Skip to main content

Sometimes, the Supreme Court speaks eloquently by what it declines to hear.

Last week, Canada’s top court elected not to grant the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) leave to appeal a Federal Court of Appeal judgment from 2017 that compelled the industry association to be more transparent with sales data.

A seven-year legal battle is thus at an end and it has been resolved in favour of Canadian consumers.

Story continues below advertisement

Home buyers and sellers in the Greater Toronto Area will soon be able to gain access to sale prices via TREB’s multiple-listing service, or MLS, as well as to sales trends, listing histories and data about the transaction volume of specific agents.

More information is always better, particularly when it comes to major financial decisions such as home ownership. Individual realtors have clearly heard the signal; several have already begun posting comprehensive sales data to their websites.

So it is disappointing that TREB’s latest public statements suggest the organization is determined to keep some transaction information confidential. Privacy is being invoked as a fig leaf, even though the Federal Court of Appeal clearly found copyright and privacy concerns do not supersede competition considerations in real estate deals. That ruling is final and TREB should abide by it.

So too should real estate boards across the country that restrict access to MLS data the way TREB did, but are not subject to the court ruling.

For one thing, the federal Competition Bureau will be watching. The agency filed the initial legal action against TREB and, as interim commissioner of competition Matthew Boswell told The Globe and Mail, Canada’s other real estate boards will want to make sure they “are not offside."

Those that are offside should comply with the ruling voluntarily. Doing so will open real estate markets to more players, including discount and virtual brokerages. This should create more competition, spur innovation and may well result in lower fees for home buyers.

Plus, real estate transactions are a matter of public record. Making the information hard to access, especially in the digital age, simply doesn’t make sense.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter