Nowhere is the adage ‘knowledge is power” more applicable than in the marketing of real estate.
Simply knowing what is available on the market, and for what price, has always been a chore for buyers. In pre-internet days, the only efficient way to research the market was to use a printed MLS listing catalogue, access to which was tightly controlled by realtors. If you wanted access, you became a realtor’s client!
The advent of the internet made much more information available to the consumer, but even internet listings often withhold vital information (like price) which is available only by contacting the listing realtor.The real estate industry as a whole has always sought to keep for itself the treasure trove of data found in both MLS listing documents and previous sale histories. This resulted in a seven year court battle with the Federal Competition Bureau, which has only just now concluded, with the Supreme Court of Canada refusing to hear the appeal of the Toronto Real Estate Board, the proxy for the industry.
In the result, the Toronto Board has been ordered to abandon all restrictions on the display and use of data from its Multiple Listing Service, and the rest of the county’s real estate boards are expected to fall quickly in line.
This court decision paves the way for internet entrepreneurs to unleash their creativity and begin designing new and disruptive models for the delivery and analysis of real estate market information, and could lead to some exciting experiments in new ways of marrying up the buyers and sellers of real estate.
Whether exciting experiments on the bleeding edge of technology will prove beneficial to the consumer in the long run remains to be seen, since an experienced traditional realtor brings more to the table than just insider market data; they bring an entire skill set, as investigators, negotiators and even as life counsellors.
Like it or not however, the Supreme Court has opened the barn door wide, and disruptive change is on the way, so buckle up for the ride.