A group of Ontario Realtors has started a petition to end a long-standing practice regarding listings that they say prevents Realtors from being able to do their jobs and puts home buyers and sellers at a distinct disadvantage.

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“The biggest problem is when an out-of-town Realtor lists a property on their own board but not locally where the property is located,” says Sherry Rioux, broker at Clairwood Real Estate in Collingwood, Ont. She’s one of eight Blue Mountain area Realtors who have started a petition to all for an urgent change.

“Because we aren’t aware of the listing, therefore we’re not advising our buyers and we don’t even think the sellers realize that their property isn’t being shared with local Realtors.”

The issue has become particularly acute during the pandemic. Now that more people are working from home, many Torontonians, for example, realized they could work anywhere and have been moving to more affordable towns in the past 16 months. At the same time, some Toronto-based real estate agents have been taking listings from places outside the Greater Toronto Area and listing them on the Toronto MLS system, without also listing them on

the local board’s system. The result is that local Realtors are often left uninformed about what is happening in their own market.

The petition, started by Rioux and seven other members of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of Realtors (but not endorsed by the association), asks CREA to make it mandatory to list a home in the geographical area where it is located.

Rioux says the petition was posted online in late June and as of July 21, it received 341 signatures.

The Realtors also sent a three-page letter to CREA (and 41 brokerage members of SGBAR) outlining the problem in more detail and calling for change.

“Sellers are also at a disadvantage,” says Rioux, “when the listing agent is trying to find comparables and data, in order to decide the price to list or buy at when the local agent doesn’t have access to any of the data because it wasn’t listed locally. So we’re not operating in the buyer’s or seller’s best interest.

“When we’d negotiate an offer, the listing Realtor would say, ‘The house down the street sold for x dollars,’ and we’d say, ‘What house?’  We weren’t even aware of that sale because it was listed on another board and we didn’t have that data.”

These types of issues, says Rioux, put local Realtors in the position of possibly contravening CREA’s Realtor Code, through no fault of their own, because they are unable to protect and promote their client’s interests.

The issue is not new. “One of the agents who commented on one of our Facebook groups said he’s tried to change this for over 30 years,” says Rioux.

She says it was a letter to the editor on REM that prompted her to finally speak out. The letter was from a Realtor complaining about being unaware of a particular property for sale in his town because it did not appear on his local listings. That’s when Rioux and seven

other Realtors – all from different brokerages – formed an ad hoc group to try and “get things moving.”

The group believes the status quo is not working. Rioux says without access to the listings, the Realtor is left feeling “uneducated and unprepared about the local market.

“We can all pay huge fees to join other boards, but why should we have to … when I already belong to my own board?”

In addition, she says, clients often check realtor.ca, which is open to the public, but not a site that sales reps typically rely on. “It’s forcing us to go on all these public sites to find properties not listed on our local real estate board listings.”

The letter to CREA also suggests that fines be issued to any brokerage that does not list a property locally. “Inter-board listings,” the letter reads, “should be processed in a timely manner, such as within 24 hours of listing on a home board. Currently when a SGBAR member lists on TRREB, we can wait up to seven to 10 days to see our listing on their board. The offer date has often passed by the time it gets listed on another board!”

Will a truly provincial MLS ever happen? “Everybody’s been begging for one common data system,” says Rioux. “If all of Ontario used the same data system it could eliminate this problem, but until that’s done, it’s highly unlikely.”

Rioux says she has not heard back from CREA yet.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Unfortunately, CREA seems more concerned about promoting realtor.ca then it does about caring about the individual MLS systems. They think they are doing all Realtors, and their Sellers, a big favour by having a website that promotes all the listings at once. To me, it forces Buyer consumers to search there, instead of searching on local sites, and it also forces Buyer consumers not to have a Realtor on their side at the outset. In other words, they are not asking for a Realtor to find them properties, since they can just go to realtor.ca and search privately. Big, Big, mistake in my opinion. CREA is screwing this industry in reverse, and making it too easy for consumers not to use us. All this, coupled with the inexcusable inability to not post your listing on the local board where the home is, because of sheer neglect, inefficiency, and wanting to save that extra hundred bucks, means we have a problem.

    I’ll sign the petition, but letters and a long list of names probably won’t promote any action. Gee, I wonder if 40,000 Realtors decided not to pay their CREA dues next time around would get some attention…

  2. I’m out here in sunny Alberta so I certainly won’t be aware of some Ontario dynamics, but over the years it is my belief we have also seen an increase in agents listing properties they are not familiar with in markets they are not familiar with simply because technology allows it, and this is contrary to our code of ethics.
    It initially seems to me a rule such as is being proposed is not the answer, as consumers have freedom to choose whomever they want to list their property and this strikes me as an attempt to bar out of town Realtors (who should know better anyways than to list properties in areas they are not members of), but perhaps maybe enforcing the code of ethics is the answer?
    For example, Norm is on to something with his comment asking if the seller has been properly informed. Perhaps a mandatory written disclosure and consent form in these situations would be a better solution?
    Perhaps a letter to the out of town board and/or brokerage confirming the agent is knowledgeable in the area AND is properly servicing the client as is our duty?

  3. Does a realtor who lists a property without being a member of a local board, inform the seller that their listing will NOT be listed on the local board MLS and that most local agents will have no idea that their home is for sale and that the majority of homes sold locally are sold by agents that are unaware their home is listed. Not likely

  4. I have had as many as three board memberships at one time in order to serve clients and customers so YES we need one MLS system for the province. In fact one system for the country would make as much sense especially since CREA operates Realtor.ca. The sooner we rectify this the better because I already have clients pointing out other sources of information that they use to get property information without even asking me for it. “The times they are a changin” and if we aren’t careful we will become irrelevant.

  5. Thanks for letting people know about our petition. There should be a correction in the article that this was NOT a petition by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS, but by a group of 8 members of SGBAR. To date we have 360 signatures and want a lot more. Please consider signing the petition at http://chng.it/VjBMB2tX

  6. Thank you REM for giving all registrants’ uncertainties and complaints (and some of the proposed possible solutions) an airing.

    It’s like the good-old online days of Bulleting Boards (pre dot-com)

    Everyone has an opinion and no one filters/edits the comments!

    Congrats REM!

  7. In the discussion of sharing data the real immediate issues are these gap listings. And simple solutions are available. However it always seems there is one participant that has no interest in playing nice in the sandbox.

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