My Thoughts on The Competition Bureau and The Canadian Real Estate Association

iStock_000005131120XSmallPlease notes that my thoughts are personal only and are not in any way those of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Ltd .(who hold my license) or The Toronto Real Estate Board  (I am a Director-at-Large). I love my business, am engaged in it 7 days a week, 12 to 15 hours a day and would not want to do anything else however:

There is a lot of discussion going on led by the Competition Bureau  and forces that want to “open up” the MLS  and the Real Estate industry. Along with that discussion comes a lot of vitriol and misinformation about what it is that REALTORS do. We seem to have become the target for some who are not being totally clear about their agenda and who jump on sound bite after sound bite. If there is to be a discussion then it should be an honest one.

The sound bites tell you that CREA  has had a hand in stopping Competition. There are a variety of models out there at present, have been for many years and they offer lots of choice to the consumer. Organized Real Estate has never restricted consumer’s options to MLS as long as these use a licensed REALTOR. The reality is that some of those models were not attractive to the consumer and it is the consumer that did not adopt them. That happens in any marketplace…sometimes the best widget does not sell because the marketplace is not ready or there is no perceived need.

The sound bites tell you it is all about bringing down commission but the Competition Bureau’s findings did not touch the rules dealing with commission, they only talk about CREA rules around “representation”.  In other words, the Bureau wants unrepresented listings to be able to be put on the MLS system. Listings where the Buyer will have to satisfy himself that the information is correct and not misrepresented. At present and with all the due diligence that the listing agent is to do there are still properties that slip through the cracks….wouldn’t this only make it worse. Is the lawyer led Competition Bureau really concerned about the consumer or looking to move the transaction to the Lawyer’s office rather than the Realtor’s office?

The sound bites tell you about the massive amounts of money that REALTORS make so easily. We only get paid on the closing of the transaction yet there is an outlay (for myself) of anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 of costs before the property comes to the market, and sometimes those properties do not sell because it is the Seller who pays if the offer is acceptable to them. Numerous listings come to the market overpriced, sit while agents try every option out there to market the house, get moved to another Company and finally sell or come off the market. How come we are not hearing from those sellers? How come we are not hearing from the Buyers who ask for information, have us show them multiple properties and buy from a friend with not even a thank you? How come we are not hearing from those Buyers?

We are told of Multiple Offers however in the best of markets they have been the exception and not the rule. Sellers and REALTORS not involved in multiple offers don’t have the war stories that generate the media and news hype. There are no records of  Multiple Offers but I would think they have occurred in less than 20% of the transactions over the last few years.

In all sales there seems to be an 80-20 rule and there are a lot of Realtors who are not able to pay their bills because they do not make enough money. I am one of two people left  from a class of over 60 that began when I did. Every year more people get licensed and every year many leave the business disheartened. 

What they thought would be an easy job, turns out is not. There is no security, there is no retirement plan, there is a general rule that one third of your gross income will go to expenses, one third will go to taxes and you will have one third to live on. That is made up, not from the 5% or 6 % that is quoted all the time, but MLS is a cooperative that gives half to the cooperating agent and then splits that balance between you and your Broker. However the sound bites tell you of the agent who made $30,000 on a sale…which becomes $15,000 with the co-operating agent, which becomes $7500 with the Broker and at the end of the day becomes $2500 in the Realtors pocket (once expenses and the Government have their share). However, that does not make the same sound bite does it? 

Choosing to be a REALTOR means that you will not have a 40 hour week, not have privacy in your community (people think nothing of stopping you and asking your advice with no intention of ever paying you for it), and will only be as successful as your last transaction. We live by the rule that if you do something nice for someone, chances are they will tell no one, however, should you do something they consider bad, they will tell everyone. Reputation is everything and God forbid if you become too successful at what you do…

All Realtors are mandated to have continuing Education Courses and cannot be re-licensed without 24 credits every two year period, 6 credits deal with updates from the Provincial Regulator. This is not even required of our teachers in the Province of Ontario. What will we require of education for unrepresented Sellers?

MLS  has been something like a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”. It means that there has been due diligence in bringing the property into the system and that there is a third party who not only warrants the quality of the listing but if there are issues, there is a party that has errors and omissions insurance as mandated by the Provincial Regulator. What potential landmines will we face under this new direction? Will money saved inREALTORS  fees be paid to Lawyers instead? Please note that Lawyers get paid whether the transaction is successful or not, unlike REALTORS.

I am someone who is all ready for a discussion and to embrace change but let’s see if we can get some honest discussion happening and deal with the real issues instead of the vitriol and hidden agendas of those saying that they are out to help the consumer.

116 Responses

  1. David Allen

    Very well said Richard, you have done a great job of explaining what most sales representatives do not even know about this issue. The public needs to understand the real issue here and maybe your post will help.

    Thanks again…..

    David Allen
    Broker of Record
    Graydon Hill Realty Ltd.

  2. John Brydon-Harris

    Hi Richard,
    Well said. Thank you for succinctly addressing this minefield issue. I will put a link to it on my blog (experiencetorontohomes.com)and Facebook.

    Regards,
    John

  3. Keith Williams

    Thank you, Richard.
    Would this new, proposed arrangement imply that I no longer, as a listing agent, have a fiduciary duty to my client seeing that I am no longer representing him in the sale?

