Eight Ontario Realtors who sent a letter to the Canadian Real Estate Association this summer asking for changes to a problematic listings issue are not happy with the association’s response.

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The group is seeking to make it mandatory for Realtors to list a property on the real estate board MLS system where the property is geographically located.

They maintain that the current system deprives local Realtors, as well as buyers and sellers, of important and necessary information about their own market.

However, in a letter dated September 10, CREA CEO Michael Bourque writes that the association does not have the ability to mandate that Realtors place their listings on particular MLS systems.

“Frustration,” says Sherry Rioux, broker at Clairwood Real Estate Corporation is what she and her seven Collingwood-area colleagues felt when they read the letter. “We weren’t surprised, and I won’t say defeated because we’re not done, mostly just frustration and that they (CREA) didn’t really address the issue.”

Without the listing information, says Rioux, local Realtors are unable to advise their buyers, and furthermore, sellers may not even realize their property isn’t being shared with local Realtors.

Bourque does suggest a number of other actions that Realtors who are dissatisfied with the current system can take. But Rioux says their letter to CREA had already outlined all those options and why each one was not viable or practical.

“We already know I can join three other boards,” says Rioux, “but even if I do, for my consumer, they’re not getting all the information when I set a client up on a property search. If I search several boards, they will in some cases get the same listing two or three times. How professional does that look? Then they think it’s the Realtor, they’re not listening, why is this not streamlined?”

Bourque says mandating that Realtors place their listings on particular MLS systems could be viewed as CREA interfering with independent business decisions of listing Realtors, and that requiring them to incur efforts and costs against their wishes raises a number of issues including potential competition law concerns.

“Joining another board is against my wish,” says Rioux, “I can’t do my job if I don’t join the others, and the cost is far less onerous to post a listing than joining another board.” Rioux also counters CREA’s “potential competition law concerns,” saying she’s been told this is not anti-competitive. “In my opinion it’s the exact opposite. I can’t compete if I don’t have the information.”

She does have one final question for the association. “If CREA can’t help us, who can? They’re the Canadian Real Estate Association, they should be able to guide us.”

Rioux says she learned that the Real Estate Council of Ontario doesn’t have jurisdiction over the MLS, so that leaves one other governing body – the Ontario Real Estate Association.

“Would OREA consider creating a provincial agreement for boards or associations to sign, agreeing to mandate members to post listings to the geographical board where the property is located? That is the question,” says Rioux.

Here she gleans some hope from the B.C. example, which resolved a similar problem when member boards of the British Columbia Real Estate Association signed a pledge of co-operation. “I think CREA should be reminded again what they agreed to with the B.C. Real Estate Association in 2000.”

A possible stumbling block is getting all the boards, including the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), to agree.  B.C. had only 12 boards, whereas Ontario has roughly three times as many.

Meanwhile the online petition Rioux and her colleagues started in June to urge CREA to resolve the problem has been gaining support. The number of signatures has grown from 341 in July, shortly after it was posted, to 1,265 in late September.

“We’re going to keep it up and post the response that CREA gave and explain why it’s not satisfactory and ask people to continue supporting the cause,” says Rioux.

“Our plan would be to increase the public’s access to the petition and inform them why this change is crucial when acting in a client’s best interest.”



    I don’t normally voice my opinions much, as truthfully I don’t think anyone listens or that it will make a difference, but I will break my norm for this topic.

    We are all licensed Realtors in Canada. We’ve gone to school, been tested repeatedly, we pay fees at all levels of government, we are mandated and governed by law and a Code of Ethics and we assume fiduciary duties in a client level relationship. But yet, we think it’s necessary to have divisive Boards across every geographic territory in order to access property listings. It’s ludicrous, insane and archaic!!

    Some time ago (a long time ago) local Boards served a valuable function, but that was in the day of the hot sheets. These listings were provided on paper (imagine) and needed to be copied and redistributed to local Realtors.

    Today we have something called the internet with massive database abilities and for reaching accessibility. There is absolutely NO NEED for independent or regional area boards any more.

    In a day and age where the public access to data is increasing and our most valuable tool (which is the data shared between us) is getting more and more compromised, isolated and degraded, how on earth can we justify keeping data private amongst ourselves?

    Truly we are our own worst enemies and are forgetting that collaboration, not isolation is our most valuable tool. And if you want proof of that, go check out real estate in other parts of the world other than Canada or the United States. What’s the point of having organized real estate (MLS) when the members themselves want to keep it away from each other?

    Anyway… maybe it’s time to just slow down and think of modern day solutions, not temporary fixes upon foundations that are no longer strong or supportive.

    • Hi Brian:


      I’ve been advocating herein for years that Realtors should withhold all dues to these make-work-for-themselves bureaucratic organizations…including CREA and all provincial organizations. This overlapping of governance is worse than the United Nations’ lefty bureaucrats’ navel-gazing activities as located in New York. Imagine: bureaucrats with no real-life experience deciding how entrepreneurs like Realtors should operate!

      Are my ideas over the top? Maybe, but how else to get the attention of ambivalent followers of the mob?

      • I make no judgement on any political sides or opinions. I just look at effectiveness and overall benefit. To me this one just seems like common sense.

        I can appreciate the position that local Realtors would (should) know there local area very well and better than someone who is not local. But that knowledge and expertise is a value ‘proposition’ not an imposition. So, when a buyer or seller sees the value in that local Realtor, then the benefit becomes a choice and a decision.

        In the end, the root problem is still the access to information. As Realtors we should ALL have access to listing data no matter where in Canada it may reside. As a concession, I would settle for Provincial databases.

        • “ I can appreciate the position that local Realtors would (should) know there local area very well and better than someone who is not local.”

          This may have been applicable 20 years ago, however many realtors have the experience and knowledge of multiple communities in Ontario.
          I myself have working knowledge and experience living Burlington/Hamilton, Richmond Hill, Barrie, Collingwood communities.
          That is my earned advantage, and benefits my clients by helping them relocate to different communities.
          We realtors are licensed to sell in Ontario.

  2. This has been requested many times. No action for CREA.
    BrokerPocket is doing something interesting where they amalgamate all the listings in Ontario for brokers to see. Not public facing however.

  3. Close Boards like Sarnia are shooting themselves in the foot and doing their vendors a huge disservice.
    No board in this day and age should be closed for their own selfish reasons. The technology is there.

  4. Its these outside area boards that are the holdouts refusing to join with the larger boards causing their own issues!! Then many of these areas have some old school us vs them mentalities and won’t show the properties of out of town agents, I have been told this over the years in areas like Port Perry and Lindsay actually experiencing it with amount of showings on properties I have listed there. I have actually been told this by local agents that I know in those areas that this exists so let them cry foul on deaf ears in my opinion. Most of the buyers these days are from outside those areas so they are forced to show them now. Obviously this isn’t most agents but the fact that it exists is brutal.

  5. You/we have Identified the problem – not all listings appear on every board.

    This often occurs because the Listing Brokerage, taking a listing ‘anywhere in Ontario’ as per their registration, only places that listing on their Home board MLS(tm) because of the cost and paperwork hassle of putting it anywhere else.

    If you/we solve the Cost and Paperwork hassle of Inter-boarding and the problem almost goes away.

    Establish ONE MLS(tm) for all Ontario and there is no longer any problem (except Toronto’s +60,000 Realtors WILL continue to List & Sell outside their -now banned- jurisdiction).

  6. Good thinking, as usual, Sherry. I expect that eventually there will be one Board in Ontario, but I expect that I will be dead before that happens!
    How do I sign your petition?
    I believe that a Property For Sale should always be listed on the MLS where it is located, first. Then it may also be listed in other areas if the Owner or the Listing Agent thinks that is a good idea.

  7. It would seem all we need to ask ourselves is, who is our customer? And, is what we are currently doing, the very best absolute way to serve our customer, our client??


  8. You are right! My whole 35 year career has been going outside my Board. When I work with a Client and then not be able to still find the perfect property for them, I give them a choice, refer them or go with them.
    99.9 percent chose the latter.
    I never show any properties until I check Realtor.ca
    We must do the work for our Clients if we want to keep them. I really don’t know what the problem is then, do you??
    I would Love for all of us to be connected through one Board, but I am not going to hold my breath.
    Thank you for posting your opinion.

  9. CREA is scared to death of the Competition Bureau after the great fiasco of 10 or 11 yrs ago, where CREA “caved in” to them, by letting private entities advertise on our MLS!

    • This is not ANTI COMPETITIVE. We even checked with the Anti Competitive Bureau and they had no problem with this. In my opinion, when you don’t make your listing available to the realtor who lives and works in that region, you are being ANTI Competitive. We need this to stop!

