While there are a few ways to get sold data for real estate in Canada, the easiest (and cheapest) is to work with a real estate agent. In most provinces sold data is considered part of a person’s right to privacy. As a result, it is restricted from being publicly released by real estate board regulations. Another option is to pay for a search at the land registry office or hire a lawyer, but that’s expensive.
Canada is currently facing a discussion on whether or not sold data should be made public. We aren’t the first country to tackle this thorny issue. In America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, legal changes have been made allowing for greater access. Previous home sales data for a property, among other information, is made available to the public without the need to go through a gatekeeper, such as licensed real estate agent or land registry office.
In fact, it’s been a decade since websites and apps, like U.S.-based Zillow and Trulia, and New Zealand’s Trade Me Property first began offering more data on individual properties and deeper insight into each neighbourhood. Yet, in Canada, limitations still exist on what data can be released publicly.
Challenges to Canada’s restrictive laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court
In early 2018, a Federal Court of Appeal upheld a decision that would force Canada’s largest real estate board, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), to release data. This includes historical sales information on individual properties. TREB appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. But in August of 2018 the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. This means the lower court ruling still holds. No doubt, it will impact what data real estate brokerages and agents can legally release publicly.
How do Canada’s rules stack up? We examined how data in real estate transactions are handled in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.