The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) tried its best to beat back the charge by the Competition Bureau that CREA’s rules that limit the choice of consumers as “anti-competitive”. The Association voted to change the rules requiring agents to represent sellers for the entire duration the property is listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). CREA says the change will address the Competition Bureau’s concerns and provide consumers with the choice of listing a home on the MLS for a flat-fee and handling the rest of the home selling process on her own.

While that sounds like the Competition Bureau has prevailed in its attempt to inject competition, CREA’s proposal is reported to include an escape clause that would allow local real estate boards to enforce their own set of rules. The Competition Bureau lost no time in firing back that the amendments do not go far enough:

“There is nothing in these proposals that we haven’t seen before and they do not solve the problem,” said Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of Competition, “They are a step in the wrong direction. These amendments amount to a blank cheque allowing CREA and its members to create rules that could have even greater anti-competitive consequences.”

The Competition Bureau will now take its case to the Competition Tribunal but CREA can be expected to put up a good fight. It will be a fascinating battle to watch but you do get the feeling that CREA is fighting a losing battle. It is naive to expect that the real estate market will remain immune from the competitive forces that have brought in discount pricing in so many other industries.

This article has 109 comments

  1. A solution already being proposed by industry members in the event the Bureau persists is to vote to dissolve CREA completely, or, alternatively, to opt out of membership in Crea en masse. Many are preparing to do precisely this and are marshalling other boards and board members across the country to do the same pending the outcome of any tribunal

  2. This is the first step of the process to let discount brokerages in the market. Once the discounters aren’t forced to give customers services they don’t actually need, they can really gain some market share. The gravy train has left the station.

    It’s going to be interesting to see the innovative new ways Realtors come up with to sell real estate.

  3. I don’t get it. The aim is to separate the MLS from the Realtors? Is that it? To be able to put your home on the best known (not the best, just best known) website, have buyers call you, and only pay a fee of a few hundred dollars to some realtor, now paper administrator, to do so? Why can’t you do that already?

    Can you not post your home on the MLS today? Yes you can.
    Can you not have buyers or other agents call you already? Yes, you could… if the realtor chooses to use a switchboard system where the buyer calls the office, you enter the MLS# by touchtone phone, and it gets rerouted to the buyer’s phone. Hope they pick up.
    Can you not already pay a realtor $X to do this? Yes, you can… if they choose to offer it.

    Fact is that Miss Aitkens is just going after the heart of a 96000 head Hydra. But you know what? Those heads don’t have much need for the heart and will go about their business. You, the consumer alone, have to vote with your dollars. You don’t want to pay whatever that agent wants? Go elsewhere. Simple.

    Oh, and about getting your home for sale on some website? Realtors commonly say that it’s other realtors that represent the buyer. A very small percent get sold without another agent. And that is what the BIG success of the MLS is. Not some website, but the real work that realtors do behind the scenes to match up buyers and sellers, and then negotiate a successful transaction.

  4. I may be missing something too – I am not an agent and love to save money (however I do think my agent has added more value than I paid in the three or so transactions I have done with him)

    Here is my take… I think if CREA took the risk of creating the MLS database and have made it successful, they should be allowed to market it however they want. At the same time, anyone else should be able to come up with a different idea if they think it is better.

    I understand the effect of monopoly power on markets but I don’t think MLS is a monopoly like say Hydro or the gas company – no, MLS is not a monopoly when alternatives xist such as the world wide web exists and a dozen other sites such as forsalebyowner, etc.

    There certainly alternatives, they just aren’t as good. Making better alternatives is what competition is about – it is not about punishing the innovators

    Maybe the members of the competition bureau are using this issue many Canadians can relate to in an attempt to justify their own cushy jobs (jobs free of any meaningful competition I might add).

  5. This is a step in the right direction, CREA has monopolized the canadian RE market and needs to be stomped. Agents are a huge part of why RE has increased so dramatically, the phantom bids along with ‘buy now, or never’ pitch.

    @jim, not sure where you got your info, but finding your way onto MLS without an agent representing you is like finding a needed in the hay stack, you make it sound so easy. The doors need to open and people need more options, this country is nothing but a monopoly in every sense, RE, wireless, cable, utlities and the list goes on.

  6. Canadian Capitalist

    @Stebner: That’s quite unlikely. The key is access to MLS and how do Realtors propose to have access if they opt out en masse?

    @Jim Pickle, @Rob: The Competition Bureau is *charging* CREA with “anti-competitive” practices at the Competition Tribunal. The submission can be found here:

    It outlines why the CB believes CREA is a monopoly and how it restricts competition in the marketplace. CREA controls the marketplace by virtue of its control of MLS and the CB charges that its restrictions are anti-competitive. Let’s see what the CT has to say when the case winds its way through court.

  7. If the agents add so much value then why are they so scared that someone can list a house on MLS for a flat fee? It’s because they actually add little value. Entering the data into MLS and craigslist, staging a house (which a staging company does anyway, which you pay for out of your own pocket) making a brochures, placing ads, putting a sign up and standing around at an open house and handing out cards (which agents have told me they love because it allows them to find new clients) is not rocket science and costs very little.

    It is the buying agent who brings they buyer and they deserve to get paid for what they do. It makes no sense to pay an agent merely to list your house. And if agents don’t get paid any more for listing then they can do what they are supposed to be doing, which is finding buyers.

    The fact is that in this internet age, the assymetry of real estate information is no longer the case and real estate agents hold fewer cards than they ever did about what is going on in the market. The lawyer does most of the work anyway. And, what justifies the doubling of what a real estate agent makes over the last 10 years in Toronto as house prices have doubled? Has anyone else’s take doubled?

    As for ‘negotiation’ of the deal, which some people appear to think you need an agent for, beyond the tactic of not accepting offers until a certain date and time, the only negotiable aspects are the price (sign it back higher lol), the deposit, what fixtures are included and whether it is conditional on inspection. Any grade-schooler can handle that. The forms are standard. (Why even the real estate course takes a mere few months, $2,000 and can be taken via the internet).

    I don’t mind paying a fee to someone that brings me an offer, but I don’t think the fee should be a % of the sale price, or it should be a low percentage – maybe 1%. I’ll pay for any other services I need (brochures, signs, an agent to stand in my house during an open house, etc.) a la carte and by the hour.

  8. Sean, I understand your feeling that Real estate agents can be overpaid in many circumstances, and I do not disagree with you at all.

    Real estate agents should of course not want competttiion because competition makes margins suffer – right or wrong, that is just a ratiuonale economic response.

    But that is not the point of my comment or this issue – the issue is should CREA be able to market their MLS site (not the public’s MLS site, the site they created and built) the way they want or should they be forced to offer their site in a way (i.e for agents wanting to undercut the vast majority of their customers) that causes them to financially suffer. As a consumer, I love competition, and it is in very short supply in Canada when you look at government, regulatory bodies, health care, banking, telecom, utilities (and ironically competition watchdog agencies, by the way) etc. etc. As a consumer, I would love the lower prices, but I think it is wrong to penalize a group that has spent the time energy and money to develop something better than anybody else. When that happens, guess what, people stop developing and innovating new great things.

    I believe that there are many alternatives for people not wanting to use MLS – they just aren’t that good. If they aren’t that good, than the price paid for MLS is what the market is therefore willing to pay.

    Sean, and CC, and anyone else – I’d be interested in comments that go beyond bitching about how much agents are overpaid, and ask the fundamental question – do alternatives exist? and should CREA not be free to market themselves however they choose? and then of course explain the why.

  9. (Well, I think a certain amount of bitching about real estate agents was in order, lol)

    I’ll put it quite simply: The CREA has created a ‘stock exchange’, if you will, of real estate and it is hard for anyone to argue that they are not virtually a monopoly in Canada. There are alternatives but none of any substance, nor will there be while the CREA has in place anti-competitive rules. It may seem ‘wrong’ or ‘unfair’ to people out there, but once you create a monopoly, whether or not you ‘spent the time energy and money to develop something better than anybody else’, as you say, is totally irrelevant. If you are the only game in town then you must not abuse your monopoly power. That is the law and the same laws are in place all over the world, which is why Microsoft was also regulated so as not to abuse their monopoly power (and the people there used their time and energy to create their company too). So, focusing on the fact that they created it as being the reason that they should not be regulated so as not to be anti-competitive is a non-sequitor.

  10. Canadian Capitalist

    @Rob: It is extremely hard for an MLS alternative to emerge because of

    (a) Network effects. Buyers go where sellers are vice-versa.
    (b) Historical pricing and other data. Any new database will not contain historical pricing information.

    So, the answer is that alternatives do not exist and are unlikely to develop for a long time. MLS essentially has a monopoly.

    The issue here is not that CREA cannot charge a fair price for access to MLS. The issue is that CREA uses its control of MLS to restrict the choice available to consumers and to control what kinds of services real estate agents can offer. The Competition Bureau application to the Competition Tribunal explains in detail why it says CREA’s rules are anti-competitive:

    Since CREA has a monopoly through the MLS, it should not be free to use its control to limit the choice available to consumers.

    I can think of an example. Despite Apple’s recent market gains, Microsoft has a virtual lock on the desktop OS market. Should Microsoft be free to use its monopoly to force consumers to buy only its software products to run on Windows? As a matter of fact, Microsoft tried just that and found itself in legal trouble.

    Microsoft isn’t the only one. Many legal monopolies exist but they are often closely regulated. Why should it be different for CREA?

  11. Sean and CC – those are both excellent arguements. I can’t really argue with those points. Thanks

  12. I’ve read many comments by RE folks (in other articles) to the effect of “We’re not forcing you to use MLS or an agent, you’re free to sell your own house”.

    sell it where? MLS has all (90%) of listings, therefore viewers. I’d love to get previous sales info on my house, or neighbourhood houses – oh yeah, you guys have all that. Prices? RE agent.

    Any agents or RE companies that try to offer more info to custumers get shut down by RE boards in a hurry.

  13. I am amazed at the ignorance displayed by the anti-Realtor commentators. The CREA was created to regulate the real estate market in Canada and not to be the administrators of the MLS.
    The MLS system was created to act as a forum for Realtors to share listings with other agents. The MLS was originally in the form of listing books that agents had to search through. Consumers received the benefits of our agent networking and were happy to pay a Realtor for his work. The internet made the agent networking easier and more efficient. Why was it competitive before the internet and now it is anti-competitive with the internet?
    Consumers do have a choice in the real estate market…
    1) List your home yourself with a classified ad in the newspaper as you did before. Try Craigslist.
    2) Pay a For Sale By Owner company to put your home on their website, they get $ 500 whether they sell your house or not. ( Realtors are paid on the sale not the attempt.)
    3) Have your own Open House ( Realtors are insured for any thefts that may occur, you may not be)
    There are also discount brokerages who will gladly sell your home for 1% or a flat fee and give you a spot on the MLS. Discount brokerages offer less service than a regular brokerage, but they cost less.
    The price of houses is not controlled by Realtors with our MLS system and is controlled by the principle of supply and demand. Homeowners are waiting for the market to rise and have reduced the supply of homes available. Buyers want to take advantage of lower interest rates and are creating higher demand. Low supply and high demand equals higher prices.

  14. I am amazed at the ignorance displayed by the pro-Realtor commentators.

    Consumers never really been happy paying the exhorbitant fees charged by agents, but because of the MLS monopoly have not had a choice. It is anti-competitive because of the restrictions put in place by the CREA and the games played by real estate agents (they restrict agents from seeing a house and putting in a bid so they can double-end the deal, they show their buyers houses based on who is paying a higher commission, they won’t show a house if the commission is low, the try to sell the house as fast as they can rather than getting a better price (see the book ‘Freakonomics’ which dedicates a chapter to this), so they can move on, and on and on. Much of this is illegal. The stories my RE agent friends tell me about what really goes on would make your skin crawl.

    Consumers do have no choice in the real estate market…

    1) Listing your home yourself with a classified ad in the newspaper doesn’t really work. We need the reach provided by MLS so that all agents know our house is for sale. Craigslist, which agents use, has nowhere the reach of MLS. Neither to other RE listing websites. MLS is a monopoly and, by law, must now be regulated (sorry – that’s the law! just like for Microsoft, etc)

    2) Paying a For Sale By Owner company to put your home on their website doesn’t have the reach of MLS. Many agents won’t show houses being sold by Sale By Owner companies. Again, a breach of their RE agent duties but they do it all the time.

    3) Have your own Open House. Again, only really works if you get people in the door and you need MLS for this. As for insurance, you can get insurance for this particular purpose if you are not covered. Just call your insurance company. Plus, I’ve never seen an agent follow anyone around the house to make sure they don’t steal something and when I ask them why they tell me “Oh, no one ever steals anything!”, as if that is really true. Happens all the time and often you don’t even find out about it till much later.

    As for the discount brokerages, MLS and the CREA makes life difficult for them. Just google a bit to educate yourself and you will see all the horror stories and lawsuits about it.

    No one is arguing that the price of houses is controlled by Realtors with their MLS system. Of course it is controlled by the principle of supply and demand. But, real estate commissions are artificially high. If they aren’t and RE agents commissions are so fair, good value and wonderful, then none of you have anything to fear by the opening up of the MLS system to flat rate listings and the unbundling of services so that they can be purchased a la carte, now do you? We’ll still all use you the same way as we did before. Or, will we? 🙂

    The fact is, there is little effort that goes into listing a home. RE Agents I know personally tell me this behind closed doors. Beyond collecting the data for the MLS listing, figuring out a price (which changes monthly anyway, so any ‘expert advice’ from years gone by has no real bearing on the current market) entering it into the system, telling you which staging company to pay to stage the house, writing and printing a brochure, putting up signs, holding a few open houses, advertising in the paper, Craigslist and through Canada Post, there is little a listing agent does. (And spare me that this is all so much work and time consuming – 20-30 hours total at most. I actually calculated this for two of the houses that I sold and asked the agent to give me a detailed list of what they did and, surprise surprise, it was about 20-30 hours work!) The rest of the time is spent waiting for phone calls. As for negotiating, the agent does little except decides the date and time at which multiple offers are to be accepted, decides which offering number is the highest and says to sign that one back at a higher price or accept it. Wow, so complicated. The only other negotiable terms are what fixtures are excluded, whether it’s conditional on inspection, the closing date and the deposit amount. This is not rocket science. Aside from the above, No one else has been able to tell me what the other mysterious things an agent does to sell my home.

