Kevin Crigger
Kevin Crigger

It’s not the most popular position to take, but Kevin Crigger, president of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, is unapologetic. TRREB wants the boards surrounding it and beyond to become partner boards as the country’s largest real estate board prepares to launch its new MLS system this fall.

Story continues below

Most Southern Ontario Realtors seem to agree that having one MLS system serving all boards would be an ideal situation. Members would pay just one membership fee to their local board – no need for dual memberships, buying subscriptions to other boards’ systems or interboard listings.

But when it comes to how this single system would be administered, there’s a sharp divide between TRREB and just about everyone else. In April, Information Technology Systems Ontario, which provides MLS listing content for 21 member boards and has a sharing agreement six other boards, sent an open letter to TRREB, asking it to share its data.

More recently, TRREB ended a data swap arrangement with the Oakville, Milton and District Real Estate Board. That board is currently considering what MLS service provider it will use, with a decision expected by the end of August. Joining TRREB as a partner board is one of the options that OMDREB is considering, but the board was unhappy with the way TRREB described the end of the data swap agreement to members.

An irritant for members of boards near Toronto is when TRREB members list out-of-town properties on TRREB’s MLS but not on the local board’s system. Recently a petition was launched by Blue Mountain area Realtors, asking CREA to make it mandatory to list homes on the board where the property is located.

“TRREB’s membership works across the province, as they are licensed to do. I think a cohesive MLS system, especially with the contiguous market, really makes a lot of sense,” says Crigger.

TRREB runs the largest MLS in the country, with more than 60,000 users. “I think TRREB offers an incredible opportunity for boards across the province to benefit from the extensive staffing and the massive investments in technology” that TRREB is putting into its MLS system, he says. “We have an incredible amount of experience and we have drafted and continued to update our rules on a regular basis. And that work is done by a dedicated group of volunteers who then make recommendations to our Board of Directors. The approach is very grassroots.

“At the end of the day, there’s one member paying membership dues,” says Crigger. “Our goal is always to look at how we provide that member with the highest possible value for the money spent.”

TRREB has had partner board arrangements with the Durham Region Association of Realtors and the Brampton Real Estate Board for more than 20 years, and recently the Northumberland Hills Association of Realtors also joined. The agreement allows members of all these boards to have full access to all listings on the board, under one set of rules and bylaws.

TRREB has made presentations to a number of other boards to become partner boards, and some of these discussions are ongoing. However, some boards are unwilling to give up control of their local MLS system, and TRREB has been accused of being inflexible when it comes to adapting its MLS rules to accommodate other boards’ needs.

The rules are all “with the intent of ensuring the integrity and security of data,” says Crigger. “But you know, if the system didn’t work and the system wasn’t effective, would we have the volume of active members on a daily basis that we do?

“I think there’s a lot of fear-mongering among some boards,” says Crigger. “They’ve created a false narrative and have been very attacking in their approach. And the reality is, we’ve never worked with them. They have no understanding of what our partnership board approach is.” He says the boards that have partnered with TRREB “have happily continued their relationship for greater than two decades. I’d ask these other boards where they have a 20-year relationship approach with any of their local associations.”

Crigger says that with a partnership, it’s the local boards that have the most to gain. For example, he says OMDREB currently has more than 700 dual members. If they became a partner board with TRREB they would no longer need to be members of TRREB. “So we would likely lose 700 members in the process. But in the interest of efficiency and providing the highest level of value to Realtor colleagues, we’re not concerned about that loss of membership because they are getting better value. They are not paying two sets of fees.”

Crigger says TRREB has no interest in having local boards fold or amalgamate.  “We really see the value in local grassroots representation. I think having boots on the ground for political advocacy, for community engagement is incredibly important. That local touch and local governance is incredibly important.”

He says partnering with TRREB offers local boards “the best of both worlds” because they don’t need to worry about their own MLS system.

“We’re not creating added layers of bureaucracy, additional costs to membership, additional levels of complication. If you look at Durham, I don’t think they function any differently than Oakville, for example. The only difference is that their MLS provider is TRREB, as opposed to a third party.”
He says the board is hoping to roll out some aspects of the new MLS system this fall. The system is described as a “modern, mobile-first new national front-end multi-list platform that merges land registry and MLS data”.  A preview of the system and FAQ section is available here.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Although I would like one, there will probably never be a one MLS system in Ontario. So, here’s a thought. Perhaps we need to change where we can sell Real Estate… oh oh, I hear groans. Right now, we can sell anything in Ontario. But maybe we should change this. Belong to one Board only, and only do business within that area. And if you have a Buyer for another area, or if mom and dad want to sell their home in a Board you don’t belong to, then ”refer” the business. That’s something we used to do 25 years ago. Do you know what it means?

