What would you do if REALTOR.ca was shut down?
Recent decisions concerning the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) owned and operated website REALTOR.ca, aka MLS.ca, has caused many REALTORs to wonder about its continued existance.
The consumer may not realise, but REALTOR.ca was designed, built and paid for out of our annual dues paid to our national organization CREA. Millions of dollars have been invested for the convenience of the buying public. Make no mistake, this is a tool for the buying public, a place where the majority of properties for sale in Canada are found. It allows consumers to go to one website instead of dozens. It is nothing more.
The Competition Bureau (CB) has decided that the only way a property can be sold in Canada is if its on REALTOR.ca. To be on REALTOR.ca you have to list with a REALTOR and this makes Organized Real Estate (ORE) anti-competitive. I'm curious how the CB felt homes were sold in all the years before REALTOR.ca? Just luck?
ORE has been selling 85-90% of all the property in Canada for many, many years. Long before the internet was a gleam in some programmer's eye. REALTOR.ca didn't change that and shutting it down won't either.
So what does happen if REALTOR.ca goes off-line? Consumers will certainly be inconvenienced. They will need to search many sites to get a feel for what's on the market. Small real estate companies will not enjoy the level playing field the REALTOR.ca helps to provide since they can't spend the millions the large companies and franchises spend on websites. This may actually reduce the amount of competition we see in the market today as small companies join larger ones. Wouldn't that be ironic?
How will it effect REALTORs? Very little actually. I would assume our annual fees to CREA could come down a little since the large maintenance and development costs of REALTOR.ca would be gone. IN 2011 about 5% of the traffic to my website came from REALTOR .ca. I received almost as much from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In fact, in 2011 I sold two house before they ever reached REALTOR.ca.
It won't effect how REALTORs work since we use an entirely different operating system, run by our local boards, to do searches, and so on. As I said earlier, REALTOR.ca is for the consumer, not the REALTOR.
So did the CB do a big deservice to the consumer? I'll let you answer that for yourselves.