Realtors fight to maintain MLS status quo

The filing comes just a couple weeks before TREB and the commission were due before a competition tribunal for the latest round of an ongoing battle over the multiple listings service and what seller information should or should not be listed there.

The hearing is meant to provide the final word on a simmering conflict begun in 2007 when the discount brokerages complained that their clients were unfairly denied access to all the information Realtors access on the MLS, including sold prices and seller information.

Last March, TREB ramped up its public relations war with the competition commission, ahead of that September hearing, focused on whether to allow buyers direct access to a seller's "personal information."

The problem, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board, is that homesellers would effectively be put at risk with requirements their Realtors include their telephone contact information, along with details about how much they paid for their properties.

“Easy access to information online is a huge safety issue,” Von Palmer, the real estate board’s chief privacy officer, told The Globe and Mail. “There is a real possibility of break-ins and assaults; you only have to read the headlines to imagine what might happen.

"You hear stories about realtors getting attacked and killed. Can you imagine if we put that information out there about consumers? You can only imagine the headlines.”

While Competition Commissioner Melanie Aitken is now preparing to step down, the bureau is expected to continue its fight for greater transparency on MLS.

“TREB is trying to have it both ways as the identical information is routinely provided today by real estate agents to consumers," Greg Scott, spokesman for the Competition Bureau, said earlier this year

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