  2. Interesting that the residential component of organized real estate (which controls MLSs) is now waking up to the solution that their commercial counterparts recognized as the answer to better business in the province – a province wide board/MLS. Two decades ago commercial Realtors in Ontario proposed a province wide commercial board to better serve their province wide activities. That got shot down by, you guessed it, the residential boards, OREA and their staff. Now that residential Realtors are ranging further afield, gee, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

  3. Proud DUAL Member of TRREB® and OMDREB® (one of 22 ITSO® MLS Boards) not-for-profit corporations that strive to be the preferred MLS® System and Technology provider for its Partner and Member Associations. With Dual Memberships we enjoy ALL MLS DATA in our Regional marketplaces across most Ontario.
    Who believes that it would be great solution towards “REALTOR professionalism” and brokerage efficiency if these two MLS entities (#TRREB and #ITSO) were to collaborate/Partnership to provide their Board Membership access to all the MLS data by either data sharing (Ontario-wide) or swapping (Regional Markets with “gap listings). Data Swap or Data Share works! Secure technology exists. (TRREB and OMDREB or RAHB and ITSO). It will take real /great Board Leadership to have all the MLS data in our regional marketplace or across Ontario accessible for REALTORS representing Ontario consumers and end users. #itsorealestate #orea #trreb #OntarioWideMLS #modestproposal #NoDualMembership #NoSubscription #NoInterBoard required #FutureMLStoday
    ITSO | Information Technology Systems Ontario (itsosystems.ca)
    TRREB | The TORONTO REGIONAL REAL ESTATE BOARD (trreb.ca)

  4. TRREB is always the bully in the room, and they are not very good at listening to their members. TRREB is like our city counsel; only concerned about their pay cheque and their pensions that we pay for. I would love to see a province wide MLS. It should be moved over to OREA and made province wide as a service not dependent on local membership. All of Ontario with the same access treated equally big or small. TRREB and other local boards could manage the tuck shop and perhaps some local educational courses. True leadership would recognize we are over serviced with multiple boards, it is time to “re-imagine” and “build back better”.

  5. I am part of the group of the 8 REALTORS who are members of SGBAR that have started the petition. We URGE everyone to go to http://chng.it/VjBMB2tX to sign this petition that says EVERY LISTING MUST BE LISTED ON THE BOARD WHERE THE PROPERTY IS GEOGRAPHICALLY LOCATED. Listing on an out of town board is NOT a problem, as long as it is ALSO LISTED LOCALLY. When you don’t do this, you are contravening not only CREA’s code, but RECO’s code of ethics as well. My issue with using the TRREB data system is that they have hardly ANY information in their listings. Compared to what is included on the ITSO listings, which are FULL of important info for a buyer and their REALTOR, the TRREB listing has very little useful data.

  6. Sounds like a marriage nearly on the rocks between TRREB and many of the other boards… maybe a mediator needs to be appointed to gel this whole 1 MLS system in a manner that all parties/boards can be happy with… 1 MLS system for Ontario makes a ton of sense but all parties have to feel that they are equal partners in this transition.

  7. For purposes only if for practicality, financially speaking, perhaps ALL boards in Ontario for those who practice all over the province, perhaps an amalgamation of boards into one critical base of operations might serve a lot of purpose because currently it seems that there might be unintentional misrepresentation both to members as to whether they get what they thought they were paying for in order to provide promised services to their listings? And to the public.

    I don’t know if it still applies, as in recent couple of years when I elected to put my licence on hold for medical reasons I no longer had board access to any information. But the board sharing arrangement between the then TREB and BREB had worked well for me. For decades. Brings to mind: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it theory. Systems/tech can change and still retain the strategy behind it all.

    In 1991 I had been a full fees paying dual member of both boards for 10 years, billings done through Corp head office as arranged with the two boards. I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention but learned that neither board appeared to do much for members and eventually I learned by sitting on various committees that board rules once RECO was in place preferred to pass issues over to RECO when possible. And that was actually physically inserted into the local board rules.

    I never did figure out what either board did for actual members except to relay political information. The local board had always control of the “mailbag.” And for years they physically input listings to the MLS system and related property sold info within strict timelines. With the advent of the Net in the mid 1990’s agents did their own input. Control out of board hands.

