There has been lots of information or misinformation bounced around in the media regarding certain changes proposed by the Competition Tribunal of Canada. The new MLS rules voted on by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) on March 22, 2010 are now being ratified by provincially-based Real Estate Boards. The process could take a few months to complete, as some Boards will have to call general meetings to revise their rules. Below are some frequently asked questions that I have been hearing and I wanted to address them.
Q & A:
1. What is the MLS and why am I not able to access it?
- The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is an online business tool developed for REALTORS, including Century 21 sales representative, to upload and share listing information on properties and collect market data. There are multitudes of MLS sites across the country, each operated by different Real Estate Boards. Generally, a local REALTOR includes the MLS as part of his or her overall service contract. CREA created an advertising website, REALTOR.ca, so that consumers and sales representatives could view all MLS listings in one place and contact agents associated with those listings.
Century 21 Canada also has an agreement with Real Estate Boards across Canada to collect MLS data. That data enables us to provide detailed and accurate property information on all our sales representatives sites at www.Century21.ca or on www.BradStevenett.com.
2. With the new CREA rules, can I now post my home on the MLS system without going through a REALTOR?
- No. The MLS was developed as a member-to-member platform for licensed REALTORS. Like all REALTORS, Century 21 sales representatives are bound by ethical and legal standards of conduct, which applies to listing information published on the MLS. The MLS has become a strong brand because of the integrity of its information. While Century 21 Canada isn't opposed to posting listings to the MLS for a fee, allowing direct public access to the MLS risks undermining industry standards, as well as the security of potential home buyers - virtually every public advertising site runs the risk of exposing its customers to scam artists and unscrupulous sellers.
3. So, when will I be able to pay you just to list my home on the MLS?
- You have always had that choice. All Real Estate service fees are negotiable between REALTORS and their clients. As well a consumer has the option to list their property for sale on a range of websites that don't require the assistance of a licensed Real Estate agent. Century 21 sales representatives aren't going to prevent clients from choosing this option; however, we would discourage individual home owners from publishing their properties online without a clear plan as to how they are going to manage the sales process, qualify prospective buyers and complete the required documentation for closure.
4. Why do REALTORS charge so much commission for providing services that I could just as easily do myself?
- REALTORS receive extensive training to be licensed to operate in Canada and work hard for the commissions they earn. The vast majority of REALTORS are not getting rich on commission fees. According to the National Real Estate Association 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 69% or homeowners who choose to go the "For Sale by Owner" route indicated that they did so to avoid paying the commission fees; and 74% of those reported having difficulty with the selling process. Getting the price right, preparing a home for sale, understanding and completing paperwork and selling with in the length of time planned were common difficulties expressed by survey respondents. Buyers are aware of the value of commission fees and will often offer less than market value on "For Sale by Owner" listings. There is value in hiring an agent with superior sale skills and knowledge of your market.
5. Why is CREA trying to stop consumers from being able to choose the services they want to sell their home?
- This is a myth that has gained momentum because of the Competition Bureau issue. The MLS was created by CREA for its members to post their listings and share data. Like with any competitive landscape, there is an array of online advertising choices other than the MLS for independent home sellers, including social media sites, Craigslist and Kijiji. As well, Canadians have always had the option to compare and negotiate Real Estate fess offered by different business models.
*Information taken from Century21 Canada.
Serving Mississauga, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, and Hamilton to Dunnville.