Agreement reached with CREA and Competition Bureau – Was anything really accomplished?

After three years of negotiations Canada’s competition bureau and CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association) seemed to have reached an agreement on the way Canadians can sell their homes. The competition bureau has been trying to implement rule changes associated with the MLS (multiple listing service) which is responsible for a large majority of home sales in the country.

The new agreement if accepted by the members of CREA on October 24th would allow home seller’s a broader range of services when using a Realtor in the sale of their home. For example some home owners may choose only to pay their Realtor for the services of having their home listed on MLS, and will deal with the other facets of the sale - viewings, offer negotiation, transactional details etc themselves.

Will this change BC’s real estate industry? Hard to accurately predict these things, but I think any effect it may have will not be dramatic as some believe. Discount brokerages offering limited services have existed in BC for some time but still remain a very small part of the overall market share.

Services currently provided by most Realtors include - qualifying home buyer’s, advising a client of a home’s true market value based on current market conditions, arranging viewing tours of appropriate homes, reviewing building documents for potential risks, negotiating and overseeing contractual details, arranging inspections, conveyancing ... - the list is long and services complex with the Realtor’s goal aimed at ensuring a wise investment and creating a positive experience. All these elements if taken on by a person unskilled in their details can be extremely stressful, overpowering, and add huge risks to what is often one the largest investments they will make.

Broader options available to consumers will always maintain a healthy free market system but the Competition Bureau’s bulldog effort to apply new rules to CREA may in the end accomplish very little in BC. A more co-operative approach and deeper consultation with Realltors and consumers could have achieved more. Unless people become more willing to take time out of their often already busy lives to study the detailed elements involved in a real estate transaction, many people will most likley continue to choose to use the more comprehensive Realtor service packages that already exist.

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