Cheat Sheet: TREB Loses Supreme Court Appeal, Here’s What You Need To Know

Canadians are about to get a more transparent real estate market… well, one market. The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) appeal to prevent members from releasing data. The dismissal ends a nearly seven year struggle to get the board to open up information. During this time, TREB argued listing data is their copyrighted information.

The Problem

TREB restricts information like listings history and final sale prices members can distribute. In 2011, the Commissioner of the Competition Bureau filed an anti-competitive claim against the restriction. The Commission believes preventing the distribution of this information is anti-competitive. They further allege restricting how TREB members use information prevents industry innovation.

TREB countered that the information collected and distributed is their copyrighted property. The Bureau ruled that wasn’t the case, and they were in violation of competition rules. TREB was ordered to ease restrictions on the use of membership data.

TREB Loses, Supreme Court Rejects Closed Data

Today, the Supreme Court rejected TREBs appeal to have the bureau’s ruling dismissed. The appeal was kind of a long shot, since the Supreme Courts receives over 600 appeals per year, but only ~80 are heard. TREB is now required to remove restrictions on its members access and use of real estate data in 60 days.

TREB Wants To Release The Minimum Legally Required

Naturally, TREB isn’t thrilled with the dismissal of the appeal. John DiMichele sent us an email to say:

TREB believes personal financial information of home buyers and sellers must continue to be safely used and disclosed in a manner that respects privacy interests and will be studying the required next steps to ensure such information will be protected in compliance with the Tribunal Order once that comes into effect.

Basically, it sounds like TREB plans to review what they’re required to release, so we won’t know for up to 60 days. They’ve now amped up the argument that there may be privacy implications. It’s still unclear if they know the country south of Canada, with over 360 million people, has open real estate data with few problems.

TL;DR No new information until TREB updates their member policy, and they aren’t happy with the decision.

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  • NG 6 years ago


  • Mica 6 years ago

    Can TREB still fight the decision? It sounds like they’re still going to try and restrict information.

  • Ahmed 6 years ago

    Privacy my ass. One of the biggest problems with Canadians is the false belief that what you pay for real estate, is directly tied to your wealth. I spend less than 1% of my income on housing because it’s not a relevant desire to me. But people that spend 80% of their income on a mortgage look down on other people.

    • Contrarian 6 years ago

      Either you live at your parent’s home, live off a partner/spose, live and sleep on the street, parks, shelters, are financially cheating on social assistance, or are very wealthy.

      • Beh G. 6 years ago

        LOL, or it’s a typo?! To to spend 1% of your income on rent these days, at least in the GTA, you have a to be pulling in an income of $720k a year and share a small basement apartment for $600 a month or pulling in $2.4M a year and live in a 1 bedroom condo!!!

        Even if the place is owned and completely paid-off and you’re just dealing with property taxes, maintenance and utilities, for a 1 bedroom apartment, you’re still looking at an income of at least $800k to be at 1%!!!

  • Trevor Stafford 6 years ago

    Finally an answer to the burning, age-old question. “What did that neighbourhood house sell for?”

    • Trader Jim 6 years ago

      I think that’s the problem, people think that’s the issue – only snoops are going to use it. However, it’s the only asset market that most people participate in without knowing what everyone else is paying. It would be like a stock broker trying to buy stocks based on those crappy charts the newspaper publishes.

      • Contrarian 6 years ago

        Another issue is the hidden offer amount which causes price inflation. Property sales are an auction and should be conducted as transparently as one should be like in some other countries.

        • Marc 6 years ago

          CBC marketplace ran an episode on Australia’s auction-style of sales. WAY BETTER, open and transparent. All inspectoins are mandatory and the seller, inspector are liable for evrything written in there.

  • Rob 6 years ago

    Realtor games of artificially propping up the market by creating environment for bidding wars may come to an end forever. With transparency people will make informed decisions on the biggest purchases of their lives .

    you know who TREB represents the “middle man” the person who does not add any value to your home. Just makes more profit if the transaction price is high.

    • Beh G. 6 years ago

      Bang on. That was of course one of the main issues and the other one was that your realtor could share information with you “selectively” which is exactly what happened with us and 4 different agents!!!

      They show you the houses that sold in the neighborhood very selectively to establish a lower value for your house than what it’s really worth, keeping the higher sales “secret”. That practice is definitely over, at least for people willing to do their 2-3 hours of research on a sale worth hundreds of thousand of dollars.

  • Eggs 6 years ago

    Soooo does this mean there will be even less of an argument to use realtors?

    Sales have already been trending down for some time, which has to be hurting realtors’ pockets. I wonder what impact this decision will have

  • Bluetheimpala 6 years ago

    Much bigger implications. These RE boards were originally positioned as regulators and the keepers of the industry. Trust and integrity were key. Being an agent was a professional gig. Unfortunately their greed took over and realizing that more agents = more fees = more mullah led to the current state where anyone willing to sit through some courses and pay a fee can become an agent. People become RE agents just to save on their own transaction! That’s like me training to be a doctor so I can diagnose my ailment; that right there is why people don’t very RE as a profession. It is a side gig. Something uncle tony does to pay for his new benz. Even a lot of the ‘professionals’ are number jockeys who don’t know shit about shit. These boards do not regulate their markets for illegal claims(ever wonder how every agents seems to be 1% of something?). It is all based on other agents ratting each other out..yup, that’s an industry board doing its job, lol! My contacts tell me stories of liars and cheats being uncovered and essentially dismiss TREB/OREA/CREA until the very last string, pay a fee (generally via courses they are told to take) but fines are rarely paid and I’ve never heard of someone losing their license (albeit I don’t know everyone…lol). When the downturn comes and the recession I honestly believe the RE industry will be completely gutted and will not be recognizable in a few years. They did it to themselves. BD4L.