  10. Its typical of our associations
    One more reason to get ride of CREA AND OREA.
    Two totally useless organizations that do nothing for R E A L T O R S That foot the bill for them to do nothing for us but make up new rules to justify their igsistance

  11. This whole noise about nothing started from the cottage country registrants. They want access to TRREB data for nothing and yet want to force TRREB agents to spend time and money for inter-boarding their listings of properties that are out of TRREB geographic area. Can’t you smell the stink of entitlement here?
    If in opinion of some, listing agents are doing disservice to their clients by not inter-boarding a listing, then buyers agent are equally negligent by not spending the time and money to research out of board listings.

    • We should not have “you” and “we” mindset.
      For the integrity of our MLS data we need to have 1 MLS system.
      Without integrity of our data, our worth diminishes.

      • Further, every board’s MLS system is being compromised daily with incomplete data.
        TRREB, BDAR etc etc…..

      • I agree with you Rita. Let’s move into the next century – we should all be on the same 1 MLS network/platform – in this day of Technology it’s also easy to do. Ridiculous. And we all wonder why other platform (not naming any) have much improved data platforms. perhaps it’s also time we get some say on who in CREA gets to be set expectations on where our progress lies.

    • You are 100% wrong. I have NO interest in TRREB data. I do not sell in Toronto, nor do I list outside of my board. But I can tell you, that if I did, I would 100% be posting on the board where the property is located. Give me 1 good reason why not to do this.

    • House Sigma though handy.. is a dangerous lie…projections are misleading and false..and unscientific. It “skews” data and misrepresents…yet the public and realtors at large are drawn to its ease…lesson there to be learned I think??

      • Agreed. Besides who owns House Sigma and what happens to all the data – how is managed and what if it is sold to various marketing platforms. We should learn from lessons of the past TRREB mls data when the contract was not renewed. We dont have that data anymore.
        We need one platform for Ontario to start with and shared data amongst all Ontario Realtors.

    • I signed up to House Sigma so I could see sale prices in other boards fir properties I was showing in those areas. I declared as required that I am. Realtor, then got a message that we aren’t allowed an account.

      I asked my board if it broke VOW rules, but crickets!

  12. There are ways to keep track of listings on other boards simply by checking on realtor.ca. I often have buyers outside of my board (TREB) and have been very successful finding them the right properties even though I do not have access to the board on which the property has been placed. Realtors must do their due diligence these days when working with buyers. If a realtor expects that they can just sit in front on the computer and wait for the listing to pop up then they are not doing the best job for the buyer. Perhaps those 8 realtors think that a realtor outside their board should not be selling homes to the buyers inside that board. Sounds like competition issues to me.

    • I agree if I go outside of TREB I watch realtor.ca then I reach out to the fellow realtor and request the MLS and ask any questions I may have and it seems to have not been a burden for me for over 25 years

    • It sounds like your struggling with obtaining listings in your own board area and realtors are going to do what they need to survive. It would be my opinion that any listings should be marketed in the local area board for maximum exposure for the sellers to do your utmost for the sellers. If it requires a some extra time and money for the realtor we should be mandated to submit these listings to the local boards before the listings are processed for sellers. I am doing my part for out of area sellers to market the properties to the best of my abilities for my sellers in submitting these listings to the their local boards before the listings are activated. Let’s think 🤔 is this the best I can do for my clients.

      • I can’t speak for others, but I can tell you that the realtors who join me on this committee are some of the most successful in the area and not struggling to get listings. We want what is best for consumers AND Realtors alike…access to information that allows us to do our job.

    • The problem runs deeper. When a realtor prepares a CMA, they will not have complete sales of homes. Why? Because the property did not get inputted until the local board.
      How impressed do you think your sellers would be if 2 or 3 comparable in their neighbourhood were not used to prepare the CMA because the data was missing?

      That is not looking after the best interest of the clients. Surely I can see litigation against the brokerage and realtors arising from this, not to mention RECO discipline.

      • Expanding my comment,

        While preparing the CMA the realtor was not aware a property around the corner from their clients property sold for $80,000 more than any other sales in the area.
        Why didn’t the realtor know?
        The listing was not input into local board.
        Disservice, open to liability etc etc…

        • You can say the exact same thing about private and/or exclusive listings which are never reported on any board. So really unless you eliminate those scenarios your data will always be skewed!

      • I doubt there would be any reason for disciplinary action to be imposed.

        How can there be? it would mean every CMA prepared lacks all sales information because if for example A Realtor in Mississauga prepares a CMA for a property in Burlington, to have done the amount of diligence you suggest they would have to also and at least check sales made solely on TRREB, Oakville-Milton and Hamilton.

