Consumers and Brokers One Step Closer to Increased Competition in Toronto’s Real Estate Market
The Competition Bureau today welcomes the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) decision dismissing an application by the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) seeking leave to appeal a February 2014 Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) decision that ordered the Competition Tribunal to reconsider its ruling in the Bureau’s case against TREB.
In May 2011, the Bureau filed an application with the Tribunal challenging restrictions that TREB has imposed on its members’ use of data in the Toronto Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system. In its application, the Bureau sought an order prohibiting TREB from enacting, interpreting and enforcing rules, policies and agreements that prevent or impede the entry of innovative business models. The application specifically sought to prohibit TREB from imposing restrictions on its member agents who want to use the Internet to serve customers more efficiently.
While the Tribunal dismissed the application against TREB in April 2013, the Bureau successfully appealed the decision before the FCA, which ruled in February 2014 that the Tribunal’s decision was based on an overly narrow interpretation of section 79 of the Competition Act – the “abuse of dominance” provision. As a result, the FCA ordered the Tribunal to reconsider the Bureau’s case on its merits.
The SCC’s decision today means the Tribunal must now proceed with its reconsideration of the case.
- With approximately 39,000 members, TREB is the largest real estate board in Canada. The majority of local real estate transactions make use of the Toronto MLS system, which is an essential tool for agents to help customers buy and sell homes. It is much more detailed than what is available on public sites, such as REALTOR.ca.
- The Toronto MLS system contains data about previous listing and sale prices, historical prices for comparable properties in the area, and the amount of time a property has been on the market.
- While agents can provide valuable MLS listing information to customers by hand, mail, fax or e-mail, TREB is preventing its agents from providing similar information to customers in an online environment.
“We welcome today’s decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that denies TREB’s application for leave to appeal. We continue to believe that prohibiting TREB’s anti-competitive practices and allowing real estate agents to provide the services of their choice is the only way to ensure that consumers and real estate agents alike can benefit from increased competition for residential real estate brokerage services in the Greater Toronto Area. Today’s decision brings us one step closer to that goal.”
John Pecman, Commissioner of Competition
Tribunal Application: Commissioner of Competition vs. Toronto Real Estate Board
The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.
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