Will TREB take issue with Zillow?

Canadian real estate attracts interest from around the world, and now American company Zillow has announced that it plans to add Canadian listings early next year. However, that could ruffle feathers with the country’s largest real estate board.

Zillow publishes properties’ sold data, which has been at the heart of litigation between the Toronto Real Estate Board and the federal competition bureau, who sued the former over anti-competitive practice.

John Pasalis, president of Realosophy, a key competition bureau witness during the years-long litigation, says Zillow might not have any problems entering the Toronto market, however, that would be contingent upon its data’s provenance.

“I’d be surprised if they can do it if TREB wins the appeal,” he said. “If TREB loses, then it might be easier for them to do it, because they’ll have a right to, but I still think there might potentially be some issues. But it does depend on where they get their data from.  If they’ve signed an agreement with Teranet or some other source, it’s going to be a lot different than if they get their data from the real estate board.”

Pasalis believes that TREB’s efforts are in vain. Although Realosophy has been prominent in the conflict with TREB, Pasalis says fighting data accessibility is pointless in this day and age.

“They’re waging a war against technology, innovation and where the rest of the world is going, and people want access to information to make smarter decisions,” said Pasalis. “I mean they have it in virtually everything else they do; our governments are opening up their databases and making them public, and I think it’s just a matter of time before TREB does as well.”

Although Zillow doesn’t have firm plans to enter the Canadian market, its announcement certainly suggests intent to do so.

“We know that many buyers in the U.S. are interested in purchasing Canadian property, so we are exploring adding Canadian listings to Zillow,” read a statement released by the company, adding “We don’t have anything to announce right now. This is just something we are exploring.”


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