        Not to mention, exclusive listings and non-MLS listed FSBOs also affect price, neither of which is known.

        • Which means PED, that most all appraisals conducted by accredited appraisers are simply educated guesses made by oftentimes biased appraisers who use as few as three carefully chosen comparables to render their expert opinions of values. What a crock. I ought to know; I worked as one for over five years. Possessing a university degree–as did I—to qualify for candidacy, and then completing many more so-called university level courses over those years simply allowed me to officially spin opinions of value any which way I wanted. As long as the boss signed off on them, all was good. If I didn’t hit the target, he wouldn’t sign off. It was very easy to hit the targets the lenders wanted. We did a ton of business. Another corrupt business, one might suspect? Could be.

          I’m sure commercial appraisals are another kettle of fish altogether.

        • “it would mean every CMA prepared lacks all sales information because if for example A Realtor in Mississauga prepares a CMA for a property in Burlington, to have done the amount of diligence you suggest they would have to also and at least check sales made solely on TRREB, Oakville-Milton and Hamilton.”

          Yes, precisely why we need to make it mandatory to post listing in the board property is located in, while we wait for 1 MLS system.
          We as an industry have advanced greatly, and presenting incomplete data to our clients is unacceptable, and unprofessional.

          • You can say the exact same thing about private and/or exclusive listings which are never reported on any board. So really unless you eliminate those scenarios your data will always be skewed!

    • You are right! My whole 35 year career has been going outside my Board. When I work with a Client and then not be able to still find the perfect property for them

    • I agree with you, Cynthia. That’s what a lot of Realtors do. However, the realtor.ca website does not give all details of a property as the individual board MLS listing does. Sometimes listing agents take long to respond to a request for their board listings. Some don’t even respond. And there lies the issue.

      • Realtor.ca listings are useless to a good realtor who requires much more detail than you can get from that platform. We need to be able to see ALL the info, history etc. in order to do our jobs.

  13. In our Board, Rideau-St Lawrence it does not cost anything to interboard a listing that is located within our board geographical location. Admittedly there is extra paperwork to do. We have to interboard some of our listings on the Kingston board as although they are in our board area, they are on the border of the Kingston area. We feel this is only fair to the Sellers. We are fortunate that our board joined with Ottawa a few years ago to give better access and visibility for our listings as well as research and searches for our buyer clients.

  14. Considering Simcoe County is covered by 5 different boards it’s ridiculous to list a home on a local board when the buyers are likely to come from the Toronto board. Time to cut out the nonsense and make it all one. Doubt that will ever happen since the rest of Ontario cut out TRREB. By the way more sales are on TRREB now than the Barrie board making the information on that board inaccurate.

    • The rest of the province banded together because TREB won’t bend their own ridiculous and dated rules. Get with the times

  15. “They maintain that the current system deprives local Realtors, as well as buyers and sellers, of important and necessary information about their own market.”

    It’s worth repeating, that by not making it mandatory for all realtors to post MLS listing on the board the property is geographically located in, is a disservice to the sellers. How?
    Imagine a homeowner lists their home with a Toronto realtor and the property is located in Barrie, and the listing is not post it on the Barrie board, the property has less exposure and may net the seller less money. This should be a cause of concern to the real estate industry, because we are not serving the best interest of our clients.

    I also strongly believe that OREA has the capacity to fix this.

      • “In 1922, a handful of volunteers formed the Ontario Association of Real Estate Boards (OAREB), with a vision to organize real estate activities province-wide and to bring higher standards to the profession”

        ….bring higher standards to the profession.

        • All of the seperate boards maintain their own data of information.
          2020 and 2021 brought buyers out of GTA in all different directions and distances.
          It has always been more work if you want to work with your clients outside of your board area. Refer them to a specialized agent in that area. Because there are exclusive and private listing sales, redevelopment and other info that you would not have knowledge of.
          I see it as realtor greed and a very big disservice to your client.
          Just some thoughts from a seasoned realtor.
          If you live near provincial or other borders this type of frustration will always exist. And you wouldn’t be happy.

          Realtor.ca and companies that post all or most sales data in Ontario have pivoted around many obstacles.

          • You are absolutely correct! One of the best and truest posts ever made on REM. A perfect example, just one of many hundreds over the years where I referred business coming and going. I drove a full size vehicle and never spent more than 900$ a year on gas, for starters.

            90% of my local business over the years came within a few square miles, made up of about 70% sellers and the rest, buyers most of whom had been sellers. I typically had as many as 35 transactions each year that were referrals coming and going, but most transactions were within a few miles of my office.

