and other market trends — would allow home buyers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

“The Supreme Court’s decision [to dismiss TREB’s appeal] is a step forward for Canada’s real estate industry,” writes Zoocasa CEO Lauren Haw, in an email to Livabl. “Zoocasa believes that not only will open access to market data empower home buyers to make informed purchase decisions, but agents now have the opportunity to act in a truly advisory capacity as they help clients navigate what is possibly the most important financial decision of their lives.”

Realosophy president John Pasalis agrees, saying that the data will allow home buyers to better understand the neighbourhood they’re looking to buy in.

“It just provides more transparency for home buyers, they can see the entire listing history of a property, and it just gives them a better understanding when they’re looking to buy a property,” he tells Livabl.

The tribunal’s order is set to come into effect in 60 days, and TREB CEO John DiMichelle said in a statement today that TREB will respect the court’s decision. But not everyone will wait the allotted two months — Pasalis plans to make the information available on the Realosophy website through a password-protected service within the next few days.

“60 days is more about TREB starting to give people an automated data feed,” Pasalis explains. “I think a lot of websites will start making the data public sooner than that.”

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