Over the past few years it seems that real estate has become one of the if not the hottest topics out there.  I get stopped on the street and in the grocery store by people (some of whom I do not know) asking me “how’s the market or “what’s going on with real estate?”  Not only is real estate of interest from an investment standpoint but judging by the myriad of home improvement shows on TV, home decorating, renovating, buying a second property for vacation purposes and or just moving up to something larger place are all playing a role in our fascination with real estate.

  Lately there has been an added emphasis both inside and outside the real estate community about a number of so-called “disruptive” new players entering the Canadian real estate market some of which are coming from the U.S.  Many have new “business models” removing the buying and particularly the selling process away from REALTORS® putting it into the hands of consumers alleging that there are considerable savings to be had in the form of not paying commission to a real estate salesperson and their brokerage.  A recent story with CBC about this trend asked “Is it the early days of a real estate revolution?”  It may not be a revolution but yes things are changing.
  Technology has played a huge role in our daily lives and real estate is no exception.  When I entered the real estate profession back in 2001 it was the almost the pre-Internet era and we still had MLS® catalogues that were printed by weekly.  By the time the catalogue was received many of the properties were already sold.  When the first “online” MLS ® systems started to appear we could load photos of homes online albeit about three.  Photo capacity was increased so as to permit nine, then thirty.  Now the number of photos we can upload is almost unlimited in addition to floor plans, virtual tours etc.
  Amongst the new players entering the Canadian real estate market are Zillow, Redin and an  Purplebricks who are based in Britain.  Whether these so called disruptors “revolutionize” our market remains to be seem but there is no question the real estate ;landscape is changing.  Some of these companies (and others) have raised tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in investor financing yet they have yet to make any profit.

  Consumers want, need and in my opinion are entitled to more information that will assist them with their real estate buying and selling decisions.  As real estate professionals it is our responsibility to help them every step of the way  with their real estate buying and selling needs and along with the changes that have already taken place along with those yet to come, we need to adjust our roles in order to provide greater consumer value to the real estate buying/selling transaction.   As professional REALTORS® we need to be the providers of relevant and helpful consumer centric information rather than the self imposed “gatekeepers” of said information.

  On the the things consumer want is better access to data particularly for properties that have “SOLD.”  Last year the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) lost a long standing case with the Competition Bureau claiming that releasing sold information etc. posed a threat to privacy issues.  As a result of the courts ruling, consumers can expect to see sometime in the near future more information available to the public.  Typically our practice is not to release MLS® “sold” information on a property until the sale has closed.  Sales sometime do fall apart and don’t close be it for financing or other reasons. As a consumer, you would be both unhappy and disadvantaged if the sale price of your property was freely given out, the sale was not completed and the property have to be put back on the market for sale.  Would you want the world to know what you accepted or are prepared to take for your home?  I suspect not.

  I will report further on this subject in future posts, in the meantime I would love to hear your comments or feel free to Contact me if you have any questions or concerns as it relates to your particular real estate situation rickcrouch@propertycollingwood.com.