            I always remember one buyer referral in particular about twenty minutes away that I sent out to the Islington area to a well known RLP area rep. She thought I was crazy and lazy. But took the referral, being area qualified.

            My seller’s midsize spotless residential property sold through MLS. Sellers wanted a condo apartment in an area where i wasn’t qualified to protect them, about which I knew nothing. I explained in detail that the best service I could provide would be to refer them to an agent who worked the area they wanted to live in. At first they didn’t understand because it was just a short drive away. It was still subagency days. And I took my reputation seriously.

            But the referral agent was so shocked. She said I must be crazy. She was only twenty minutes away. Why would I refer my sellers as buyers. I knew her area and the whole of Toronto like the back of my hand or a taxi driver… I could go there with my eyes closed.

            But I would be doing my clients a dis-service because I knew nothing about the area from the real estate perspective. I knew generalities historically speaking about which intersections were better than others and knew I was doing the best by referring out my very nice clients.

            By doing so I was also protecting myself and my career, freeing up my time to provide best in class service to my local buyers and sellers.

            Was I being selfish? Some agents thought so. Getting paid sizeable referral cheques for essentially doing nothing they said. Lazy? Other colleagues thought so. But it worked for decades for me. And protected my local reputation and took away danger of working in an area where I knew nothing about real estate values.

            Listing signs always had babies, attracting more listings in a given area. And I didn’t want to do that. There was an opportunity to list a century home near the bus depot in the local downtown area. The sellers had called me.

            I had never helped a buyer seller there so I referred the listing to a senior lady in my own office and never even took a referral. She didn’t do much business but had been around forever and would serve the seller well. And did.

            She and I never ever discussed the property. My branch manager thought I was ridiculous. But I served the seller well by not taking that listing. And again freeing up my time to serve my local area clients best. I had never worked the location and knew from nothing about the gingerbread historical wartime property.

            Everybody won. “My” system worked for me and for the clients. But my system needed explaining because it wasn’t that I didn’t want the clients. I saw referring as protecting them – and me.

            Carolyne L 🍁

    • Most buyers are doing a search themselves and find it on whatever platform they are using. If you’re searching out of area and don’t belong to the local board then you’ll end up using the same platform as you’re clients to search. I’m finding more on TRREB now and less on the Barrie Board, most buyers are coming from the south, you’re not missing any potential buyers. Let’s face it, most agents seem to have forgotten how to price a home and grossly underprice them so they don’t have to figure it out. That’s been the real problem in our market.

  16. Too many fingers in the pie, and only one thumb.

    I believe too many are operating under the mistaken impression that when push comes to shove boards of all stripes are there for the membership’s concerns, first and foremost. I think not. It’s an illusion folks. We’re talking politics here. Every living thing’s actions, including humans’, boils down to self preservation. It’s human nature. If the masses want change, they must force it. No umbrella organization enjoying the fruits of others’ labours—the peons—guts itself from the inside just because the peons are unhappy with current policies. Starve them out of their power over you. Without your money they have no power. Radical? Yessiree Bob. Ask yourselves this: Who the hell’s working for whom? Right now, obviously you all are working for the bureaucrats, specifically in Ontario, the O.R.E.A. et al bureaucrats and their elected officials who just may be too closely tied into income streams they don’t want to give up. Conspiracy theory, you say? Maybe. Maybe not. I opt for the latter. But what do I know? I’m just an old fashioned skeptic at heart. How many of you are skeptical about what’s going on within your overlords’ organizations…members of those organizations reaping the benefits of your hard-earned dues dollars, who want to keep things just as they are? The elected types cycle in and out, but seemingly espouse the same well-worn mantra: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But the question is thus: Who ain’t it broke for? Them…or you guys/gals? The answer seems obvious to anyone who stops and thinks about it for a few minutes.

    • Brian Martindale – how dare you use ‘logic’ and ‘rational thought’ and ‘critical thinking’ to try and solve this issue. Put your head back in the ground like the rest of us! It’s easier, and gets us through each election period, which is all that matters! The system’s flawless – if our CEOs and lifer-volunteer-leaders are telling us not to support decisions that render themselves obsolete – they must be working for the greater good and we must nod our heads in compliance.

      Forever, and ever, and ever, yours,*

      *We don’t believe that proptech is a thing

  17. Until the 37 Boards in Ontario become 1, this and many other problems will never be solved. You change – no you change, seems to be the thinking rather than let’s all make a change for the good of our members.


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