Canada's Federal Court of Appeal has granted the country's largest real estate board temporary relief from an impending deadline to make home-sales data more widely available online.
In a decision published on the court's website Thursday, Appeal Justice Mary Gleason ruled that the Toronto Real Estate Board would not be required to meet an Aug. 3 deadline issued by Canada's Competition Tribunal to make data such as a home's selling price available to the public over the Internet.
In April, the Tribunal ruled that the real estate board's restrictions on how its members share electronic home-sales data from the Multiple Listings Service was stifling competition and innovation in the Greater Toronto Area's resale housing market. Under TREB's existing rules, realtors were free to share details about the housing market with their individual clients, but were not allowed to publish such data in bulk on publicly accessible websites.
On June 3, the Tribunal gave TREB 60 days to comply with an order that would allow its members – realtors in the GTA – to publish additional details online about the housing market, such as the previous selling price of homes and the amount of commission brokers charged to sell a property. The deadline to comply was set to expire next Wednesday.
The real estate board appealed the Tribunal's ruling and asked the federal court to stay the June 3 order until the court could rule on its appeal. Justice Gleason granted a temporary stay until the court can formally hear TREB's request. The court has not yet scheduled a hearing for TREB's request for a stay or for its appeal.
In its appeal, TREB argues that the Tribunal's ruling violates the privacy rights of home sellers by not allowing them to specifically consent to share details of their home's selling price on the Internet. Federal Competition Commissioner John Pecman has argued that consumers' privacy rights are covered by existing contracts that buyers and sellers sign when they hire a realtor.