  • Gal 6 years ago

    Great News! No more fiction listings from TRE. We no longer need real estate agents, if we still do we should not be paying more than 0.5% for that useless paper work. Why would they charge 20 times more than a lawyer, where is the logic!

  • SUMSKILLZ 6 years ago

    I like my agent i’ve used over the years. I found her service to be valuable to me. Last hunt(2011), we looked at 50 homes, and she pointed out things I would have missed during walk throughs. There was no pressure to win bidding wars, we walked away from so many. She had a strong professional network to tap into listings too. She also knew her geography and each sub areas pluses and minuses.

    I just wish it was flat fees, or hourly fees, not a percentage senario. I don’t get commissions as a concept. It is no more work to sell an expensive home than an average home, unless you are doing staging, extrangant open houses, multi-channel marketing campaigns.

    Not having Zillow-like sales/comparison data in Canada seems nonsensical to me. There is no privacy, we all call agents and ask what the home on our street sold for ,each and every time. These figures are not secret.

    • Bluetheimpala 6 years ago

      Agreed. A good Professional RE agent will save you thousands maybe even tens of thousands. Especially when you have a unique property or a rural property. Heck, even condos may have bad plumbing and other nuances/knowledge which only a professional would be exposed to and retain. The problem is that these boards have turned their profession into a laughing stock where anyone thinks they can sell RE. The reality is that when times are great any agent will do and make the buying/selling party feel amazing…when times are tough, the good agents will rise to the top and show their worth. I hope and pray TREB/OREA/CREA take this time to re-evaluate how they want to position the services of their agents or ‘sales reps’ as they call them which in and of itself is a fucking misnomer and shows, again, a massive disconnect. I am pro agent but against number jockeys who love the cash but are ultimately no better at RE than my hamster (he is wearing skinny jeans at the moment, in case anyone cares). BD4L.

    • Beh G. 6 years ago

      When you could buy a condo for $100k back in the late 90’s and you looked at condos before you made your purchase, it made sense for the co-operating broker to make $2500 on that transaction with the agent taking a pretty good portion of that.

      But when a 1-bedroom condo is 3 times that price and the amount of work is the same, that same broker and agent have experienced a wage growth of 200% after adjustments for inflation!!! Who else has had that type of inflation-adjusted wage growth?!

      Needless to say the RE industry got completely out of whack from the rest of the economy and reality and it they want to stay relevant outside the good times, the industry’s going to need some serious adjustments in the coming years.

  • Beh G. 6 years ago

    BTW guys in something completely unrelated to this topic, has anyone noticed the eerie correlation between the USD/Yuan exchange rate and Toronto detached prices?

    I just noticed that for the first time yesterday… the meteoric rise from 2014, the crash and the subsequent rise in prices and stabilization as we hit the top of the curve… given roughly a two month lag (i.e. the currency exchange pairing is roughly 2 months ahead of Toronto detached prices).

    Significant since we seem to have hit the top of that curve and are on the the way down which would suggest detached prices will be following that closely, unless the Feds take a more cautious approach in rising interest rates south of the border or the Chinese manipulate the Yuan to keep it lower in order keep their export industry going despite the tariffs.

    Even more significant is that there is 100% correlation in percentage terms when Yuan is rising and prices are falling, but they somewhat decouple in percentage terms when Yuan is falling, meaning an X percent fall in the Yuan increases Toronto detached prices by a much smaller percentage.

    I believe this phenomenon is related to outflow of capital from China… the expectation that the Yuan is about to depreciate increases capital outflows and therefore inflows into the Toronto RE market and others and vice versa when Yuan’s about to appreciate.

    The 2 month lag is interesting because of the usual 60 day closing (when the majority of the funds will be needed or returned) and the decoupling is of course caused by people’s tendency (in a rational market) to be much more cautious with buying than selling.

  • FinPal 6 years ago

    TREB to be middle man is ok, but RE agents must be leashed they are structured mafia who rob us by inflating the market year by year, self evidence within 4 years property prices almost or more than doubled whereas none of other investment options than investment in RE pay you back by this growth, bizarre. It’s good Bank of Canada initiated to control this filthy RE agents game.
    If you compare the RE market with rent affordability vs Job market; absolutely Canada still in danger zone, RE prices must go down to the level of rental affordability or Government should create more jobs to coup up the living cost.

  • FinPal 6 years ago

    Look at other side of the coin: Blood suckers in beautiful gowns
    (1) New home builders (majority listed companies) and
    (2) Banks (listed companies)
    They play a big role to inflate the RE prices, year by year they increase the prices so people compare to the new home buying vs old existing home offer in their neighborhood.
    This is their gluttony to show compounded growth to their management and distribute more dividends to shareholders, but who takes out those dividends foreign investors in our exchange market. Other way around we suffer to bear the affordability.
    If I own a house; temporarily it looks happy to see my property value up, but what will happen to forth coming generation they have to surrender their whole life like in slavery to pay off the mortgage.
    If Government charges more taxes on property still money will be in the country, if listed companies get more profit then money is going out of the country in shape of dividends to foreign investors. This has to be stop.
    1. Price ceiling should be kept on New home builders to control the RE market. (practically very hard)
    2. More land to release for construction (demand is high and supply is less)
    3. Introduce; double the interest rate for second home purchase, triple the interest rate on 3rd home buying and so on.
    4. Make new townships in suburbs with all facilities and highway access.

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