While there are a few ways to get sold data for real estate in Canada, the easiest (and probably cheapest way) is to work with a real estate agent. That’s because in most provinces sold data is considered part of a person’s right to privacy and, as a result, 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 to do the work but that’s expensive.)
It’s one reason why Canada is currently facing a discussion on whether or not sold data should be made public, but we aren’t the first country to tackle this thorny issue. In America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, 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 tech-disrupter websites, like U.S.-based Zillow and Trulia, and New Zealand’s Trade Me Property App 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.
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, including historical sales information on individual properties. However, TREB has appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, who has yet to decide whether or not to hear the case. Until then, real estate brokerages and agents are still legally restricted on what data they can release publicly.
To get an idea as to how Canada’s rules stack up, we examined how data in real estate transactions are handled in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. in this infographic.