Competition watchdog weighs further action against Realtors

"While I am disappointed that the tribunal has dismissed the bureau's application," said interim competition commissioner John Pecman, in a statement provided reporters, “we will be reviewing the tribunal's decision to determine our next steps.”

That review notwithstanding, real estate agents across the province are now celebrating what they call a victory for home sellers, looking to protect their privacy.

“The Tribunal’s decision was the right decision,” said Ann Hannah, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board.  “TREB and its members will continue to offer the highest possible quality real estate service without sacrificing the privacy rights of consumers.”

It was on Monday that the tribunal dismissed an application brought forward by the commissioner, deciding TREB was not, in fact, acting anti-competitively in blocking direct consumer access to seller information without having to go through Realtors. Those details would also be made available online to homebuyers and made it easier for discount online realties and for-sale-by-owner sites to operate.

That liberalization is expected to continue say supporters of greater alternatives to the traditional real estate sales model.

TREB has stirred clear of much of that debate during the years of legal wrangling, maintaining client protection was at the heart of its objections.

“TREB fought against the Competition Bureau’s actions that would have forced TREB to dismantle the safeguards of the MLS® system,” said Von Palmer, the board’s chief privacy officer.

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