After a seven-year legal battle between the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and the Federal Competition Bureau — over making sales and other market information freely available to the public — the battle has come to an end. TREB lost.
The Supreme Court of Canada just announced that will not hear an appeal from TREB that would enable Canada’s largest real estate board. TREB was contesting former court rulings that will force them to remove member requirements about gate-keeping home sales data along with other information.
The legal battle began in 2011 when the competition Bureau made the case that by keeping sales data and other market information behind a membership and password protection wall — and legally requiring members to follow no-publish requirements — TREB was impeding competition and digital innovation.
TREB argued that making sales and market data freely available to the public constitutes a violation of consumer privacy and a copyright violation.
After losing two battles against the Competition Bureau, the latest being at the Federal Court of Appeal, TREB headed to the Supreme Court in a last ditch effort to protect its data access. Today’s decision means that TREB has now exhausted all of its options to fight against the publication of the data.
Sales data is stored in the multiple listing service (MLS) database. Prior to today’s decision, anyone who wanted access to more than just a list price needed to go through real estate agents and brokers, or pay a fee in order to get access. With this new ruling, some brokerages will immediately start publishing historical sold data on homes. It’s predicted that others will follow suit, given the demand by buyers and sellers for this information.