The Toronto Real Estate Board has been in a legal battle concerning price history and property market trends since 2011. They argued that data about what homes sold for violated consumer privacy, and therefore should only be available to realtors. Previously, in order for a customer to see the data for themselves, they’d have to hire a realtor or pay to access the records at Teranet or local land registry office. The problem wasn’t that the data wasn’t available at all, but that it wasn’t available without paying for it. We’ve published blogs in the past that contained housing data (such as the best places to buy a condo in Vaughan or Mississauga), but the majority of people didn’t have access to data like that.
Yesterday, August 23, 2018, the TREB lost its bid to appeal an earlier decision that would force them to release the data. Now, TREB must allow members to publish the data if they want. The data will still come from real estate agents, but many real estate agencies have already promised to release it at no cost (although you may have to make a free account).
Access to more data is never a bad thing for customers. At worst, they’ll ignore it. At best, it will allow people to see if a home is being overvalued relative to other houses in the neighbourhood.
Much of what determines a home’s value is the location. We can see that brought to extremes in cities like Vancouver, where a burned down home can ask for $4 million and the realtor can still be confident it will sell – the value is entirely in the land.
Without sales data, no one would know what a home actually sold for, only what it was listed for. Not only that, but the data will also reveal how many times a property has been listed.
Some properties can remain on the market for a long time without being sold. The longer a property remains listed, the more likely it is to gain a bad reputation. “Why isn’t it being sold? There must be something wrong with it.” If a property has been listed too long, the realtor can pull the listing and relist it, resetting the days on market (DOM) counter.
That leaves buyers potentially in the dark. Because you previously couldn’t see how long a property has been listed, only whether or not it’s currently listed, homes could keep their DOM low. With listing data being available to everyone, there’s no way for a realtor to hide a home’s bad reputation with a new listing.
Armed with this new data, homebuyers can see for themselves if
a) The home is being listed for a similar amount to what other properties actually sold for
b) The home has been listed for a long time with no buyers
c) The home is a “flip”
If only one home was for sale in a small area, the only price data a homebuyer would have is the current listing value.
This house is listing for $500,000. Is it worth that much?
It would be up to your realtor to let you know if it was a fair price.
Now, when you’re house hunting, you’ll be able to see this:
This house last sold for $430,000.
At first glance, you can see that no house has been sold for that much, and the last time that house sold it was for $430,000. Why the sudden jump? Is it because of a greedy seller?
If you look at the listing date, you might notice this:
The last time it sold was one month ago. That means this home is a flip!
Perhaps the people that bought the house to flip actually did improve the value by $70,000. Perhaps not. But you’ll have the knowledge, and will be able to make an informed decision.
The TREB has 60 days to comply with the court decision. Keep an eye on listings in your area for previous sold data when you’re out shopping!
Not intended to solicit parties under an exclusive contract with a brokerage. MLS®, REALTOR®, and the associated logos are trademarks of the Canadian Real Estate Association. RebateRealty Inc, is an Ontario licensed Real Estate Brokerage TREB® & CREA® The listing data is provided under copyright by the Toronto and Brampton Real Estate Board - TREB® and BREB®. The listing data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board nor RebateRealty Inc., Brokerage. © 2017