    Then the real magic enlightenment came when I opened my private sole operator (shareholder) corp boutique brokerage in 1991. Having disengaged from years at RLP I quickly discovered that a one person office was required to pay the same TREB board fees as a 200-800 agent office or franchise.

    So I had a big decision to make. Stay with home base board or drop off and just belong to TREB. The 10k, five for my personal broker fee and five for my sole shareholder Corp for old TREB membership plus my local board fees needed a think-through in my startup days.

    So the three of us: me, myself and I formed an ad hoc committee. And a decision was made. With access to the TREB info through the access agreement between the two boards my clients could have the best of both worlds.

    I would continue my career decade membership with BREB, and thoroughly take advantage of the benefits of the then TREB access agreement. It appeared the only thing I would miss was the opportunity to vote at the TREB of the day. That wasn’t worth 10k to me. All my listings appeared everywhere, fully as needed, not inter-boarded. THAT was the goal and the strategy needed to get my clients as much visibility as possible. When all is said and done the purpose of MLS is information sharing among colleagues. MLS in truth has no other purpose by definition.

    That’s what had prompted my recent REM comment about why I wanted to know what if any exit strategy was in place. And most people thought I was asking a weird question. Actually I was trying to be forward-thinking. Always the question: what if?

    At that timeframe BREB had lost nearly all its membership, down to just a couple hundred agents. A few dominate local players worked hard to keep the board alive, and I recognized the access agreement in place clearly had saved me ten thousand dollars, literally.

    But what would happen if the access agreement ceased to exist? No answer from the EO to that question. But I used that 10k would-be sole operator TREB fee (same $ that RLP and Re/max paid having huge numbers of agents) on intense open-up marketing advertising my listings in dozens of ways, locally and in Toronto and my listings sold quickly and for most high area-prices (in the middle of the giant late 80’s and early 90’s recession).

    Bearing in mind I was told many times in 1991: do you have rocks in your head? Don’t you know we are in a full-blown recession (I literally seriously had seen no signs of that recession even while at RLP). Who on earth would open a new real estate business in such an environment? Especially a never before at the time concept, a boutique brokerage with really odd bright rose and teal colours on bright white extra strong coroplast and bright white double coated powder-coated strong firm signs: all too girlie. Was I selling makeup, some wanted to know. Those colours were not businesslike in the real estate world I was repeatedly told. I was clearly “visible” in my market area and known for thinking outside the box, and that is only where I wanted to be. Local. And my clients had the best of both board systems.

    Oddly enough I maintained my trading area 24% market share. And never looked back. Nearly three more decades passed. I was driven by a force I didn’t completely understand but I did understand economies of scale. And I relied heavily on charts and graphs that supported important “local” information I shared with my clients. It didn’t matter to them or to me what was happening on the whole GTA, except in a peripheral sense. I never cold-called or door-knocked but my phone never stopped ringing. Why?

    So it might be worthwhile for TTREB to take a look at the old access agreement structure to build on for the future regardless of what tech MLS operative is chosen as the mainstay of TTREB? And to build a multi-purpose system that supports ALL Ontario licenced/ registered dues paying members equally? So they can fulfill their client contracts in the most efficacious expeditious way possible.

    Respectfully

    Carolyne L 🍁

  8. I think TRREB has a very good approach to solving this problem of “One Province, too many boards” at our expense. We all agree that having to pay to only one board, and the ability to list and search any listing from one portal makes better sense.

    Of course there will be adjustment hiccups. But in the end we will benefit, and more importantly, our clients will benefit immensely.

    (Incidentally, I have been an active TRREB member since 1987, and, have listed and sold in other jurisdictions). I now live in GTHA. I have many REALTOR(R) friends in many boards. I get the sense that smaller boards (or the members of the smaller boards) are afraid of losing listings. They are happy if a GTA buyer buys their listings. I don’t think technology will stop growing (or changing) with Matrix or ITSO (or any other newbies) making temporary ripples. Many ‘old-timers’ in smaller boards think FINTRAC or PIPEDA or Code of Ethics are only for ‘them guys’.

    The REAL stumbling block is, who defines “PARTNERSHIP”. And, it will raise it’s head from time to time. It is, and always will be, an uncomfortable feeling partnering with a much bigger/ powerful/ richer partner. (We Canadians know it too well).

  9. I’ve had extensive experience as a paying member with the Toronto Board, Hamilton Board, Barrie Board.
    I would say that after careful consideration the Toronto Board is the least member focused.
    Toronto Board has a lot to learn from other boards that provide superior service.
    The only way there can be improvements to the Toronto Board is to create 1 MLS system.