    I don’t mind paying a buyer’s agent (but not 2.5-3% as this is what I paid 12 years ago and housing prices have doubled but the work to sell a house hasn’t, nor has anyone else’s wages), but this ridiculousness of paying a listing agent 2.5%-3% for simply listing a house has got to stop and it soon will.

  15. The very fact that there is no viable alternative to MLS indicates that it is an unfair monoply.
    Jim states above that I can list my house on MLS.
    Normally a person goes on
    I do not see a link inviting common man to list their house on MLS.
    It is these fine prints which matter. CB has rightly and promptly rejected amendment made by CREA.
    If they are fair, why do they still want to control(even more) the home sales?
    It is their response which indicates that they are not right.
    No need to justify. they have exposed themselves by their action/reaction.
    BTW, most of them not only do not guide but they MISGUIDE clients to make money.

  16. The MLS system doesn’t sell houses… if it were as simple as that, every month there would be a set of new listings. Agent networking is what sells the majority of homes and OUR communication system is the MLS . The MLS system is a communication tool for Realtors and is a closed club. Where was all the non-competition bally hoo when the MLS was contained in the big books we had to search through?
    It comes down to money… house prices have gone up due to market forces, sellers are making more money and commissions have gone up accordingly.
    Commissions are absolutely negotiable and I could sell your house for a flat fee. I don’t discriminate against those folks who offer a token jesture to have me bring my client.
    I have gotten more money for my clients than they will ever pay me in commission.Under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act of Ontario I am required to get my clients maximum dollars for their home.
    B. Minhas… it is illegal and punishable by a huge fine to not present every offer… so you may want to call the Canadian Real Estate Association or the provincial ministry of housing to lodge a complaint.

    If you have a complaint about the ethics of a Realtor, e-mail the provincial enforcement agency that deals with industry ethics.
    In Ontario, is the folks who will punish unethical agents under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act.
    Sure there are lazy agents and they are the small minority that people refer to when slagging the industry.
    We will go back to the big cumbersome MLS listing books of the past, that we won’t be sharing with the public, if this witch hunt continues.

  17. Ya Joe,what ever,but how do you make a complaint about “black listing homes for sale” that do not have a 5 percent chip on it and the bid rigging…..not a “small minority” you all do it ,one way or another .

  18. If it is true that selling a house is easy to do then why do you need the MLS? And it would be a strawman argument to say that the MLS is anti-competitive either because of rules imposed upon realtors or because 90% of all listings/sales are effected through the MLS.

    The fact is that 90% of sellers choose to list with a Realtor. What does that say? This includes many who consecutively pay the likes of propertyguys a fee to: advertise on their web site; stick their sign on the lawn and offer up a ready made fill in the blanks contract. Maybe the CB will be going after these FSBO dealers next to demand they allow sellers to just use their site for posting the property only.

    It is nothing short of ironic that the CB recognizes that the MLS system was conceived of, populated and disseminated by Realtors for the purpose of readily, competitively and efficiently marketing and selling properties for their clients – that is – in the client’s best interests. Yet, underlying the charge is that this very system now runs counter to the public’s best interests.

    In addition, all of the various rules and regulations imposed upon realtors under various codes of ethics and REBBA 2002, have come about for the protection of the consumer mostly because of action taken against realtors by the consumer. I dare say that this is so because consumers demanded more from Realtors than just the “mere posting of a listing” and includes those who preferred to blame someone other than themselves for their own failings. Regardless of how much self-governance the competition bureau may force CREA to give to buyers and sellers, the disgruntled rightly or wrongly will always look to cast blame elsewhere and that would be to the middleman. Collectively Realtors pay the price both in reputation and in insurance costs.

    I am all for a hearing on this matter and if the tribunal rules for the CB, then I would rather CREA dismantle the MLS system because eventually the CB will claim that as long as a Realtor has to be involved in listing a property, the system is still a monopoly. And since part of the issue is not being able to access comparative sales I say to the CB and those of you who side with them – take the land registry and Teranet organizations to the competition tribunal if you’re not allowed access to their neighbourhood sales reports.

  19. PD – It’s not the selling of the house that’s easy, it’s the listing of the house and the work associated with that which is easy. The amount of work on the buyer’s side is (potentially) orders of magnitude greater than on the buyers side. I’ve been told by many agents that they just love collecting listings because it’s the easier of the two sides of the deal and more of a ‘sure thing’. That said, buyer’s commissions are also way to high and having the commission as a percentage of the selling price when house prices have doubled in recent years makes no sense. Who else has seen their wages doubled for the same amount of work in that timeframe?

    In any event, all the resistance on behalf of agents to allowing home owners to list their houses for a flat fee and then being able to purchase other services a la carte is very telling. Thou doth protest too much if your services are of such value and most people will choose not to take advantage of the new rules, right?

    As for the dismantling of MLS, that would be the agents cutting off their nose to spite their face and would not be allowed anyway. Also, that would be tantamount to getting rid of an incredibly valuable asset for nothing.

  20. Sean, respectfully I disagree that the the work involved with listing a property is easy. True, the listing itself is not difficult, it simply requires the completion of paperwork and online forms. Perhaps there are agents who love collecting listings, but collecting them alone does not guarantee they will sell nor the agent’s success, particularly when it is a buyer’s market. It is also arguable that there is more work on the buyer’s side.

    For both the buyer and seller, a good Realtor is performing property history, zoning, by-law and comparative searches and also analyses of the market and neighbourhood . As well, the listing Realtor is spending time in talks about strategy, preparing the property for sale and creating a marketing campaign. It is often because of careful pre-listing work that it appears easy to sell a house where to some it just seems like a sign or an open house and a posting to MLS does the trick. What is never given its due is the amount of time spent before during and after the listing is made – time accumulated toward earning that commission.

    I won’t get into commission percentages with you because there is no set industry fee. But suffice it to say, that whatever the fee, it has to accommodate all of the expenses that Realtors have such as dues, insurance, education, printing costs and advertising the property, brokerage fees, car, gas, equipment, and then leave some as compensation for time spent doesn’t it?

    On the Buyer’s side in today’s world, let’s face it, many buyers do more to reduce the work of their Realtor than sellers can simply by searching properties and visiting open houses before enlisting a Realtor to do the rest.

    If wages have doubled in the same time frame as house prices, then is it not so that sellers have also gotten twice as much money for the same product and that they realize this much partly because their Realtor has negotiated this for them? Essentially what you are saying is that it is fair for a seller to collect twice the property’s value but not fair for the listing Realtor to collect twice the commission amount even though the fee rate may be unchanged. Never mind that the fee itself leaves the seller with at least 95% of the proceeds.

    If homeowners want to list their properties for a flat fee they can find brokerages that do so, no one is forcing anyone to sign a paper for more. At the same token, it is telling that those who are opposed to using a Realtor to sell their properties have no qualms about using a Realtor to buy one – why? Because the shoe is on the other foot you see, they know that it is not they who will pay the fee but the seller.

    So not only do you want the MLS opened to anyone to do as they choose, but you will also demand that its rightful owner, CREA, and the Realtors provide it too. When did capitalism become outlawed in this country?

  21. PD:

    None of the tasks that are involved in listing a house that you described are really that time-consuming or difficult. In terms of strategy and ‘marketing’ campaign I have yet to meet one real estate agent that can describe to me what is involved other than deciding on a price by using comparatives, doing the MLS listing, creating a brochure and flyer to be dropped off by Canada Post, holding a couple of agents’ open houses, placing ads in the paper and craigslist, holding a few open houses and hodling off on looking at or accepting offers until a certain date and time. As for the property history, zoning and by-laws, a title-searcher and lawyer can do that very easily for a few hundred bucks and it it not very time consuming or hard to do. The same goes with ‘analysis of the neighbourhood’ and if you are a real estate agent working the area that should take you about 10 seconds. In any event, prospective buyers don’t really care what the seller’s analysis of the area is since they are already doing that on their own, especially by virtue of the fact they are already looking in the area.

    Also, no one is saying you don’t do this work. We are just saying you are way over-compensated for what are, for the most part, very routine tasks and much of which could be done by the homeowner or paid for on an a la carte basis and possibly by the hour.

    Your expenses have gone up the rate of inflation, yet your commissions have gone up many times the rate of inflation because of the doubling of house prices. That makes no sense at all and is hard to justify. Agents always gloss over this criticism. As for there not being a set fee, the fact agents do everything in their power, all of it illegal, to shun properties where the commission is not the industry standard of 5-6% (in addition to many of the other shady practices they engage in in order to ensure a double-ended deal, etc). So listing your house for a lower commission only ostricizes you from real estate agents. Is this fair? No. (And, oh yeah, tell me it doesn’t happen. It does all the time and you know it). I know we can always sue, report agents, etc etc, but should we have to battle a structure that breeds this kind of behaviour? Methinks not. A better way would be for the rules to be changed, which hopefully they will be.

    As for your comment that agents are partly responsible for the doubling of house prices and that it’s not fair for the realtor to collect the same % of the house selling price that is laughable. We took the risk, not you, of buying the property. Saying we are left with 95% and we should be happy is ridiculous. A 5% cut is way too high. If you sold my house 20 times you’d own it! For the little training you have and the little amount of work you do (we can debate endlessly about this but the public sentiment is clearly against you) you are way over-compensated compared to other professionals. Just because you have had a gravy train up until now, largely because of the illegal and monopolistic practices of the real estate industry and MLS does not mean it should or will continue.

    Odd that we can sell pretty well anything else we want (cars, furniture, etc) but not our own houses.

    As for many of us not having a problem using a buying agent, you are right, we don’t. What does that have to do with over-paying a selling agent?

    As for your last comment, the regulation of monopolies like MLS does not mean capitalism is outlawed. That’s hilarious.

  22. Well Sean, you seem to know a Realtor’s job better than any, yet, I have already outlined what is involved, at least the way I conduct my business – but only seeing would make you a believer. And oddly, you focus on a seller’s market without regard to the quality of service that rises above mediocrity to produce exceptional results.

    Ironically, the gist of your argument as to why the MLS should be opened to the public boils down to this:
    – sellers really don’t need the MLS to list anything, they can do all research for free or
    – they can enlist a lawyer for a few hundred dollars, who will spend “all of ten seconds” finding property history, zoning and by-laws
    – You as a seller, don’t even need the comparables because buyers don’t care since they can do their own search.
    – you can create your own flyer, advertise on Craigslist and send them out by Canada Post.

    Since all of the above is true according to you, then why the fuss about the MlS system?

    Once more and I’ll ask it in a slightly different way– why is it okay for the seller to realize twice the value of his property which is tens of times more than inflation – a value realized in part because of Realtors but a Realtor whose commission lets say was 5% before house prices doubled should now be charging a flat fee plus the rate of inflation?

    You did take part of the risk yes, after all you did purchase the property. Likewise, the majority of buyers and sellers choose to enlist the aid of a Realtor to negotiate on their behalf because of their knowledge and to agree to pay the fees for this knowledge. The Realtor also took risks, the amount of time spent prior to listing, the cost for brochures and advertisements, the cost for education, dues, insurance etc., and last but not least – experience all of which is at no charge to the consumer unless a deal is closed.

    It is public misconception largely because of individuals such as yourself who either have it in for Realtors or who propagate the myth that all Realtors “do everything in their power, all of it illegal, to shun properties where the commission is not industry standard of 5-6%…” I cannot in good conscience state that there is not a minority of Realtors who are less than ethical, but I can definitely state that this is a human behaviour found in all professions and yes – even among the buying and selling public and although it is a behaviour that will never be eradicated it taints our profession.

    I can tell you though that it behoves you as a consumer, before engaging a Realtor, as with any other profession, to qualify that person as ethical; to only sign a contract that inures to your best interests and to report any Realtor who proves to be otherwise to the relevant Real Estate Council.

    You state: “odd that we can sell pretty well anything else we want… but not our own houses.” I know of such rule of law, please advise.

    Using a buying Realtor has everything to do with it, because you see, where you absolutely object to use using a listing Realtor and for the reasons you submit, the same applies on the buyer’s side. The fact is, if it is as easy as you say to sell a house and the listing Realtor renders no service that you as a seller could not find through a lawyer or do yourself, then the same holds true for to the buyer.

  23. PD:

    If you think I am saying that we don’t need MLS then you are misunderstanding me. We want DO MLS as we need it to broadcast to everyone that the house is for sale. This is the same way agents do it. They don’t call every agent to tell them the house is for sale.

    And you are also misunderstanding me regarding comparables. We DO need the MLS database of comparables so we know what comparable selling prices have been. There is no other way to get this information.

    So that’s ‘the fuss’ about the MLS system. It is necessary for people other than real estate agents to sell a home, just like it is necessary for real estate agents. And that is exactly why it has been so successful.

    As for your question: ‘Why is it okay for the seller to realize twice the value of his property which is tens of times more than inflation – a value realized in part because of Realtors but a Realtor whose commission lets say was 5% before house prices doubled should now be charging a flat fee plus the rate of inflation?’ The answer to that is because (as I said above) we invested the money, not you. We took the risk that house prices could go down, not you. We paid the mortage, not you. We maintained the house, not you, and on and on. As such given it is our property and not yours we decide what we want to pay as a commission, not you.

    And the biggest reason that house prices go up is because of natural business cycles, supply and demnad but especially because of low interest rates (and to a much lesser degree inflation). Funny, if agents are so reponsible for house prices increases, they sure don’t seem to be able to do much when prices have gone down, now do they? (but I guess you would argue that they would have gone down further if not for you). Also if you deserve the commission because of house prices increasing so much (an argument none of us buy) then you should deserve a lower commission when they go down. I sure haven’t seen that ever happening.

    You say that ‘the majority of buyers and sellers choose to enlist the aid of a Realtor to negotiate on their behalf because of their knowledge and to agree to pay the fees for this knowledge.’ Actually most people used to do this because of ignorance and becuase there is no other choice. It’s either 5-6% for all the services or don’t list with an agent. Listings outside of MLS are not much of an alternative for reasons I have discussed. Flat rate listings or low commission listings are also not an alternative because of the ostracism of such listings by agents.

    As for the risk a real estate agent takes, there’s not much. You make a commission if you sell and you lose very little if you don’t. The cost of brochures, a few ads, gas etc is very little compared to the commission and if it’s so much, then fine, I’ll pay it myself and pay you a lower commission.

    As for monitoring agents, etc. it’s almost impossible to do this. If the home owner receives all communication and has his name also listing on the MLS listing this will almost eliminate all of these shenanigans that agents engage in to protect their own economic interest but not the buyers. Again, read Freakonomics on real estate agents and you’ll see the hard data that they revealed that proves my point. The way the MLS system is designed only encourages this behaviour. If it doesn’t occur then you should be that worried about the changes that are coming into place.

    As for us not being able to sell our houses of course I meant through the MLS system, on our own and purchasing whatever real estate agent services we want a la carte. We can do this, but not inside the MLS system. You are so against this but at the same time say that your services are so valuable, ecessary and available at a reasonable cost. You are blowing hot and cold because if this is the case, the fact we have more options with the changes to MLS should not affect you, right? We’ll all still use your services the same way we did before for the same commission rate we did before. Why are you so worried?

    As for buyer’s agents, I don’t have as much problem paying them a % commission (but lower than the current 2-3%). But for listing the house? Please.

  24. You are in essence saying you don’t need MLS Sean. This is your argument:

    You don’t need MLS comparables because a lawyer or title searcher can very easily analyze neighbourhoods, search property history, zoning and by-laws for a just a few hundred dollars. Even so, prospective buyers according to you don’t care what your seller’s analysis is so no one in essence even needs any of the above.

    You also don’t need it because people do peruse the likes of Craigslist which is free advertising. They also search FSBO sites, newspaper ads –their web sites and can read for sale and open house signs. And you as a seller can create and distribute via mail as many brochures or flyers that you want.

    Let me cut to chase about the prospect of the MLS system continuing if the tribunal rules that further changes are necessary to open the system to the public because this is what the CB and you do not understand.

    The MLS was created and is funded by Realtors via 2 fees. One fee is paid to the local board to which the listing is posted, another to CREA which distributes it to the net. It is this system that allows the public to gain insight as to trends and competitive values; Sellers would not otherwise have had the exposure that brings more buyers and therefore competitive bids; FSBO’s in a buyers market invariably turn to the system; Both parties benefit from the training, negotiating skills, understanding of disclosure laws, and the ground work a Realtor would undertake: And much more.

    If this were not so, 90% of all sales would not be through a Realtor.

    In 2009, according to CREA 465,251 homes were sold via the system and there were over 98 thousand registered Realtors. For 2010, that forecast jumps to 527,300 or just less than 5.5 per Realtor. That means on average each Realtor has no more than 5.5 homes to sell.

    Currently, discount brokerages are offering sellers the same service the CB says is not being offered for anywhere from $109 to several hundred dollars. Some Realtors are saying they will charge a minimum fee of $1000 if the system is changed, others a fee for service.

    Even at $1000 per listing, 98,000 Realtors cannot make a living much less afford to pay just the two fees mentioned above, after which there is also brokerage fees – so the pool will be severely depleted. Even if this was halved to 49,000 it would prove inequitable. Home sales could double with only 10,000 active Realtors and most still won’t be able to stay in business.

    CREA and the boards would then be faced with a dilemma in order to fund the maintenance of the system – 1) increase fees which will be a further drain on those who remain. 2) charge a fee to the public 3) allow third party advertising 4) any or all of the above 5) sell the system to another monopoly or break it up by franchise 6) fold.

    The likelihood is option 6. How exactly will you be broadcasting to everyone then? Through a plethora of FSBOs?

    Aside from this as I previously mentioned, many of the numerous rules and regulations imposed upon us are the direct result of disgruntled buyers and sellers who complained that we did not act in their best interests. Let’s face it, it is far easier to punish a Realtor via the ruling agency than it is to punish a dishonest seller or for a buyer to admit they were at fault for not doing due diligence. The business of selling real estate started initially as a free for all which because of these changes moved it to an organized profession and the rules of agency were imposed upon us with strict guidelines. That is why the rules are what they are Sean.

    Should the CB allow the sellers and buyers to use Realtors only as a means of posting a listing, the users will have to release the Realtor from any fiduciary duty. Recourse for dishonest practices by sellers and lack of performing due diligence by buyers will be dealt with via the courts at your cost.

    Sean you always speak in terms of most people, yet the statistics prove otherwise. You speak to 5-6% fees, yet the choice is available for anyone who wants to pay far less. You call most people ignorant, yet you are in the 10% minority. Is it really Realtors you are against or the public at large?

    Please don’t tell me what I stand to lose if I don’t sell a property unless you walk in my shoes or speak to my clients first. And if by chance you were a Realtor who failed in the business then don’t lump me in with your shortcomings either. This also speaks to the unnamed agents you claim to know yet who I doubt even know that you supposedly quote them or Realtors whom you have hired because you did not do your due diligence.

    In short Sean, I am not worried about any changes because you see I am a Realtor who chooses to work with clients who, like me, demonstrate integrity, ethics and a business acumen. Those clients no matter how few will not be looking for the fastest way to make/save a buck but the best and most astute way to conduct business in their best interests.

  25. We need to be able to list on the MLS system for a low flat rate because it’s the most efficient, cost effective and best method to let people know our houses are for sale. I think the possibility of the MLS folding is about zero. I think you are dreaming if you think it’s going to fold.

    And you are absolutely right – the number of real estate agents will decline severely as it becomes evident that the easy money can’t be made anymore. The only real money to be made will be as buyer’s agents, not listing agents, and that’s what most agents will almost exclusively become (and I don’t mind paying them for that part of the deal).

    I am glad that you will not be affected by the changes which are coming.

    The money to maintain the largely automated MLS system will come from the low flat rate that houses will be listed at. That will more than cover the cost plus a profit for MLS.

    How much does a broker or realtor pay per house to have it listed on the MLS system, btw? It seems like it must lower than $109 if that Ottawa broker (who is going to be opening in the Toronto area soon) can offer that price, unless he is doing it as some sort of loss leader.

    So, MLS will just have to make sure the flat rate cost that is being introduced is higher than the cost. Seems easy enough!

  26. Sean, it is not that we pay to have each house listed on MLS it is the economy of scale that you are not understanding. Between CREA and TREB the annual fee is $1000 a year. Exactly how much goes toward the MLS system is unknown, but for the sake of argument presume a low cost of $200. That equates to 19.6 million a year. That Ottawa broker will not survive nor anyone else who endeavours to lure the public with such low fees. To maintain that MLS cost he would have to part with over $37 for each listing. Even to make $30,000 a year after MLS fees he would have to list 484 houses per year which has to cover other business costs and provide a living too. And if you by chance think this is a decent salary then the public will have access to no more than 1100 Realtors who will be spending even less time on a client than they are now.

    By contrast Realtysellers’ minimum fee was $500. And believe me if the selling public found their low fees sufficiently attractive to get the job done, regardless of how Lawrence Dale or the CB paint its demise they would still be in business because they would have had a sizeable market share.

    You complain about Realtors now, but what you inadvertently campaign for are people who don’t care one wit about you, about servicing you or your best interest, and they won’t be taking your phone calls after your charge card has been processed because for one they will be busy trying to make extra money at other various professions in order to survive.

    And by the way both CREA and TREB are not for profit organizations.

    As for making money as a buyer agent, forget it! Evidently you haven’t actually read the competition bureau’s complaint. They want buyers to be able to contact and deal with the seller directly and I would think that you, being so opposed to paying a commission fee to list, would welcome the opportunity to not pay said commission to a buyer’s Realtor either.

    Should the CB get its way the general public ought to know what some of the ramifications could be:
    The MLS system will either cease to be owned by CREA, alternatively owned or become government run. Privacy rights will be turned on its head and a whole new avenue for fraud artists will be created including an increase in the less than honest sellers and buyers who will no longer be weeded out and kept in check because Agency law will no longer be imposed.

    The more I think about it the more I believe that this is a smoke screen used by a government agency to rally public discord away from their own bureaucracies which via their HST, land transfer taxes and mortgage insurance rules – all percentages calculated on the sale price of the home by the way – do more to inflate house prices without providing any evidentiary benefit to the homeowner.

    One last thing. When the fed/prov governments decided to impose HST on new construction and Toronto’s elect levied an additional land transfer tax, CREA was right there in the mix lobbying against both. The result was a downward revison of these tax rates. For years CREA has been lobbying for full property rights for Canadians.

    Do you suppose the government has an axe to grind against CREA?

  27. Well….first off, when speaking of limited service or “discount” services has anyone heard of The Property Guys or For Sale by Owners or any of the other multitude of service providers that offer limited services at discount prices?

    There are options, so why is it considered anti-competitive for the “best” service to continue to offer the same business model it has for over 50 years.

    In reality, any changes to the MLS which forces discounted prices for listing-only services will only hurt those entrepeneurs who have found a niche in the “price sensitive” real estate demographic. Not only that, but it will devalue and erode the information currently available on the MLS which is used by thousands of professional REALTORS to help determine market value of properties.

    What would happen if there was no recourse or “punishment” for false or misleading information placed on the system. It would skew property values and cast doubt on any and all information available. On the other hand, if recourse and punitive action remains a potential risk to anyone posting false and unverified information to the Multiple Listing Service, as there currently is, which REALTOR in their right minds would risk such action for a few hundred dollars?

    I, as a professional REALTOR, would not take a “listing only” fee and still have all the liablity for the information and or assertions made in the listing due to advertising, competition, ethics, llegislation and basic agency and fidusciary responsibilities and definitions.

    I spend thousands of dollars each year on professional board fees, errors and omission insurance and ongoing training and I refuse to risk it all for a few hundred dollars. There is already, as mentioned at the start of this blog, an industry to service that segment who want to assume all liability at a reduced cost, so how can the industry as a whole be considered anti-competitive.

    Does government force the large, sucessful car dealers who spend millions each year on advertising and training and monitoring of its staff to allow smaller, unsuccessful dealers or even just the individual who wants to sell his 2001 used car out of his driveway, to place their vehicles on the successful lots for a minimal fee?

    In any case, every industry has good and bad representatives…..I firmly believe that I provide dedicated, professional and beneficial services to people (after all it is about people, not “real estate”) and that my services are valuable and should not be “devalued” by government intervention in such a judiscious and “knee-jerk” reactionary way.

    If the government truly believes in competition, then why would they be trying to force a change that would virtually eliminate the limited service providers that service the For Sale By Owner segment of real estate. It is an obvious enough threat to this segment that the National For Sale by Owner Network (NFN) has made an application with the Competition Tribunal to be allowed to participate in the proceedings.

    The very nemisis of organized real estate and the MLS itself feels threatened by the Competition Bureau’s actions….this alone shows that the very crux of the Competition Bureau’s argument seems flawed.

  28. I think you are a bit late to the argument. MLS & CREA are a monopoly and are being taken to court. As for the other companies you mentioned, well, um, MLS has 90% of the market and those companies are small change compared to the MLS.

    As for ‘why is it considered anti-competitive for the “best” service to continue to offer the same business model it has for over 50 years’ it’s the fact MLS is now a monopoly and anti-competitive that is the problem and that has nothing to do with how long it has been in biz. That’s irrelevant.

    False or misleading info placed on the system can be dealt with pretty easily. Also, no one buys houses site unseen and any such info would be exposed immediately. It’s not like you are buying something from someone far way like on ebay.

    And, I bet, as you state, that you ‘provide dedicated, professional and beneficial services to people (after all it is about people, not “real estate”) and that [your] services are valuable’ but you are WAY overpaid on the listing agent side and you are now being regulated. Sorry, as I said, your gravy train has ended and are now subject to government intervention. Whether you think it is judiscious and “knee-jerk” reactionary way.

    And, as a ‘professional realtor’ (is there any other kind) no one is asking you to take a listing only fee. That’s your perogative. As sellers, though, we want to be able to list on our own ON MLS if we want to. I think your constituency already voted to allow us to do that. The court case will only further cement this right and extend it (be prepared to see this gravy train ground to a halt and actually have work for your money and bring in buyers rather than make money just because you listed the house and the buying agent did most of the work).

    As for your ‘thousands of dollars each year on professional board fees, errors and omission insurance and ongoing training and I refuse to risk it all for a few hundred dollars’ that’s your perogative. I don’t blame you. That’s why you’ll find it only worth your while to become mainly a buyer’s agent. And, really now, how much are these fees per year and how much are they a percentage of the average FULL-TIME real estate agent’s income (pretty small from what I hear from my friends who are also professional real estate agents).

    As for you analogy to car dealers that’s probably not the best one to make LOL given the car salesman poor reputation. They aren’t a monopoly. MLS is. Rules and laws are different.

    As for your commen that you ‘firmly believe that [you] provide dedicated, professional and beneficial services to people (after all it is about people, not “real estate”) and that [your] services are valuable’, they are not as vaulable as you think. The gravy train is over. They will be “devalued” by government intervention in a judicious way. Sorry, but we do have laws about this in this country.

    Government intervention won’t affect the National For Sale by Owner Network (NFN) because they have’t been that successful. That’s because the MLS is a monopoly. See what I mean?

    You need to be regulated. This will cause agents to realize they have to work for a living as buyer’s agents and not make hoards of money just for listing a property.

    Also, if you are so valuable, required and people want to pay you so much money then you shouldn’t be worried by the changes at all. Because, of course, seller’s will recognize this, now won’t they? 🙂

  29. In response to Shawn’s comment’s, all I can say is that for every assertion I made, i backed it up. Every question I posed, I answered.

    I did not pander with smiley faces, trite comments or veiled insults.

    All I am saying is that there are alternatives for sellers should they wish to avail themselves of them. It is ironic that in a booming seller’s market, like now, that there is a proliferation of for sale by owners properties. However, as soon as the boom slows and it becomes a buyer’s market, seller begin to understand the value of the services provided.

