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Why housing sold data is allowed, but not available

TREB Another home sold sign row of houses Canada

The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) continues to look for ways to make sure its Greater Toronto Area home sales data isn’t “recklessly shared.”

After the Supreme Court of Canada’s refusal to hear TREB’s appeal — the board has argued for seven years that home sales data must be kept behind password protection due to privacy and copyright issues — many real estate agents have rushed to publish TREB’s housing data publicly online.

TREB had previously lost a battle at the Federal Court of Appeal in 2016 and was ordered to allow publishing of its housing data within 60 days. TREB appealed the ruling, taking it to the Supreme Court, but on August 23, the nation’s highest court denied the appeal, allowing the 2016 court ruling — to allow publication of sold data — to stand.

Even with this finality to the legal proceedings, there are still questions regarding when the order actually takes effect. TREB believes the 60 days preparation time started last Thursday, while the Competition Bureau believes the 60 days expired years ago. Depending on the interpretation, the argument could be made that those companies who have rushed to publish TREB’s housing data have violated the board’s rules (but not the Competition Bureau’s position).

Some firms, such as Zoocasa, a leading real estate sales brokerage operating in the GTA, was one of the first companies to publish home sales data without a password. But after only four days of easy access, Zoocasa went back to the password protecting its data. Zoocasa did not comment on their sudden changes in policy.

TREB made no comments about whether it would take any legal actions against Realtors and companies who have already published sold data publicly, though many real estate experts agree that TREB has little to no chance of getting its order to allow publication of housing data modified.

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Misael Lizarraga

Misael started as an English teacher in Mazatlan, Mexico but his passion was in real estate. Now, he works with a handful of clients reporting on real estate news from across the world under his primary business: