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Friday, July 8, 2011

Open MLS wider, watchdog says

CANADA - The Canadian Competition Bureau has slapped Canada’s largest real estate board with a lawsuit, saying they must open up their computerized listing service and make the market less competitive.

The federal watchdog served the Toronto Real Estate Board with papers late Thursday. The aggressive move comes on the heels of a proposal by the board last month to allow websites that will allow consumers to browse listings from the privacy of their homes using a password provided by an agent.

That was what the Competition Bureau wanted to see, since it would allow customers to browse at their leisure and do much of the work themselves instead of hiring an agent to do it all. Less work for the agent should effectively lower fees.

However, after studying the proposed new rules, the Competition Bureau said the changes still were not enough and the proposed rules would in fact “continue to thwart the development of new, innovative and efficient models of providing real estate brokers seeking to innovate".

In theory what is really needed is to open the MLS wide up and make it FREE to search the listings, without a password.

But TREB is refusing to go that way, and thus the new amended lawsuit was still being reviewed by executives.

TREB owns and operates the Toronto Multiple Listing Service system through which the vast majority of Toronto real estate deals are made. Its basically a monopoly and because they charge people huge fees to use it the result is an unfair monopoly.

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