October 24th was the much awaited day that the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) voted on the agreement in principle that was reached between the Competition Bureau and the CREA.
CREA, which represents approximately 100,000 Real Estate Agents throughout Canada, had come to an agreement with the Competition Bureau on September 30th, 2010 and finally on October 24th in a special meeting in St Johns, Newfoundland. CREA and the Bureau have had been battling for the past three years.
In February, Ms. Melanie Aitken, commissioner of the Competition Bureau filed charges with the Competition Tribunal against CREA saying its actions were anti-competitive. By March CREA had amended its own rules to allow a la carte services to be offered through the MLS® but had left in a provision that could allow local boards to opt out. This change allowed business models such as www.oneflatfee.ca to open shop and offer discounted Real Estate services.
Under the agreement the public will not get direct access to the MLS® or the website realtor.ca — something the Bureau was not seeking. The MLS® system that is owned and managed by CREA is a member to member organization and continues to remain so. The changes that have been approved are to stay in effect for 10 years.
Even though a host of companies might try to get on the Flat Fee Realty band wagon, it is important to know some basic facts. The MLS® system has 2 ends to it. One side is the www.mls.ca which is now called www.realtor.ca. This is the version that the public sees. The other side to it is www.mlslink.mlxchange.com. This version is what the Realtors go to sign in and see the properties including the commission being offered to the buyer’s agent etc. Even though some companies might offer Flat Fee MLS® listings on www.realtor.ca for a discounted price your property is not exposed to Realtors® and hence no Realtor® will bring in an offer simply because he/she does not see it. This can be very detrimental to the seller. Unless you do not mind waiting for a private buyer to come by and make a deal you stand to be at a disadvantage compared to the other properties in the marketplace.
When we list a property, it will always go on both, the public site and the Realtor® site.
Exciting times are definitely ahead. We at www.oneflatfee.ca are celebrating our 135th listing. We are also extremely proud to announce our upcoming launch in Ontario. We should be up and running in the province of Ontario by the first week of December.