The Toronto Real Estate Board has been forced to concede and comply with the federal Competition Tribunal’s order to allow the free flow of previously protected information. Buyers and sellers will now have access to transaction records for properties including sale prices and sales numbers for Real Estate Agents, information which, to date, has been exclusively available to licensed Realtors through paid subscriptions to data-sharing platforms such as MLS. All of this will be available via a virtual office website (VOW). 

Of course, this has rattled the local real-estate market and DIYers who are pondering when this open access to data will come to Waterloo Region. Since TREB has battled this for so long, we have had ample time to consider the impact and to prepare. 

Once again, I like to focus on the value proposition that a good agent brings to the table. There is much more to buying and selling a house than just the transaction itself. Because it is arguably the largest and single most important transaction in a person’s financial life, it’s also complex. The work starts long before the deal is signed and carries on well after that.

Consider the number of times an agent plays a vital role in helping a couple to decide how to meet both of their wants and needs. An agent is a referee at the best of times and a marriage councillor at the worst of times. We listen and help to find the middle ground. We advise on presumptions and misinformation that permeates the world of real estate – thank you HGTV. We have the bird’s eye view and the long-term sight lines that a person in the middle of the purchase does not have.

We also innovate with marketing and can connect with buyers in town and out of town through relationships with other brokers. Our network doesn’t stop there though. Mortgage broker? We’ve got at least one. Home stager? We’ve got those too. How about a good mover to help the Mother-in-law pack up all of those antique dishes? We’ve got that covered. When it’s time for negotiation and all of the skills associated with that, we have the ability to work without the intrusion of emotion that a buyer or seller brings to the transaction.

Finally, the single most important thing that cannot be overlooked is that an agent assumes the burden of liability in the event that something unforeseen goes wrong. This cannot be tagged with a price. When you sign a representation contract with an agent, you’re not simply hiring an individual to work on your behalf – you’re also bringing to bear the entire resources of their brokerage in the instance of problems arising on or before closing. Your agent and their brokerage are legally obligated to go to bat for you, whether at the negotiating table or in the courtroom. You’re not just hiring good advice, but peace of mind, too.

My crystal ball tells me that we will have an extra step to the sales process in the near future. We will continue to demystify the market, but we’ll need to redouble our efforts and dedication to educating our clients just that little more before we can get down to business. A little information in the hands of a novice can be risky; my most critical job is keeping my clients educated and safe.

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