    I do not begrudge the service providers currenlty in the market….I must ask how Sean would respond to my analogy regarding the successful car lot. How should the competition bureau deal with the Hakim Opticals, the Wal-Marts or the Honda’s of the world? Should Norman’s Spectacles, Fran’s Corner Store or my grandfather building a go-cart in the garage be allowed to put their products in those stores at a minimal cost?

    In any case, as cheesy as it sounds, I am truly heartened by the hugs, smiles and tears of joy I get from my clients every month. I work a ton of hours for each and every one of them and I care about the outcome. If someone chooses not to use my services, then don’t….that is their perogative, as Sean noted.

  30. Simple. The businesses you listed are not monopolies. I made this point already several times. But, MLS is.

    As for your services, neither you nor any other selling agent has yet been able to tell me what they offer than the tasks that I listed above in my previous post(s). You too remain strangely silent. No surprise because there isn’t much else. Sorry, but all that is not worth 2.5-3%, non-robust or robust market

    As for the hugs, smiles and tears of joy you get from your clients, they should be enough not to worry you that the new changes will not affect you. Or, will they?

    Sorry my smiley faces bothered you so much. I had no intention of upsetting you with trite comments or veiled insults. Sorry you intepreted them that way. I guess this all struck a cord with you.

  31. Oh, and it’s Sean not “Shaun” it’s judicious not ‘judiscious’.

    With all due respect, I hope you pay more attention to providing accurate listings than you did to spelling and grammar on here!

  32. In my opinion, the real estate lawyers are chomping at the bit to take more of the PROFESSIONAL REALTORS’ business away from Realtors, and put more profits in their own pockets. My question is, are Agreements of Purchase and Sale, and Listing Agreements for MLS publication, (both a dual compilation by the provincial Real Estate Authority and a Real Estate Representative/Brokerage), classified as Intellectual Property? If so, then Brokerages could retain the rights to their Listing Agreements and Agreements of Purchase and Sale. Llawyers would have to use their own forms; or Sellers and Buyers would have to pay Brokerages for the rights to purchase forms completed on behalf of each Seller or Buyer, (completed by a Realtor for each property), in order to take over and become DYI’s on the MLS system; and to ensure Sellers’ and Buyers’ best interests, rights, and/or obligations are documented, detailed and protected when producing an Agreement of Purchase and Sale and the numerous other forms that are required in bringing a real property to its sale conclusion.
    It takes Realtors at least 3 – 5 years of education and brutal experiences to “get it right” on the biggest private investments in the world; and many more years and brutal experiences, (including litigation), to perfect our professionalism. As my previous experience was in Real Estate Law in Ontario, I can say that Lawyers have often only dealt with one or two aspects of real estate transactions. The same holds true for DIY’ers (been there, done that, too and never again!!) My experience and advice to DIY’ers and discounters is, “Be Careful What You Wish For” You could lose at lot more than savings on ‘Commissions’. Personally, I think many will be goldfish in shark waters. Good luck.

  33. Wow, what a bunch of real estate agent marketing-speak. I can’t wait until the cartel is broken and I manage the listing end of my sale. I’ll give you agents 1% for finding a buyer. That’s all you are worth.

    3-5 yrs education and brutal experience, lol. It’s a few months course….

  34. I strongly suggest the Real Estate Councils, (such as the Real Estate Council of Ontario, RECO), stop standing aside, as they are the law makers and administrators of Real Estate Law in every province, and get involved in the discussions and tribunal process!

  35. Sean, take the initiation course and the articling course and then go get at least three years experience doing it for others with their, not your, best interests in mind, and then, after all that, provide an intelligent reply. You seem to be spending a lot of your time writing often about things of which you have limited knowledge. Take the courses and get a real estate agent job!

  36. On the contrary, I have a lot of knowledge about this. Competition tribunal and the majority of Canadians agree with me. Sorry, but you just have to accept that. What you guys do is not rocket science.

    Anyway, if what you are saying is true then the new rules that will be enforced upon you shouldn’t scare you as much as it seems to 🙂

  37. @Barbara: So many realtors claim on here that hiring them insulates the seller from litigation. In what way? Whenever I ask this question, it is strangely met with silence. Can you explain please? Thank you.

  38. If I were a Seller or Buyer, I would not hire someone who took a “few months course” and had limited experience. I’d want a seasoned professional, who is required to take a minimum of 24 hours of continual and updating training, and that is after completing what amounts to three years of real estate courses and articling in the field. I’d want someone like that for my biggest investment, especially in this global recessionary period. I would not be a DIY’er (Disaster) when there are Certified Financial Planners, stock brokers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians; and I certainly wouldn’t represent myself in court.

  39. @Barbara,

    And whenever I ask an agent what they will do more than:

    1. Write up the listing (which anyone with half a brain can) and figure out a listing price (pretty easy when you know the comparables).
    2. Prepare the brochure (pretty simple).
    3. Enter the listing on MLS (again, a teenager could do that).
    4. Advertise in the paper (again, pretty rudimentary), or craiglist (do I really need an agent to advertise on CL for me?)
    5. Tell me to stage my house and recommend a company )which I can find easily myself and I have to pay for anyway!)
    6. Handle phone calls (um, I have a phone)
    7. Have an open house (which agents tell me is more to get them new clients than anything else, and rarely sells the house as agents who have a buyer they think will be interested show the house when no one is there on their own)

    Other than all of the above, the agent accepts the offer and ‘negotiates’ the deal, which is pretty basic. The agreement of purchase and sale is pretty standard and the only options really are what fixtures to include, whether it’s conditional upon inspection, and made these days a ‘there are no bedbugs’ clause, lol.

    Anyway, I am not saying a real estate agents services are not worth anything but they are not worth 2.5% on the sale end. It’s the buyer’s agent who is worth paying more to. Also, it’s the same work to sell a $500,000 house as a $2,000,000 house these days.

    Regardless of the above, I should have a choice whether or not I want to list on MLS myself and have MY number on the listing. You may not like it but the more you agents dig in your heels the harder it’s going to be on you when the rules change (which will happen for sure when this makes it to court). You should concentrate on the ‘buying’ end rather than the listing end. Hopefully this will reduce the number of agents out there too.

  40. So, please Barbara, let me know what you do more than the above. Where’s the ‘secret sauce’ you agents all claim to have in being sales agents? Do you drag people off the street and make them buy? No, buyer’s agents bring in the buyers. You just list and wait for you commission.

  41. @Barbara

    Um, comparing you to those other professionals makes no sense. What you are doing pales in comparison with regard to education and what you actually do.

    Anyway, still waiting for what you do other than what I have enumerated above… And, just like when I asked the question months ago – no response this time either. Says a LOT.

  42. Canadian Capitalist – In my experience, even the best R2000 housing insulation is not 100% effective. Whenever you find something (or someone) that is 100% or more effective, you’ve got perfection and an ideal. Even rating systems, (Energuides, R-2000, etc.) state that anything over 80% is “very good” to “exceptional”. I don’t believe a Realtor can prevent or insulate Sellers and Buyers from liitigation. They do, however, employ over 100 years of real property learning and experiences and, legal education, and best practices to mitigate or lessen litigation potential. In my area’s experiences, many claims these days are found to be emotionally-based, not factually-based. Mandatory update legal courses every year hound new and updated legistation into us and every word can have huge legal ramifications. So, most of us are extremely mindful of everything to do with property. If emotionally or factual claims are made these days, many claims are dealt with very simply by the courts, or decided very expediently and do not involve the much bigger dollars of days gone by. Like lawyers in certain ways, Realtors do everything in their knowledge and experience to do their utmost in favour/best interests of their clients, but every case differs at least a little, and every case is not always won, but we offer our best education and experiences to mitigate potentially litigious circumstances.

  43. Sean, I’m not defensive, but proud and caring of my professionalism. Whatever you do, Sean, can you defend your career or life’s work as much and as passionately as most Realtors? Has your professionalism and life’s work ever been challenged as much? I trust and hope not.

  44. Just would like the answer to my question… but i guess there’s nothing more that agents do…

  45. @Barbara: So, I guess the answer to my question is that realtors do their utmost to mitigate litigation. Do you have any studies that show that all that effort is paying off? Are there studies that show homes bought & sold through realtors have less legal issues than homes bought and sold privately? If not, am I correct in my assumption that there is little evidence to back up claims by realtors that they lessen litigation.

  46. @Barbara

    And, what about the study outlined in the book, Freaknomics, that proved that real estate agents, when acting for themselves in the sale of their own home, attain the best possible price, but when acting for clients they try to make sure the sale goes through as quickly as possible so they get their commission. Because, it’s either 0 commission or a nice 5% commission. Keeping the house on the market longer only gives them 5% of any increase in sale price at the risk of losing the entire commission if the house doesn’t sell? Whereas, if it’s their own house the entire sale price, not 5% of it, goes to them (because they own the house). So, they don’t just try to sell it quickly.

    The study proved that agents only act in their own self-interest.

    Enough of agents pulling the wool over people’s eyes and making them think they are getting some magical service and know-how that makes their house sell. Once MLS is opened up, as it should, maybe agents can attempt to find buyers for houses already listed rather than try to make easy money listing houses.

    Barbara is strangely silent and won’t answer any of our direct questions. No surprise there! If she does respond it will likely be more gobbledygook and no direct answers to our direct questions.

  47. Dear Fellow Bloggers: I will be happy to reply to your concerns as soon as possible again, however it will take much time to write up the essay, and right now I am on call again and off to an Offer Presentation. Not that I compare Realtors up there with “higher professionals”, but we are on call 24/7, over-regulated in our opinion, and answerable to at least 30+ people or entities per day! I will respond, but duty to a client calls right now. In return and in the meantime, I would like a summary of why you are qualified to work at whatever it is you do job-wise and why you are worth the money you earn, and worth keeping by either your clients or your employer. Let’s compare notes!

  48. I believe Sean just likes to provoke Realtors – because his saying his questions are never answered the opposite is true. So Sean, I have a challenge for you since you seem to know it all. The following are 3 real scenarios, each different and because you think you know what it takes to sell houses as good as or better than any Realtor, you tell us how you would handle these, specifically, your suggested list price; how you would handle everything concerning the sale of the property and protect the seller’s best interests.

    Assume that any information – statistical or property that a REALTOR would have is also available to you. I will even give you a couple pieces of vital information to assist in each case.

    I doubt you will take the challenge, and the challenge is to you Sean, not the other Realtors. If you respond accordingly, I will make no bones about shaming you for your lack of knowledge.

    First Scenario:
    October 2009, the market is steaming ahead from a depressed previous 9 months where the median price has increased by 10%. Prices are at an all time high and houses in this area are in multiple offers and sell within 3-4 days maximum. Seller calls and tells you he is considering selling his house which he bought 4 years before for just under $350k. Seller currently rents out the basement and upstairs and lives on the main floor. Approximately $80k has gone into the property except the basement and upper units which dates at least 20 years. The house is not legally retrofitted.

    Seller’s house is the smallest on the street. Directly behind the lane to seller’s garage is a public apartment building. The highest sale price for the year on the street was $460k that was new construction and it was not divided into separate units. Additionally, popular neighbourhood streets also recorded a high of $460k for much larger and renovated homes.

    Tell us what you do and how you guide this seller.

    Second Scenario:

    Mid December 2009: Market is still in high gear. Seller lives in another province and owns a condo in an area that is also home to about 5 other buildings – 3 of which are more popular with buyers. Seller’s unit is the largest in this building, has been extensively renovated and is empty. The condo market however in this district is suffering a decrease in price and there are over 100 units for sale nothing is selling for more than $370k. The highest price ever recorded for the same style unit was $366k 1 year before. So far in 2009, the highest price for this style unit was $323k. Highest price for a similar size and reno’d unit in the most desirable buildings are going for about $370k.

    Seller has spoken to about 5 Realtors who live in the building and they have suggested that he can get no more than $360k. Then he hears Sean is a brilliant man with all the answers so he calls you.

    Tell us what you do and how you guide this seller.

    Third Scenario:
    Late May 2010: Condo prices in this particular area are going nowhere. There are numerous buildings and several new projects due for completion by year end. Comparable resale condos in popular buildings are going for under $250K. Townhouses directly behind this building with 1 extra bedroom, a garage, ¼ the maintenance fees are selling for between $250-$300k. There are approximately 14 units for sale in the building mostly lingering for weeks and months on the market. Highest comparable sale price is $257k. Prices are listed as high as $300k for a similar unit.

    Sellers reside in the U.S, they contact you Sean and ask you to guide them as non-residents and tell them what they need to do and know ask you to handle the listing and sale.

    Tell us what you do and how you guide this seller.

  49. Not sure what any of your scenarios have to do with someone selling their own single family home. I am sure there are scenarios where an agent might be required, like maybe one of your scenarios above, but that’s a very small miniority.

    Anyway, realtors are so scared of the new rules coming in. I wonder why? I mean, we sellers are too stupid to represent ourselves and it’s such a difficult task. We’ll just flock to agents like we did before

    or… we will discover there is really no secret sauce… 🙂

    Anyway, still waiting some realtor to answer my questions above. Barbara seems to have disappeared, just like every other realtor, when faced with my question about what else they do other than what is enumerated above, and the Freakonomics data about how agents primarily act in their own economic interest and not the sellers’.

    And if my question was answered, please post where?

  50. @Barbara: You’re completely missing the point. The point isn’t that you don’t work hard. It isn’t that you are not qualified. The point is that some consumers would like to do the work themselves and save a bit on commissions. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to? Why does CREA use its monopoly hold on MLS to force homeowners like Sean buy full service and nothing else?

    @PD: Sean doesn’t want to work as a Realtor. He wants to be able to sell his own home. He might even be willing to hire a Realtor to help him price his home right for the sale but doesn’t need any of the other services. Why shouldn’t he be able to buy just the services that he wants?

  51. Now, now Sean and Canadian Capitalist, don’t get all wishy washy here. You both attack Realtors and charge that we no more ability to sell houses than you would as a private seller. These are three different scenarios and thousands of others exist, it is not as though all or even most owners of single family homes have a cookie cutter scenario – list, sell, pocket the cash – easy peasy. That is where your absolute ignorance about selling real estate comes into play.