  10. It is actually TRREB that is isolating their membership from the rest of the Associations in Ontario. I can’t tell you how many TRREB reps I have spoken with who think when they list a property out of TRREB’s area that it automatically goes on all the other MLS systems. They are quite surprised when I tell them local REALTORS don’t know about their listing.

  11. Why would TREBB be creating their own MLS system? If they are looking for partnerships wouldn’t it make more sense to Use Matrix like the boards they want to partner with?

  12. Correction, the petition noted above is not from the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® (SGBAR) but from a group who are members of SGBAR. The Association is not involved.

  13. What they forgot to mention is partnering with TRREB isn’t solving the dual membership issue. We will still need the ITSO data from the 27 other boards. The answer is for TRREB to share data with ITSO like the other 6 boards do who aren’t members of ITSO. Problem solved. All data would be in one place and we could join whatever board we chose too.

  14. TRREB’s technology platform has been left far behind when compared to advances made by organizations like ITSO. Perhaps they should get their house in order before they pursue their expansionary plans. I think the regional boards are doing quite nicely now in terms of data sharing. This gives local Realtors an advantage when listing and selling properties in their geographic area of knowledge and expertise.

  15. How many members does ITSO’s 21 member boards represent? and how many are members of more than one board in Ontario?

    What’s the average all-in Fee/Dues/MLS cost for an individual registrant to operate on their home board for one yr?

    How many members does TRREB have (approx 60,000) and annual fees are about $750
    How many TRREB members are on more than one board ?

    Now the big question- is the soon-to-be released TRREB “multi-list” system a) better than the existing stratus and b) better than Matrix?

  16. TRREB is a predatory board. It is the worst of the worst. We need only one board and that is via OREA not TRREB…this a misguided predatory practice has been pursued by TRREB for a long time swallowing up all around it and endeavouring to be the master controller… while claiming to be a grassroots board…BS – TRREB is a massive GTA based board with one goal..to run all via TREBB and give it’s members cart-blanche authority to run rampant. The elimination of information brokering which TRREB is infamous for is also critical to give our customers what they demand. TREBB needs to be sanctioned input back in it’s big ugly box and let what’s already happening happen by natural amalgamation and progression towards….one board for all, on MLS system for all and one set of province wide processes and practises and ultimately one mgt board. There is no place in todays “SAP like” world for any single local board albeit TREBB or any other that is not province wide. The local model we have been operating under is also a requiem for a dinosaur. The costs savings and streamlined opeational efficiencies available to one set of cohesive systems and processes is an exponentially better world than the TREBB proposition. Shame on you TREBB! You are a dangerous snake in the weeds. One for all on all for one and let’s get there through continued amalgamation and systems integration via OREA!
    Todd Corradetti – Broker and Former NA Executive and Leader in Exxon-Mobil’s WW SAP and Business Process Reengineering Team

    • This type of commentary is one of the reasons why we are not seeing an MLS system that is best for members. If boards partner with TRREB, then the members of those boards are treated the same as the members of TRREB itself. We already enjoy these benefits of BREB members but now have to pay for two board memberships which is necessary only due to the short-sightedness of some boards. TRREB does what is best for its members and partner boards and I am more than happy to be included under that umbrella.

      • Why does TRREB not join ITSO which have even more members and would be a better over all solution for all? There is only one reason. Egos.

  17. I concur with Mr. Chiggers commentary. Isn’t it the job of a listing agent to expose the listed property to tge greatest number of eyeballs possible? That being said, having one MLS system provincial would do just that and all REALTORS would then be in a position if knowledge on all listings in their respective market areas. The duplication of real estate boards is both costly and archaic.

    • You are correct Gord. What may be necessary is a major lawsuit from a Seller who believes that their property was not properly exposed by not being on both ORTIS (or its more recent manifestation) and the TRREB boards. By not listing on TRREB there is enormous potential exposure being missed and this is certainly to the detriment of sellers. Sure there is inter-boarding an dual memberships but this is archaic. PARTNERSHIP is the answer.

    • Right but yet you see hundreds of TRREB members not listing the home on local boards. All they need to do is an interboard listing yet they are 1. Ignorant of the fact 2. Too lazy. Either are not acceptable.

  18. This is absolutely the best solution for individual Realtors through the GTA and beyond. It is a shame that many real estate boards still do not see this reality and resist a partnership for several reasons, most of them having to do with protectionism and personalities. We are now in 2021 and it is long overdue that local boards do what is best for their members and establish these partnerships.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here