How would Toronto’s new policies in sales-data impact the market?

Following a seven-year legal battle, Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has finally changed their policy and now allows realtors to post the selling price of homes. However, not everyone is sure this is a good thing, with consumers worried their own information may soon become public. As a result, legislation has been tweaked so that sold data can only be published on password protected websites, but already many believe the move will have long-term impact on the Toronto market.

Informed decisions

Advocates of the policy change include many realtors. A recent article by CBC.ca quotes a blog post by a broker who maintains the decision is one that benefits consumers, as given the size of the investment they’re making, they should be able to have all the financial facts in hand before making a decision. They could potentially be able to access the sales data on their own neighbourhoods, allowing them to make better-informed decisions when it comes to listing their property price. Some argue that posting sales data will also allow for more innovation in the field, as information about transactions that haven’t been closed could be made public.

Lower commissions?

The posted sales data could also directly affect the commission a realtor takes. An article by MoneySense.ca suggests that, should commissions be listed, the customer may have more opportunity to negotiate with brokers, finding those who take less commission on a sale or leading to an uptick in discount brokerages.

A limit on data

Despite the policy change, there are limits as to what kind of data can be posted. The Toronto Star reports that the language of homebuyer and seller agreements may be revised to allow consumers to opt out of having their sale price posted. Additionally, the information, including photos of the property, will only be allowed to remain online for a set period, while users will have to register with the broker’s website in order to view the information. Such safeguards are in place to assure the data is not being used for commercial purposes.

Similar to what’s already done in the U.S.

Despite privacy concerns, industry observers interviewed by The Ottawa Citizen maintain that even if the posting of prices opens the door to the creation of websites that list recent and historical sales data, consumers should not be worried. After all, such sites already exist in the U.S. Given the rules in place the policy change doesn’t exactly seem like a game-changer, but who knows? In a few years, the market may be very different if restrictions are loosened.

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