    You two think you are so clever claiming that we do little and know little, then put yourself in these sellers shoes and tell us what you would know; find out; and do to sell these properties and protect yourselves. After all CC you did claim this didn’t you?:

    “Enough of agents pulling the wool over people’s eyes and making them think they are getting some magical service and know-how that makes their house sell. Once MLS is opened up, as it should, maybe agents can attempt to find buyers for houses already listed rather than try to make easy money listing houses.”

    And you Sean claimed this among many other things:

    “1. Write up the listing (which anyone with half a brain can) and figure out a listing price (pretty easy when you know the comparables).
    2. Prepare the brochure (pretty simple).
    3. Enter the listing on MLS (again, a teenager could do that).
    4. Advertise in the paper (again, pretty rudimentary), or craiglist (do I really need an agent to advertise on CL for me?)
    5. Tell me to stage my house and recommend a company )which I can find easily myself and I have to pay for anyway!)
    6. Handle phone calls (um, I have a phone)
    7. Have an open house (which agents tell me is more to get them new clients than anything else, and rarely sells the house as agents who have a buyer they think will be interested show the house when no one is there on their own)

    Other than all of the above, the agent accepts the offer and ‘negotiates’ the deal, which is pretty basic.”

    The challenge is now extended to you too Canadian Capitalist. Prove to us that we are not worth our money by showing us that you know what to do.

    • @PD: I don’t care whether Realtors bring value and expertise to their profession (FYI: that comment you quote isn’t mine). That’s between you and your clients. What I want is quite simple. I want to be able to sell my home however I wish. I want the choice of hiring a realtor for the entire transaction, hiring a realtor for some parts of the transaction or list the home on MLS but handle everything on my own. So, I’ll ask this question one more time. Why shouldn’t I have that choice? Why should CREA mandate which services I have to buy?

  52. @Canadian Capitalist – You are dead on. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  53. Canadian Capitalist, please stop playing games and be truthful, will you?

    What you really want is to have the expertise, knowledge of Realtors and full use of the tools that we created for the purpose of trading in real estate at your beck and call to use these as you see fit on your own terms while telling us we can do no better than joe homeowner cum private seller. You want to determine what you should get for free and how little you should pay for all of those things. You want access to all the knowledge we possess – the knowledge that we have studied, learned and honed over years which enables us to sell houses efficiently and effectively, handed over to you so that you have to do nothing but sit back and wait for someone to buy your property.

    Well guess what CC. I have no idea why you parrot Melanie Aitken’s point of view on this, but neither you nor her are able to claim that there are not any brokerages out there offering exactly what you say you want. It was that way even before Realtysellers came along because they were not the first brokerage to offer an a la carte menu of services, and others came along after and also folded because they too could no longer afford to pay their bills.

    You know CC, there are bigger corporations that Ms. Aitken can take on, but she won’t because she would lose:
    I would love to be able to select only the cable channels I want to pay for rather have to pay for channels I never watch because they are bundled. But she won’t dare tackle the telecommunications giants.

    I would love to buy a car and pay for only the features I want rather than pay for a bundle of features just to get a sun roof. She won’t dare tackle the auto conglomerates

    I would love to be able to buy what ever prescription drug I need in the sizeably less expensive generic form. But she won’t dare challenge the mega giants of the pharmaceutical industry.

    I would love to use microsoft windows for the sole purpose of accessing the internet without it deciding for me which bells, whistles and tracking devices it must instal in my computer. But she won’t dare go after that software company.

    But I can, Canadian Capitalist, at any time I want, contact a number of brokerages and tell them that all I want from them is to list my property on MLS and deal directly with the buyers. And if you want this too but don’t know of any, I’ll be more than happy to point you to the Competition Tribunal’s recent ruling that agree with CREA that they do indeed exist.

  54. I don’t want the ‘expertise, knowledge of Realtors’ at all. I want to be able to list on MLS and do my own brochure, determine my own selling price, do my own open houses and have my phone number (not the realtors) on my MLS listing. If I want to use the services of a realtor I will decide when and for what purpose and how much I wll pay. The realtor can then say no if they want to, but I will pay for the MLS listing. I don’t want anything for free. I don’t want access to ‘the knowledge [you] possess’, I am fine without it. I wanted nothing ‘handed over to [me]’.

    Where do I say I want something for free?

    Now would you kindly answer, in my situation, what a realtor does for me other than what I have enumerated many times before? Doesn’t look like it as there isn’t much else.

  55. @PD: Perhaps you ought to go back and read my posts and comments where I clearly expressed what I want. I don’t know how many times I have to say this. I DO NOT want regulation to force Realtors to share their expertise, whatever it may be, for free. I DO NOT want regulation to specify exactly how much Realtors should charge. What I want is the CHOICE to be able to select the services I want and to pay for ONLY the services I want. That choice may exist today but it is only because of the action taken by the CB that CREA amended its rules. But CREA has left open the possibility that it could change the rules again in the future. That’s why the matter is still before the tribunal.

    Assuming I accept your contention that other monopolies exist, it makes no sense that CREA should also be allowed to use its monopoly to dictate what we can and cannot buy. For instance, there are folks who steal cars. That doesn’t mean I can steal a car too. It’s interesting that you should mention Microsoft, which spent years fighting anti-trust allegations in court.

  56. Sean, it is obvious to me that you argue just for the sake of arguing. Not only is it obvious that you know absolutely nothing about what services are available to you, it is also obvious that you painfully unaware that when you hire a brokerage that brokerage works for you and if you don’t want to use the Realtor’s brochure then specify this in your contract. You have the right to do this Sean, just as you have the right to negotiate your fee.

    I am not at all surprised that you avoid taking the challenge since it clearly shows the tunnel vision you havewhen it comes to selling properties especially after relentlessly denigrating our abilities because you feel you can do as good or better a job. That same tunnel vision extends to how little you understand the nature of the various business models offered because your argument begs the question – what do you care if the Realtor produces their own brochure since it costs you absolutely nothing for this or anything else they do unless they sell the property? If you don’t want the sides that come with the entree sean nor pay for them, then go to a no frills buffet.

    CC: I reiterate – you want what is already available and what has been available for some years now and you demand that you be allowed to capitalize on the very system the system we created. But you also want to be able to dictate to the industry what we must offer you and how our services are to be priced and expect that you have the right to hang from the coat tails of our successful venture called the MLS system . Well you can’t have it, just as I can’t dictate to Rogers Cable what channels I want to pay for, or insist that GM sell me a sun roof unbundled from their package of frills that I don’t want, need nor wish to pay for. And neither of these are monopolies in the true sense because I do have alternative companies to turn to don’t I?

    Only when the two of you understand that the math behind the cheap, flat fee, no frills boutiques you so tout cannot provide a livable income to any Realtor or brokerage, nor is it intended to, will you understand why those no frills boutique have short lives.

  57. @ PD: You are correct that I want to capitalize on the very system that your industry created, but if you know anything about competition law, that is a feeble reason for the courts not to regulate your monopoly and open it up.

    You say it is ‘obvious that [I] know absolutely nothing about what services are available to’ me, yet when I’ve asked a few times now in this thread just what other services you would provide to a potential client like me, other than those I have enumerated more than once, but you simply won’t answer.

    That says it all.

    Furthermore, on the one hand you offer your years of education, skill and value-add as essential to the process of selling a home, yet at the same time you are so terrified that little old me will have access to your MLS listing system (with my # on the listing). If what you say is true about what you bring to the table, you should not be concerned at all.

  58. Sean,

    Your coyness is becoming annoying. Is that on purpose? I have told you what services I provide, and I have issued a challenge to you that, you, not surprisingly, avoid taking because you, Sean, have no clue what has/had to be done to effect these sales. These were after all real sellers who, maybe even like you, dreamed they could handling everything themself – or not. Maybe you could possibly one day fit one of these scenarios?

    You have consistently claimed that selling a property is why not take the challenge? I offer this opportunity to you and CC as well for that matter, to actually demonstrate that your arguments against Realtors have merit and that you both know what you are talking about when it comes to what we cand and do provide. Fair?

    Should you choose to take the challenge and respond as asked, I will then indicate the time, knowledge, effort and out of my pocket expense (before the properties were even listed) that went into these scenarios. I don’t expect you to take it but I do love a surprise.

  59. One last thing Sean,

    I am not even giving second consideration to you or anyone else having access to our MLS system, nor for that matter what services you can choose from any brokerage.

    What I do object to Sean is you wanting to live off the avails of a system that thousands of my peers before me created because you think you are entitled to live off of spoils you didn’t even earn and,

    I object to your assumption that you know my industry better than I and other Realtors do. This would be like me telling you how I can do better than you at whatever job you do.

    But Sean, understand this– I could care less if you listed privately because my clientele will be sent your listing even if it only offers to pay me $1.- I do not discriminate, for you see, my buyers if they want my services, must agree to pay me a certain rate for those services and so far none have even raised an eyebrow.

    I actually look forward to representing my buyers with private sellers because I guarantee you, you will not be the beneficiary of a better net deal – it will be my client.

    I will not offer the service you want Sean, so you will never come to me and demand what you want if you did I would tell you to go elsewhere.

    Most important Sean, is that I deal honestly with my clients while expecting the same in return. I will only work with clients who do not harbour any resentment to my profession because they will only be pugilistic and I choose them wisely.

  60. One thing needs to change -paying 18k to have some one sell your home is way out of line….a new Flat rate model of payment would be fair.

  61. Well Hallelujah. The CREA finally realizes that it’s illegal anti-competitive practises can no longer be tolerated and finally has made a landmark deal with the Canadian Competition Bureau. From today’s Toronto Star:–mls-deal-could-lead-to-lower-real-estate-fees

    I wonder if we are going to hear from all these real estate agents on here still (PD, are you there? lol) trying to justify unjustifiable commissions now that their own organization is agreeing to this new deal.

  62. “I am not even giving second consideration to you or anyone else having access to our MLS system, nor for that matter what services you can choose from any brokerage.”

    Well, well, well. Turns out that CREA has decided to wave the white flag in its fight with the CB.

    @Sean: I found this funny in the Globe article:

    “News of the agreement caught industry leaders flat-footed. The heads of several of the country’s largest brokerage firms were unaware of it until contacted by The Globe and Mail. ”

    It’s possible PD still hasn’t gotten the memo.

  63. It’s interesting how the new head of the CREA, Georges Pahud, did a total about face over his initial views a few months about this. However, his reason for this agreement is that it ‘“would avoid unnecessary and expensive litigation proceedings”. In reality, it would have not only that but would have resulted in a court case that they would have lost and for good reason. If he thought he had a chance of winning and preserving this extremely lucrative monopoly he would have fought a bit harder (like he said he would only a few months ago).

    As for the comment by Don Lawby, chief executive officer of Century 21, in that Globe article that “It’s better to negotiate something than go to court. Bad press is bad press, and whatever the fee structure, people will always think it’s unfair.” it is indeed amazing the real estate industry still doesn’t get it. I am sure that most of us on here, and this is my view, agree that If the fee structure is reasonable and the services can be purchased a la carte instead of as one bundle then people are not going to think it is ‘always’ unfair.

  64. Something i would like to see happen…buyers would have to post a bond ($1000)so the agent and seller are not wasting time….note on this CREA comp. with MLS you still need to use a agent to list…so are we going the U.K. has gone (less then 2%)….i think DIY listings will still get black balled.

  65. Post a bond for what? To ensure they are serious? Why should this suddenly be a requirement to have an agent represent you as a buyer? And, um, it will ever be a requirement and those who request it will find they have few or no clients.

    As for your statement that DIY listings will ‘still’ get blackballed, that confirms what I always thought but which has vehemently been denied by the real estate industry (ie we treat all houses for sale the same and try to do the best for ‘our clients’, ie show them a house in the hopes that the DIY seller might agree to pay the commission for a sale, and of course at least save the selling commission in the process)

    I for one would choose a DIY listing where all I paid for was the a la carte MLS listing fee and would do my own listing, my own brochure, hold my own open houses, do my own advertisements, pay a stager (which you end up being responsible for anyway) and then would gladly pay the buyers’ agents’ commission if they brought me a buyer. If I need ‘comparables’ data, something which MLS may or may not share under this new agreement then I’ll pay for it a la carte.

    As for ‘negotiating’ the sale, as I have said before, that’s pretty simple. It mostly comes down to the price, the deposit, any simple terms such as inspection or not and what fixtures are included. If I am befuddled by some of the legalese (it’s a standard form contract anyway) I can ask my lawyer to intervene (now there’s someone who really earns their fees in a real estate deal.

    This new paradigm will get rid of a lot of the agents that make ridiculous sums of money just for listing when it’s the buying agent that does most of the work on a sale (and we’ll likely see the buying agent’s commission come down to).

  66. One more point: I don’t think buyer’s agents care if there is an agent on the other side making a selling commission or not as it does not affect their income. Real estate agents, like most people, want to maximize their own economic situation and if they, as buyers’ agents, make their 2.5%+/- then they are happy. They are not going to shun a sale because someone unconnected to them did not make their 2.5% commission because house was listed on MLS by a DIY seller. And with fewer commissions to go around on the sales side they are going to be VERY hungry!

  67. Trust me Sean I’m on your side,i did buy from a DIY er ,but my agent didn’t show me the home,i went back to the area for a 2nd look…just around the corner was FSBO sign….we worked out a deal (took about 6 days for both of us to get are ducks in a row)….i saved 27k based on the home my agent showed me….

  68. You must know somehing the card carrying members of CREA don’t know Sean. White flag? What exactly is the agreement reached between CREA and the Competition Bureau, and have we ratified same? And what is different from what is already in place? You will still and note I said still, be able to hire the brokerage of your choice; still choose fee for service by those offering it, and in deference to the U.S ruling, you will undoubtedly still have to offer at least $1 commission to a co-operating brokerage. I suggest to you that the only change you will possibly see is that your private contact information can be added to a listing. Only fraudsters and tele-marketers care more than you that this is true.

    BTW, did you notice Sean that it’s a 10 year agreement? What colour flag did the competition bureau wave when it went from “only order .. will end CREA and its members use of dominant position.. ” (thereby establishing a permanent injunction against CREA) to a vote by CREA’s members on a ten year deal?:

    Political spin is a lovely thing Sean as evidenced by the news release, the harsh rhetoric goes away and voices become silent. It’s never about a losing side only always that a compromise beneficial to all has been reached.

