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Report On Business Montreal Real estate agents break away from Canadian Real Estate Association

Montreal housing for sale.

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

The real estate agents belonging to the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board have voted in favour of breaking away from the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The move, which comes just after the Chambre immobilière de Quebec made the same decision, means their listings will no longer be on the Multiple Listing Service or Realtor.ca.

As of Jan. 1, 2014, "CREA will remove all properties from Greater Montreal Real Estate Board members from realtor.ca, but they will remain on Centris.ca," a spokeswoman for the Montreal board said by e-mail. Centris.ca is a rival home listings website created by the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards in 2010, and includes only listings from agents within the province.

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The Canadian Real Estate Association, a national industry group that owns the MLS, has more than 100,000 agents, brokers and salespeople in its membership who work through about 100 separate real estate boards and associations.

Diane Ménard, vice-president of the Montreal board, said in a press release that its decision is confirmation of "a rejection of the status quo." The local board has had disagreements with CREA over a number of issues, including its code of ethics (Montreal argues that Quebec already has the most highly regulated agents and that CREA's code adds confusion) and its new data distribution facility that allows agents to advertise their listings on each other's websites. It also cites "the promotion of properties by out-of-province brokers who are not governed by Quebec's Real Estate Brokerage Act, which puts consumers at risk."

Pierre Leduc, a spokesman for CREA, called the Montreal decision unfortunate.

"Clearly almost half the members who voted want to remain in CREA, with access to the number one real estate site in Canada, Realtor.ca," he said in an e-mail. "Members who wish to remain in CREA have a number of options, including joining some of the remaining Quebec boards. In addition we understand some members are working to create a new real estate board in Montreal with full CREA membership," he said in an e-mail.

CREA puts out national home sales statistics each month using information it garners from local boards. Mr. Leduc said the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards provides CREA with data for all real estate boards in Quebec. "We're speaking with them to determine how to proceed in 2014," he said.

"The Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards will continue to provide data about the province of Quebec, including the Montreal market, just like it does for any organization requesting it," said spokeswoman Véronique Desilets.

There have been some unrelated questions about CREA's data of late. In a research note on Monday, Bank of Nova Scotia economists again voiced skepticism, saying "this is a new data set that tries to seasonally adjust national sales volumes, and while it provides insight into what is happening nationally, our general preference is to put the emphasis on the city-by-city data which are older and more established data sets."

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