  69. If the Competition Bureau made a deal with the CREA then I am happy as it goes way further than they meagre proposal the CREA made before. What I do know is the CB wanted substantial changes that they didn’t get before (and they will be substantial). So, a lot is different. The CREA won’t attempt to close down, harrass and nullify brokerages as they have in the past. If you aren’t aware of the tactics they have used and the court cases against them, then why dont you google to find out. What will be very different is that services will be available a la carte and that simply wasn’t available before no matter what you attempt to say with your smokescreen. And I can’t wait until I can have my own phone number on my listing and save the selling commission and I am not worried about fraudsters and tele-marketers. I have been able to handle the ones that call 10x a day very easily right now, thank you very much. That’s just more of the fear-mongering that the CREA and its agents have been spreading for far too many years. Also, remember that I can still choose to only allow prospective purchasers that have real estate agents into my house. And, voila, I don’t have to expose myself to all these tele-marketers and fraudsters you seem to know about! And, I have saved 2.5-3% commission just like that! (and please spare me how much work and talent it takes to list a house).

    And yes I noticed the 10-year agreement. So what? After 10 years it will never go back to the ‘old way’ of the CREA. And if you think it will then you shouldn’t worry as you seem to think that everything will be basically the same after this new agreement is ratified anyway. You are placing WAY to much emphasis on the 10-years, lol.

    You seem quite upset and bitter for someone who says nothing much is changing. So, why worry?

    And, if nothing much is changing, as you say, this agreement will be sure to be ratified! Welcome to the new paradigm of real estate agents and to the end of the gravy train.

  70. @PD: It was I who said that CREA waved the white flag, so I’ll respond. The CB wanted to achieve just a couple of things: (1) Get CREA to allow listing-only access to the MLS — access that CREA cannot revoke at will (2) Get CREA to provide a way for buyers to contact sellers directly. The CB was successful in its objectives. You are welcome to characterize this as a complete success for the CREA. Whatever. We wanted MLS access and we’ve got it. That’s all I care about.

  71. @ Canadian Capitalist – Very well said.

  72. The CB failed big time, you still need to use an agent to get your listing posted on MLS . This is going cost something and not just money. These listing are going to get black balled,just like they do now. CB failed in this area big time. So lets see what happens when the listing 6 weeks old, are we going have to pay again to have this listing renewed ? What about after 3 months, will the listing get dumped….this is what happens with listing under seller agents now ….price info control will still be with the Broker/Deal…there is no data sharing agreement …..major Fail from the CB

  73. Perhaps you have inside access that we rest of us don’t have Sean because there is no statement as what the agreement reached contains, so why you jump to conclusions that it is any better than the changes CREA made earlier this year is nothing but you say you “do know” that they will be substantial so please enligthen us as to what you know.

    Further, you claim that CREA has harrassed these companies out of business are not supported by court decisions. I surmise you use the lawsuits launched against them and TREB as proof of this, but one was settled out of court at least 8 years ago. CREA subsequently changed the rules to reflect their error in judgement which by virtue of their being other discount brokerages since ,do not support your statements. One of two more recent cases, the first involving TREB has already been dismissed and being appealed I believe, and the other against CREA and TREB is yet to be tried. Your statements therefore are biased, unqualified and incorrect.

    And frankly, yes, the a la carte services were available before, proof of which has been presented to the Tribunal, and I imagine by virtue of this agreement, they have now been acknowledged by the competition bureau. Should you even care to examine the lack of truth in your claim, you may wish to Google Fraser Beach and RealtySellers and see where their cases stand.

    I am not fearmongering Sean, call it presience since it doesn’t take much to see that those who to this day commit mortgage fraud haven’t hung up their hats just because the courts ruled that the innocent seller can’t lose their homes. Nor do I care whether you or anyone else want to have your contact information published, when you acquiesce to your rights to privacy that we as REALTORS are required by law to protect, what happens thereafter is your problem.

    The most interesting part of your rebuttal though is that you ‘noticed the 10 year agreement and that it will never go back to what it was’. Interesting! I guess you haven’t done your homework in that regard either since it was the Competition Bureau’s position that the last 10 year agreement CREA signed gave them no comfort and was not enough assurance to the CB that CREA would act in good faith after the one CREA proposed earlier this year expired. The CB’s osition was that an agreement with an expiration term was unacceptible but that it should be mandated by order of the tribunal.

    I’m not bitter either Sean, you’re just throwing around motherhood statements hoping they will hit some target. But they won’t with me Sean because, I have no issues with people who want to sell privately, or pay for as little as possible. Individuals such as yourself clearly have a big dislike for REALTORS, yet, I doubt when you call one on to hire them for flat fee service you would tell them how lazy they are and every other adjective you have used in here. That is what is so evident to me about you Sean – your abject hatred of REALTORS. As such I stay away from people who show animosity to my profession – they cannot mask how they feel.

  74. Canadain Capitalist, I will type it again. Many months ago, CREA changed their rules to allow a mere posting. I have stated this on numerous occassions, perhaps this time you will acknowledge this fact as published at the tribunal’s web site? The CB however was not satisfied with this. In fact the CB was adamant that it did not want a mandated agency relationship and despite CREA’s concession, the CB acted as though they were wearing blinders, led the public astray where, with their statements, the public was left with the impression that there were no options available to sellers. Not only was this a blatant misrepresentation of the facts, the CB insisted that the tribunal issue an order in perpetuity.

    None of what you state is a revelation and if in your eyes it’s a big victory for you to allow your name and contact info in a listing then CREA has been dealt a mighty blow.

  75. As far as I know we do not know what the actual agreement is yet, except that real estate agent services will be able to be purchased a la carte without interference and closing down of the brokerage by the CREA as it has been wont to do before. (If you need an example, @PD, then check out what happened to RealtySellers Ltd. They are only one of many that were forced to close operations due to heavy-handedness by the CREA.) @Canadian Capitalist reports that the sellers phone number can be contained in the listing and @dj says that there is no data sharing agreement but I don’t know if we know that yet.


    – One’s address is listed on most MLS listings anyway, so there was no privacy before. That’s far more intrusive than a phone number, so adding the phone number doesn’t change anything from a privacy point of view. Also, it’s my choice whether to have my phone number on the listing or not, so if people don’t want it, they do have a choice? So, that’s a total red herring;

    – Mortgage fraud has occurred even though there were real estate agents involved in the transaction. So, again little value add there for a real estate agent to be part of the process;

    – The problem with the previous offer by the CREA, as Canadian Capitalist pointed out is that listing only access cannot be revoked at will by the CREA as it could in their previous offer. Now there is assurance that the rules won’t be changed unilaterally by the CREA. You fail to see that big difference.

    – As for ‘motherhood statements’ that’s what I hear from most agents including yourself. To date, my direct questions earlier in these blog comments regarding what other than the items I specifically enumerated in a sale transaction will a real estate agents perform for me has still been left unanswered. What I got from you were motherhood statements that you answered already, etc etc. yet you actually did not. Here is your opportunity. I would be very happy to repeat my question if you would respond to it without any motherhood statements but with an enumeration of the other tasks you perform in addition to what I have listed. Funny that question is always met with silence online. In person agents have a blank look on their face when I ask (even the really seasoned ones).

    – I don’t have a dislike for realtors. I have a dislike for realtors that get way overpaid and it seems most of the Canadian public feels the same way. I would gladly pay a real estate agent who brings me a buyer for my home in addition to entertaining offers from those who are not represented by an agent, but definitely not on the sell side. There is almost no value add there.


    I thought the whole idea behind listing on the MLS for a flat rate and purchasing other real estate agent services a la carte was so that one could broadcast the listing to everyone. If you don’t want to use an agent for other than the listing and prefer to sell to someone without an agent then blackballing by agents doesn’t matter. If you are open to selling to someone that has an agent (and pay that agent’s fee), you won’t be blackballed because buyer’s agents could care less whether or not they selling side gets a fee. It does not affect them.

    Also, you had to use a brokerage firm before to list and you do now. I think it is likely a good idea as it brings some consistency and some sort of quality control, however small, to the listings.

    As for listings being dumped, well they do terminate when the listing agreement terminates. I don’t see how that is a problem. They have to end sometime.

    I plan to list my house on my own and provide a 2.5% commission to the buying agent, if there is one. How does that change anything from the buying agent’s point of view? They will be even hungrier for commissions as they see their listing fees diminish severly because people will be listing on their own.

    I would like to also see a data sharing arrangement for historical sales, but I think the most important aspects of this deal will be MLS services a la carte, especially the listing, and the sellers phone number on the listing.

  76. @PD

    The CREA changed their rules to allow a mere posting, as you claim,


    it could re REVOKED at any time unilaterally by the CREA. What does a change matter if the change can be revoked? It means nothing then. This was made loud and clear by the CB but the CREA would not agree to this. You keep refusing to acknowledge this key difference.

    I’ll explain the relevance of the sellers’ phone number inclusion: Having a mere listing with the agent controlling all of the information flow (ie no sellers phone number on the ad) is like having the mouse guard the cheese. And, if that is not the case then why would the CREA not agree to this change without thee CB taking them to court?

    Please answer this question (but I highly doubt you will, given it’s been your behaviour to go off on a tangent with motherhood statements in the past).

  77. The actual agreement between CREA and CB is not public yet. So, it’s not clear if the second point in my previous comment is part of the agreement. The point is that businesses offering discount services can’t be squelched whenever CREA feels threatened:

    @dj: I don’t understand your comment about blackballing. When we purchased our home, our agent was more than willing to show us FSBOs as pretty much every seller was offering to pay the buyer agent commission anyway. Why would the buyer agent care whether there is a full service seller agent or not if the client wants to purchase a home?

  78. Sean, kindly take off your blinders because this statement of yours was and continues to be an outright lie:

    “As for ‘motherhood statements’ that’s what I hear from most agents including yourself. To date, my direct questions earlier in these blog comments regarding what other than the items I specifically enumerated in a sale transaction will a real estate agents perform for me has still been left unanswered. What I got from you were motherhood statements that you answered already, etc etc. yet you actually did not. Here is your opportunity. I would be very happy to repeat my question if you would respond to it without any motherhood statements but with an enumeration of the other tasks you perform in addition to what I have listed. Funny that question is always met with silence online. In person agents have a blank look on their face when I ask (even the really seasoned ones).”

    Not only have I answered that, I challenged you on several occassions which you have run away from to tell me how you would manage the scenarios I painted. If you ever put your fear of embarrassing yourself behind you and respond I will then demonstrate for you that not only are you a cookie cutter kind of guy who knows zip, zero, nada about selling real estate save for your idea of a convential sale scenario., and also show you exactly what you do not know that a REALTOR does.

    And don’t even go there with Realtysellers being shut down, you know nothing about what happened with that brokerage save for the spin put out by Dale Lawrence and the CB. If you were astute and interested in due diligence before jumping to conclusions you would take the time to read the documents on file with the CB and note that Realtysellers at the time it closed was indebted to a number of clients for rebates on sales/purchases that were made but cannot afford to pay. The primary responsibility of any corporation is to remain a going concern by ensuring their business plan does not put them in an insolvent position. The primary duty of a brokerage is to protect the best interests of their client and, the rule of law is that a binding contract is made in good faith with the intent of fulfilling same. So, the first question you should be asking yourself is: why, if they received the commission from those sales do they not have the funds? The second is, what did they do with those funds? The third is: if those funds were used for some purpose other than the intended rebates, did they breach their contractual obligations to their clients? And finally, what caused their money problems?

  79. With regard to this question:
    I’ll explain the relevance of the sellers’ phone number inclusion: Having a mere listing with the agent controlling all of the information flow (ie no sellers phone number on the ad) is like having the mouse guard the cheese. And, if that is not the case then why would the CREA not agree to this change without thee CB taking them to court?

    Please answer this question (but I highly doubt you will, given it’s been your behaviour to go off on a tangent with motherhood statements in the past).”

    I have no idea what lies behind CREA’s thoughts on this, nor do I agree with the position. As I have said, I don’t care if a seller opts to publicize this information, what I do know is that this is a cheap win if that is the crux of your argument. Considering that most people when enquiring on a property either call or send an email do so hiding their phone number or real name, it is safe to say that most people will not want this private information published despite the change and will opt to have the contact calls screened by the brokerage first.

  80. @PD – Your only answer to my question posed was that you answered the question aready and you keep repeating that. I have had others read this thread and they don’t know where you answered it either. You can’t even point out the post where you answered it it but you have no problem writing 3 paragaphs instead of just answering the question. Not sure why you just can’t understand that.

    Point proven.

  81. And, um, as for ‘managing the scenarios’ you painted, you need to answer my questions not me yours. You are the agent, not me. I don’t need to manage those peculiar scenarios. I only need to manage my own scenario, which is typical of 99% of the homes sold in Canada, and it’s not rocket science and certainly does not need an agent to prepare and list on MLS. On the buy side I am happy to pay an agent a commission, but bring me a buyer and earn your money.

    Good of CREA to realize it was fighting a losing battle and therefore be forced to change its anti-competitive and monopolistic practices that only served to line listing real-estate agents pocketbooks at the expensive of home owners (who were the only parties that had any skin in the game with respect to their investment in their home).

  82. Pingback: Competition Issues

  83. The Globe & Mail reports this morning the following some new details about the proposed deal between the CREA and the Competition Bureau of Canada:

    – only licensed agents will be allowed to post listings;

    – listing agents will be responsible for the integrity of each listing. This makes sense, of course, since you are forced to post through an agent. Also, they will be paid a flat fee, which covers both the cost of listing on MLS and the background work (minimal, but still) that they have to ensure the integrity of the listing;

    – Sellers who pay a flat fee for a listing won’t have their contact information posted, although the listing can provide links to other sites that contain contact information. This is great because it will allow any prospective buyer to contact me directly.

    – Sellers posting on MLS for a flat fee will be required to tell real estate agents up front what they will be paid if they find a buyer. I have never had a problem with this as I think they should be compensated if they do the work on the buy side that results in a successful sale. And, if an agent gets the same commission as they do for any traditional listing – ie 2-2.5%, then they won’t shun such listings. Of course, this provides you the opportunity to sell to someone not represented by an agent who sees your listing on MLS and not pay any commission. Gotta LOVE that.

    And, the Globe & Mail also reports that ‘a handful of companies started flat-fee listing service within days of the decision [earlier this year…by the CREA to allow agents to post listing on MLS without handling the rest of the deal].’ This was, by the way, unnacceptable to the Competition Bureau because the CREA wanted to be able to revoke this ability at any time, which meant it really wasn’t a change at all. The current deal requires the changes to be in place for at least 10 years

    This reveals the lie that @PD keeps spreading that one could easily post such flat fee listings on MLS before this change by the CREA. If that was really the case then all of these companies would not have started these flat-fee listing services after the decision. They waited because anyone doing it before closed down by the CREA.

  84. One glaring omission in the article is any mention of comparative sales data and access to it, which helps to price a house. This will likely be available on an a la carte basis for a fee.

    Globe article.

    • @Sean: I was about to post the link to the Globe article but you beat me to it. The same article is also available here (permanent link that won’t disappear behind Globe’s subscription wall in a few weeks):

      Realtors keep grip on MLS in deal with feds

      As you point out, this deal addresses the most important concern: CREA won’t change the rules just because it doesn’t like flat-fee services. It would have been nice if seller information was listed directly but again, it’s something that can be worked around. Actually, that’s how one agent who offers MLS listing for $109 currently provides the seller’s contact information.

      I wonder if the agreement opens the gates for third-party data providers scraping MLS data in Zillow like websites.

  85. So, it seems that the steps that one will have to go through to list a house on one’s own are as follows:

    1. Prepare a listing. ‘Not difficult’ and ‘simply requires the completion of paperwork and online forms’ as @PD says above.

    2. Perform property history. I haven’t found many people ever provide a property ‘history’ but this can easily be done and is not rocket science (if the property actually has any real history that is relevant).

    3. Analysis of market and neighbourhood. You can easily find this out from google searches and most buyers will rely on what their agent or what they themselves feel about the ‘hood rather than what the seller or seller’s agent says. In any event, pretty simple stuff.

    4 . Zoning & By-Law searches. Agents always hire someone else to do this anyway and one can easily pay a lawyer or title searcher to do so for a small amount.

    5. Comparative searches. This merely consists of running a report on MLS for sales data on similar homes. Available a la carte from an agent right now. I’ve had countless agents offer me this as a ‘free evaluation’ of my property showing the prices of comparables. In any event, it’s not very hard work to obtain.

    6. ‘Creating’ a ‘Marketing Campaign’ and ‘Strategy’. This seems to be the listing, the open houses, the ads on Craigslist and in newspapers and not much else. If an agent is ‘marketing’ the listing to their buyers they are going to do that anyway, regardless of whether they listed the property or not. As for marketing the property to other agents, agents don’t need anyone to do that as they are looking at MLS constantly for what houses are coming on the market. As for strategy, the only strategy I have ever seen is to accept offers only at a certain time so there is a bit of a bidding war (if the market conditions permit) So, all of this can be very easily done by one’s self without an agent. I’d welcome @PD piping in on what other ‘secret sauce’ there is in a marketing campaign, because I have yet to hear of any other value add in this area other than what I have listed. I always get a blank look from agents when I read out my list and ask “ok, what else will you do for me?” (@PD now’s your chance to FINALLY answer this question, and please, no motherhood remarks. I want specific and identifiable actions you take. And no, I am not going to answer your real estate agent quiz as that’s your job!)

    7. Staging the house. Agents always end up referring you to a staging company (which you pay out of your own pocket anyway) so that’s something you can do yourself. So, no value add there.

    8. Open Houses. The general consensus amongst agents (and this has been told to me personally) is that agents hold open houses mainly to acquire more clients rather than to market a house, as that rarely happens at an open house. Any agents worth their salt will show a house to a prospective clients privately without all of the commotion of an open house going on. Yes, the odd time a house does get sold through an open house but it’s rare. It’s easy to hold an open house and if you want you can probably get an agent to be there with you for free since they get the benefit of finding new clients and also they will be hungrier when the listing commissions dry up.

    I am not sure how one will broadcast an agents’ open house (where only agents come by to see the house) but I am sure there will be a way to advertise that.

    9. Craigslist and newspaper ads. Not rocket science to place yourself.

    10. Negotiating the sale. Aside from the requisite signing back and forth to arrive at a figure, the only conditions in sale agreements appear to be inspections, what fixtures are included, closing date, deposit amount and any other clauses (UFFI, bedbugs, etc). A lawyer can easily help you with this aspect of the deal.

    And yes, there might be some rare instances in which someone may feel it is worth it to use an agent to list a property and to pay the full 2-3% fee for that. At least now there is an option.

  86. Sean do you really think you(fsbo) have won something here? Like PD said above any agent can post your listing for you ,just give him $1k :). There is no change in this bad acting job by CREA,and major lobbying for this oh so Canadian agreement ….a ten year lock up! This is so your local MP/MPP can say ops ,sorry can’t do a thing about it…have a look around an see who’s giving money to the local Pauly for this vote on the 25th

  87. Then you and all those who looked for you should look again! You obviously expect that the answer should be as cookie cutter as your idea as to how real estate sales work but it isn’t so this is the snyopsis and if you were truly honest with your argument and wanted to know what value we bring then you would rise to the occassion and respond to my challenge wherein I am most anxiously waiting to demonstrate to you the difference between what you think you know and what REALTORS know and do. See the sentance starting with ‘pre- listing work’ Sean? That is what these scenarios are all about.

    March 31, 4:17 p.m
    “For both the buyer and seller, a good Realtor is performing property history, zoning, by-law and comparative searches and also analyses of the market and neighbourhood . As well, the listing Realtor is spending time in talks about strategy, preparing the property for sale and creating a marketing campaign. It is often because of careful pre-listing work that it appears easy to sell a house where to some it just seems like a sign or an open house and a posting to MLS does the trick. What is never given its due is the amount of time spent before during and after the listing is made – time accumulated toward earning that commission. ”

    As for this – “And, um, as for ‘managing the scenarios’ you painted, you need to answer my questions not me yours. You are the agent, not me.” There is no typical 99% home selling scenario Sean, every real estate lawyer will tell you this and never have I come across two that are alike.

    Nice try but I’ll give it an F- for failure to tell me why you as a seller are at least as equipped as a REALTOR to sell your property. And an even lower mark for avoiding the crux of your own argument.

    Surprise me and show me that you are not 100% predictable. That is – always coming back with more of your schoolyard (you’ll repeat this statement too won’t you?) attempts at denial and deflection of my scenarios Sean. I won’t be indulging your denials any longer.

    One last thing, I haven’t read the Globe article, but I can correct you on how you frame what is known about the agreement:

    There are no changes to the earlier CREA statement regarding flat fee/discount brokerages.
    Sellers will not have their contact information provided to the public on the listing.
    Sellers have always had to and will continue to have to state on the listing, the fee buying brokerages would receive. I expect that to remain as a minimum of $1 as it has been for years.
    Pursuant to the CREA change of earlier this year and prior to an agreement being reached, mere listings were allowed. CREA did not reserve the right to revoke this.

    And one last thing Sean, please provide me with the post where I stated that this was done “before this change by the CREA.”

    Canadian Capitalist, I don’t know for sure but I doubt scraping even entered into the conversation and would remain a proprietary right of CREA and the real estate boards.

  88. More rubbish from you Sean:

    “4 . Zoning & By-Law searches. Agents always hire someone else to do this anyway and one can easily pay a lawyer or title searcher to do so for a small amount.”

    Agents access this information on line and have not had the need to hire title searchers for years. All included under a commission structure.

    5. Comparative” searches. This merely consists of running a report on MLS for sales data on similar homes. Available a la carte from an agent right now. I’ve had countless agents offer me this as a ‘free evaluation’ of my property showing the prices of comparables. In any event, it’s not very hard work to obtain.”

    Won’t be free with a la carte. And one only? Statistics? Trends? Hmm.

    6. ‘Creating’ a ‘Marketing Campaign’ and ‘Strategy’. This seems to be the listing, the open houses, the ads on Craigslist and in newspapers and not much else… As for strategy, the only strategy I have ever seen is to accept offers only at a certain time so there is a bit of a bidding war..

    If you really wanted to know, you would answer my challenge.

    “7. Staging the house. Agents always end up referring you to a staging company (which you pay out of your own pocket anyway) so that’s something you can do yourself. So, no value add there’

    More nonsense! Did you know Sean, that I was one of the first in my neck of the woods to pay for the consultation myself and that more REALTORS are embracing this than not? Why of course you didn’t know Sean, because you’re not up to date.

    8. Open Houses. The general consensus amongst agents (and this has been told to me personally) is that agents hold open houses mainly to acquire more clients rather than to market a house, as that rarely happens at an open house….

    It is unfortunate that some see this as the furtherance of a REALTOR’s interest, be they the public or industry related. The fact is this, if a sign or an open house adds just one more percentage point to the 90+% provided by MLS when selling a client’s property, then it is worth it. We cannot get to 100% but we can sure try. Due diligence Sean means choosing your REALTOR wisely just as you might choose your energy supplier, cable, telephone etc., wisely.

    “9. Craigslist and newspaper ads. Not rocket science to place yourself.”

    True enough! Have you ever searched a REALTOR’s or brokerage’s web site?

    “10. Negotiating the sale. Aside from the requisite signing back and forth to arrive at a figure, the only conditions in sale agreements appear to be inspections, what fixtures are included, closing date, deposit amount and any other clauses (UFFI, bedbugs, etc). A lawyer can easily help you with this aspect of the deal.

    Absolute nievete! And all for the sake of saving in REALTOR fees, the likes of which are covered under fiduciary duty, you would rather pay for in legal fees. Nothing other than the usual closing of the deal is included under legal costs, everything else carries an additional charge. Ever read Bob Aarron’s articles on case law?

    “And yes, there might be some rare instances in which someone may feel it is worth it to use an agent to list a property and to pay the full 2-3% fee for that. At least now there is an option.”


  89. As I expected @PD, you still dodge all the questions and have provided no new information about all these other mysterious value-added services you purport to provide over and above what I have listed.

  90. Just to dispel the smokescreen that agents try to blow (and referring to PD’s rant above):

    Real estate sales (listings anyway) are very cookie cutter. Buying is not as cookie cutter because there is so much running around with buyer’s, many of which who ultimately don’t buy. All you need to do is to look at the steps that I have eumerated and the fact no agent has yet been able to add anything to what I have stated to see this. PD has spent hours telling me why I don’t need to be told, lol.

    As for ‘strategy’, ‘marketing campaign’, ‘pre-listing work’, ‘speding time in talks’ (love that one!) one need only refer to my posts. It’s not rocket science and anyone with a high school degree can do it.

    Most people would agree with me that 99% of the homes are typical and 1% are not. Real estate lawyers tell me this and the 1% that is not typical has more to do with title, bylaw and other legal issues that lawyers deal with rather than real estate agents.

    A seller is more than equipped to sell a home. They know it better than the agent, they have money invested in it, they care more than anyone about getting a good price and agents just want to take a cut and move on. Just wait and see. Also, finally they can sell a home through MLS using a flat rate listing with the ability of the buyer to contact them directly. This was not possible before. (Spare me that it was. It wasn’t really, which is why the Globe article stated that only after the CREA changed it’s stance have all these flat rate programs popped up)

    Seller WILL have their contact info accessible through the listing by providing a referral to another website. Another victory!

    Zoning & By-Law searches. Agents always hire someone else to do this anyway and one can easily pay a lawyer or title searcher to do so for a small amount.”

    @PD, you are undermining your own argument by saying that ‘Agents access this information on line and have not had the need to hire title searchers for years. If this is true and lawyers and title searchers are not required then that is even less value add than I thought. It’s very easy for you to do that search and it takes how long? 10 min? 1 hr, 2 hrs? Okay I’ll give you $100/hr for your time doing that or just hire a title searcher or lawyer to do it. The fact is: I can.

    With respect to pricing houses, believe me, that info will be available a la carte as it is now. I constantly hae agents haranguing me to provide comparative listings, a free evaluation, etc as to what my house should list for. This will not end.. As for ‘trends’ and statistics the trends are either up or down and the statistics are readily available for free. Not worth paying you 2.5% for in selling my home. And if it’s that important I’ll give you a few schenkels for your trouble.

    Regarding marketing plans – you still remain silent even though I’ve asked you 5 times. I get the message. there is NOTHING else.

    As for staging, who cares if you pay or not? I get the same service by just paying myself and I avoid your ridiculous commission.

    As for open houses, agents have told me they are useless for the most part except for gaining new clients. So, take that up with your associates. In any event, I am to paying you 2.5% of my sales price because it might increase the chances by 1% of selling the home. And, since I am going to do them myself I’ll gain that 1% advantage anyway.

    Not sure what your point is about ‘REALTOR’s or brokerage’s web site’. And, no, I don’t search them, nor need to, as everything is on MLS. And for $500 I can pay someone to create the most gorgeous website to showcase my own home with pictures, videos and everything that will make a real estate agent’s website look like a kindergarten scrawl. And I can refer to that website in my flat-rate low-cost MLS listing.

    As for negotiating the sale, I have sat in on a couple sales of my own home and the negotiating is just as I described. The price just bounces around back and forth a couple times and that’s about it. I don’t need an agent to scoop 2.5% for telling me I need to sign the offer back at higher than the offering price. And, yes, I would rather pay a lawyer by the hour if anything crops up with regard to condition wording (and it rarely ever does) than pay you 2.5%.

    My lawyer has likely read Bob Aarron’s articles on case law. I don’t need to as that’s what I pay him for.

    Sorry PD, the gravy train is over and you have actually made quite a convincing argument for NOT using an agent for listing a home.

    We all thank you 🙂

  91. Sean…

    What can I tell you except that which will massage your ego?

    You want to believe that the majority of real estate transactions are cookie cutter, the professionals in real estate know better than you. From the rural property sitting on land abutting a power grid right of way to the investment property owned by a citizen of a country with no recirprocating tax treaty, you know absolutely nothing. You’re right Sean, for you though it’s plop a sign on the lawn, and sell it, but don’t try and sell me the most people argument unless you are an active participant in this business and can demonstrate you know what you are talking about. Motherhood statements again!

    You remind me of the type of private seller I systemically encounter..uggh an agent. One in particular of whom I will bore you with the details:

    2 years ago I received a call from poential sellers who were given my name by their neighbour whose house I sold. I attended and they were contemplating selling their home and wanted to know of course the market value and my recommendations. My opinions were these: contrary to, about $10,000 worth of upgrades to the kitchen and bathrooms as suggested by kitchen and bathroom companies, they should spend no more than $1500 in cosmetics to modernize and unless they had to sell at that particular time – don’t. On a montly basis I delivered to their home an update of the housing market and the same caution. Three months later they called me to say they made the changes I suggested and loved it so much they decided to stay, but to keep them updated which I did monthly.

    A year and a half later, they asked that I provide them with a market evaluation of their home as their financial advisor was in the process of consolidating their retirement plans and I did so. You will note Sean, that these people are’t clients or even ones I tried to get to list, but this is not the story.

    2 Weeks later, a cookie cutter sign appeared in the neighbourhood, you know the kind — a dollar store for sale sign with uneven handwriting in black magic marker advertising a house for sale privately. It happened to be across from them. So, to ensure that my retirees are kept abreast of the neighbourhood sales, I knock on the door during open house and was greeted by mr and mrs seller all smiles and eager to let me in. As required, I handed them my card, smiles turned to frowns of disdain and the words: “oh, you’re an agent,” cut the air. I quickly assured them that I was not there to solicit their business and asked if I could enter. Not that they believed me. Not for one second did they let me out of their sight, but they never once shut up about their property or try to get my opinion on it. Talk about failing selling 101 and getting something for free from people who dislike us eh Sean?

    Well an opinion they didn’t get, not even feedback – I could care less who they were or what their story was – they were not my priority. Instead, that very same day, another note landed in the mail box of the retirees and attached to which was the poorly executed feature sheet for that private sale, and my pronouncement that this is the most recent neighbourhood activity, that they were overpriced by $40,0000 and as such that property’s price should not be used as a measure against their own property’s value.

    Incidentally, that property remained for sale privately until the signs disappeared earlier this year after the big to do about real estate prices reaching extraordinary levels.

    It is yet to be sold.

    Yes, Sean, private sellers like you know what you are doing. Meanwhile, three houses on the street have listed in the interim and all have been sold by buyer and selling REALTORS.

    Now regarding hourly prices, it’s simple when it come sto a la carte services: –

    You will pay not only for what it costs us to access the information online, but also for our time, whatever the particular brokerage/REALTOR deems it to be, paper, ink, internet access.

    What marketing plans have you asked me for 5 times Sean? If you are looking for tips forget it, the only people privy to those are my clients.

    Okay so then, since you don’t care that you could pay for staging yourself, that’s a complaint you withdraw as meaningless to your own debate.

    I don’t care what these other so-called REALTOR friends of yours are telling you about signs, I and countless others want to give our sellers as much exposure as possible and use them for that purpose. I trust however that since you discredit them so, when you do sell a property no sign will appear?

    Brokerage websites are linked by franchisor and in numerous cases between brokerages/franchisors. There are buyers believe it or not Sean who frequent a brokerage’s website in search of listings, there are far more on these than any appearing on the likes of Craigslist or such other.

    I have no doubt that a mere $500 will create a beautiful page for – forsalebysean. So far you’ve paid legal fees for searches at a minimum of $200/hr, $500 for a brokerage website, a la carte listing fees of unknown amount, you offer to pay commission to the buyer brokerage , you haven’t printed a brochure or advertised in the newspaper yet, or been interrupted at work for enquiries and showing appointments. All because you hate REALTORS.

    I didn’t ask you if your lawyer has read Bob Aaron, I asked you! Your lawyer knows that no 2 deals are alike, you obviously are green.

  92. Nice try but your reply that “If you are looking for tips forget it, the only people privy to those are my clients.the only people privy to those are my clients” says it all. The same answer I get from real estate agents (who want my business) when I pose the question. Also, I have talked to real estate agent friends of mine (your associates no doubt) and they tell me that there are no other steps other than that which I have enumerated. So, please, you know you can’t point to anything else simply because there is nothing else.

    Interesting of you to point out that some people don’t know how to do private sales. So what?

    As for the example you describe, it’s 1% of the market, not the other 99% of the market that will benefit from these new flat rate MLS listings and a la carte services.

    But, I can see why you are so passionate about attempting to provide a believable reply to my comments. You are facing your listing business drying up as a result of the changes and it’s going to hurt you in the pocket book big time.

    I don’t hate realtors. I just object (like most of the Canadian public) giving a listing agent 2.5% of the price of my house for not doing much. Your listing work is, at best, a flat rate of $1,000-$5,000. There is no reason your wages should go up just because the value of a house goes up. Houses have doubled in the last 10 years and so has your commission. There is something wrong with that big time, because you are doing the same amount of work. You did nothing to achieve the increase in prices. Supply and demand, the economic situation and interest rates are the largest drivers of real estate prices, not real estate agent savvy. And, I am happy that I am finally able to list my house on my own on MLS with my own contact info available, which was not possible in quite the way it is going to be now.

    I wish you the best of luck in reinventing yourself as you see your listings dry up.

  93. Sean, I know our kind well – you always have riends in the buisness who tell you this and that.

    Well, I happen to be in this buisness Sean, and I am not one of your friends whose voice is absent from these discussions and you cannot hide behind these supposed friends of yours. Yet, you know what they say Sean – if you sleep with the wolves you hunt with the wolves- ergo, you associate with those who hold the same values as you.

    You’ve lost Sean, as has the publisher of this website regardless of how he spins the story.

    The CB accepted CREA’s position of earlier this year. Nothing has changed since the CREA ruling was made allowing mere postings.

    PD out.

  94. @PD:

    I have friends in the business who ‘confirm’ what I already knew. What they to me was not news to me. And, um, I am not hiding behind them at all. I am coming out and saying what I think and asking questions, which all you do is dodge.

    The CREA ratified the consent agreement with the Competition Bureau, which includes many terms they fought so hard to avoid and were going to go to court to avoid until they realized they were going to fight a battle that they could not win and, at the same time, might risk sanctions and changes worse than would be in effect if they made an agreement. You can call that losing if you want. Sane people call it winning.

    I’ll be all eyes if you ever care to answer my question about all those other mysterious things you claim to do to sell a house, other than those I have enumerated, but it’s obvious to readers of things long thread that you are too embarrassed to admit there is actually nothing else. Otherwise, you would have answered it.

  95. And @PD, one more thing:

    You keep saying that “Nothing has changed since the CREA ruling was made allowing mere postings.” even though it has been pointed out to you many times that much has changed, including this was reported today after the consent agreement was ratified by the CREA:

    By the CBC Ottawa:

    “The CREA agreed to make changes to its practices last March, but the organization wanted a clause which would have allowed local boards to veto the decision. ”

    This and other changes is far from ‘nothing has changed’. Hopefully you pay more attention to detail when listing and attempting to sell homes!

  96. The Consent Agreement between the Commissioner of Competetition and the CREA was just filed. It can be found here. I did a google search and couldn’t find it because it just was posted:

  97. The most important paragraph is the following.

    ‘3. CREA shall not adopt, maintain, or enforce any Rules that deny the ability of Members to
    provide Mere Postings for Sellers, or that discriminate against Members because they
    offer, or wish to offer, to provide Mere Postings for Sellers, including, but not limited to,
    any Rule that:

    (a) prevents Members from offering a Mere Posting;

    (b) prevents Mere Postings from being listed in a Member Board’s MLS® System;

    (c) discriminates against Mere Postings, provided that the bare identification of a
    Mere Posting in a Member Board’s MLS® System is not discriminatory;

    (d) prevents Members from cooperating with Members that offer Mere Postings;

    ( e) prevents Members from:

    (i) listing a Seller’s contact information in the REALTOR®-only remarks
    section of the MLS® System, with instructions directing interested
    Members to contact the Seller directly,

    (ii) including, in the General Description section on an Approved Website, a
    direction to visit either the REALTOR®’s or his or her brokerage’s
    website (whichever site is included as the contact link in the
    REALTOR®’s contact information on the Approved Website) for
    additional information about the listing (without specifying the nature of
    such additional information), or

    (iii) displaying the Seller’s contact information on a website other than an
    Approved Website;

    (f) prevents Members from negotiating and contracting, with a Seller, in respect of
    the terms of payment for compensation to the co-operating Members for the cooperative
    selling of the property, as long as the offered compensation is not zero;

    (g) conditions use of, or access to, the MLS® Marks or a Member Board’s MLS®
    System on a Member, or a prospective Member, not offering Mere Postings.’

    It seems that a prospective buyer who is not represented by an agent and who wants to contact the seller directly merely has to refer to the listing ‘REALTOR®’s or his or her brokerage’s website’ for the sellers contact information as the consent agreement does not specifically exclude this information from being listed there. Indeed, it specifically states that there is no rule against ‘displaying the Seller’s contact information on a website other than an Approved Website (such website being defined in the agreement as “REALTORca (formerly or any other website operated by CREA or a Member Board originating from a service operated under an MLS® System”)

    Some other points about the agreement:

    There is no minimum that the buyer’s agent (if there is one) has to be paid as long as it is not zero.

    As for data sharing about comparative sale history, there is nothing in the agreement about it, but that information is already readily available for free from agents (I get offers every week for a free evaluation on my home and their recommendation on selling price along with a free listing of comparative sales history for the area.) It takes 5 seconds for a real estate agent to run the report, but a bit more to analyse it. No doubt the report and its analysis with respect to your home will be available a la carte for a small fee.

    What a great day for Canadians wanting to buy or sell a home any time in the future!

  98. @Sean: I was looking for the agreement on the CB website last night but didn’t find it. Thanks for pointing out that it is available now.

    Despite what we hear from some real estate agents, I agree that this is great news for Canadian homeowners. The key is taking away CREA’s ability to change the rules when it starts feeling the heat from the discounters.

    My guess: due to competition commissions will fall from current rates. I wonder if falling commissions will result in increasing turnover — i.e. Canadians buy and sell homes more frequently because it is cheaper to do so.

  99. @Canadian Capitalist:

    Yeah, it was only filed this morning.

    I think that there might be increased activity with respect to those doing tear downs and renovations as the cost of engaging in such a transaction will fall and people who do this care less about the house and more about the potential than living in it (and therefore have less of a requirement for a real estate agent). For others I think it will have an effect, but a small one on turn-over as the main drivers of real-estate turn over have less to do with transaction fees and more to do with other factors such as work, finances, requirements, etc.

    I don’t think that Canadians will immediately all rush to flat fee listings but that it will be slow but sure as people see that there is little value added there by real estate agents and that one should pay much less for whatever value was added and do it on an a la carte rather than on a % of sale prices basis (help in preparing the listing, brochures, open houses, consultations, comparative analysis, newspaper ads etc). As the listing fees dry up, agents will gravitate to being almost exclusively buyers’ agents where there will still be % of buying price commissions. This will thin the ranks of real estate agents quite significantly as, over time, the fees to go around will slowly be almost halved. Hopefully this will also result in a better quality of real estate agent rather than some of the ones we see masquerading as such during boom times in real estate.

    The difficulty in selling one’s home using a flat rate listing will be more on the buying end. Agents are known to steer clients to listings wherein they receive a higher commission. What agent is going to market a home to their client where they get a 1% commission (or less) if there is another home, even one not as suitable or good a value, where they get a 2.5% commission? Very few. I have even seen this happen. They have to put food on the table and, as I have said before, most people (especially in sales) act to maximize their own economic interest. The only way to avoid this is to offer competitive commissions to the buyers’ agent and that is likely at last 2%. Of course, if the buyer contacts you directly and has no agent you can skip the commission altogether, but then you should be more concerned about whether you got the best price after commission, than whether you paid one or not.

    I also hope this will reduce or limit the practice of real estate agents attempting to show preference and double-end deals and engage in other shenanigans that result in other buyers’ offers not being presented when they should have been. We’ve all heard stories like this. Having the sellers contact information available may help to reduce such incidences.

    What would be great is if, along with this new agreement, everyone listing on MLS simply refused to budge on paying more than 1% commission to the buyer’s agent. After all, why should that matter anyway? 1% is more than enough, especially since house prices have doubled in such a short period of time yet the work real estate agents perform has not increased in scope or difficulty. After all, what should really matter is whether the house is can be afforded, is good value, is something that the buyer wants and is suitable for the buyer rather than which listing provides the higher commission to the buyers’ agent.

  100. This is a great editorial that came out after the consent agreement on the CREA situation and real estate commissions:

  101. Yes he wants it just like the CMA (the real reason we have a Doctor shortage )…i’m still pissed about the ten year lock up on this deal…major fail by CB….Ms Atkins should lose her job over this.

  102., which pioneered flat rate listings, but was getting continually harrassed by the CREA such that it became untenable to stay in business in the face of continuing uncertainy is now back in business. Turns out that Lawrence Dale, a former lawyer who owned the company, was the one that convinced the Competition Bureau to investigate the CREA.

    He is now back in business and is offering FREE MLS listings or a 0.5% fee if you want service. Also, if you buy your home using him as a buyer’s agent he’ll refund 75% of the 2.5% commission he gets. That sure is an incentive to use him when you want to make an offer. You can also sign up on his website to receive emails when homes in the area you are interested in are listed on MLS.

    By the way, for the Toronto area, posts daily listings of what comes up on MLS, both in graphical form on a map and in a text listing format. Much better than anything MLS has.

  103. Looks like there is a new fight brewing. From the Saturday Globe article below:

    The Competition Bureau is ‘also examining whether the data agents generate and keep in the password-protected section of the MLS should be made available to anyone listing with a flat-fee brokerage. Access to data is important to those handling their own sale because it helps them decide what their property is worth.’

  104. That data “should” belongs to the tax payer ,after all we pay for the Pop. Reg……maybe Ms Atkin can get this right.

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