    Freedom of choice for the consumer? I see an abundance of real estate litigation on the horizon. How will this benefit all those sellers and buyers who merely want to close a transaction without fear of mistakes and lawsuits?

  4. Pony Heath

    Bravo Richard. No whining (thanks!) just the reality we live with every day. Clear, succinct and on point. The abundance of litigation will benefit the architects of this witch hunt.

  5. Bill Lafferty

    Richard, good article!!! I feel the real issue here is that the Competition Bureau just wants to use our system WITHOUT our Government regulated and licensed services.Reminds me of something like the guy who needs a “brake Job” on his vehicle. He goes to a licensed Mechanic and tells the mechanic he doesn’t need his services just wants to use his Garage,Tools and Equipment for a small fee and do his own “Brake Job” although he’s not a licensed mechanic and has only dabbled in mechanics and thinks he knows something about cars and wants to save money.
    Is the Licensed Mechanic really being anti-competitive in not allowing this guy for a small fee to use his garage,equipment and tools without having to use his professional services which this mechanic has been educated,trained and licensed for? Also, if this guy’s brakes are not done right because he’s not a licensed mechanic and the brakes fail, who’s responsible for the damage? Likewise is CREA really being anti-competitive in not allowing the public to just use their MLS system without or apart from their government regulated,licensed services in which Realtors have been educated and trained to protect the public which comprise of both The Buyer and THE SELLER? I have no problem with other Realtors charging less commission than I do, since commissions are negotiable!!!! What I do have a problem with is when these realtors don’t want to do their job and provide the services needed to protect their seller’s best interests.I think that the Commissioner of the Competition Bureau needs to give her head a shake and realize that refusal to allow the public to use a professional system without professional services licensed and regulated by the Government designed to protect the public is not being anti-competitive.

  6. Barry Lebow

    Richard, the war will not be won lamenting the money made or not made by a typical agent. Let’s focus on another aspect, the greed of the consumer. Let me try to be articulate. In my view Realtors do one thing for the public, they do them the biggest favour of their lives! Okay, humour me. When you started you sold a lot of houses around the $150,000 mark. Today those same houses are $700,000 or more in your area. You pushed, you pleaded and you worked hard to get those buyers into those $150,000 houses and in turn they made the largest profit of their lives – AND TAX FREE! No capital gains. You created an elite group of people who have paid off their mortgages, can retire or travel, can have things in life their parents could not comprehend and you are begrudged your 5%? I don’t get it. Tax free, huge profits which you did not share in and they think you are getting rich! You buy a stock, it goes down, broker takes a commission. You buy or sell they take their share and boy do they ever. Why are the stock exchanges in Canada not under attack? I plan to offer shares in my firm soon, should I sue the TSE for not allowing me access to the big board and trading floor?

    Richard, Realtors have helped more people in Canada get rich than any other group – period. This lady from the Competition Bureau is on a mission to prove herself and damn anyone who is going to get in her way. Like a prosecutor who is out to convict someone even though they are innocent because it looks good for their career. She is on a witch hunt and reasoning with her will have no impact.

    My rant as I am totally pissed.

    42 years in this industry and counting and I am mad!

    Barry Lebow

  7. Tim Syrianos

    Great post and very well said Richard. The bureau is using the media to deliver a message without facts. They’re putting too much emphasis on access to the MLS and not enough emphasis on the consumer. They’ve lost focus on who they need to protect. The internet is an information highway however it doesn’t replace Representation, accuracy of facts and someone responsible to deliver service. You’re absolutely right that the models they’re tying to promote already exist. Its time CREA takes the message to the same outlets and clarifies the facts as well.

  8. Tim Syrianos

    Great post and very well said Richard. The
    bureau is using the media to deliver a message without facts.
    They’re putting too much emphasis on access to the MLS and not
    enough emphasis on the consumer. They’ve lost focus on who they
    need to protect. The internet is an information highway however it
    doesn’t replace Representation, accuracy of facts and someone
    responsible to deliver service. You’re absolutely right that the
    models they’re tying to promote already exist. Its time CREA
    takes the message to the same outlets and clarifies the facts as
    well.

  9. MIchael Rapkoski

    Well said Richard and I echo the sentiments of many of the Professional Realtors and Real Estate Professionals who have worked very hard in shedding light on the true message here. Barry brings up a great point, as do others. I would love for the media to pick up on the many Realtors who have sacrificed so many facets of what constitutes a “normal life” only to be broken down and deal with the constant uncertainty of a typical real estate career. Sadly, I have attended more Realtor funerals then retirement parties but I digress.

  10. Tony Luke

    hoping for a “scalp” to “make her career”, the commisioner and her staff have listened to malcontents with failed buisnees models..appeals to the government for bailouts, following a buisness failure, are hardly new..perhaps fee based law is not darwinian, I woudn’t know, but real estate is..

    the models she champions, models her supporters claim are well financed, have failed to “come to the table” with a site the public likes..why? because they fear the cost and the competition for agents..they actually admit that their model will not survive without huge volume..and paying salaries to agents, while the income necessary to cover those salaries was commission based and predicated on succesful completion and in no way guaranteed, was not a smart buisness plan .. anyone who thought it through, would have known it would fail..as for websites that are best set up to sell used fridges and bill corespondingly, the consumer voted..if they want to sell privately, they are better off with a star ad.. and they know it..

    most of us who help people sell and buy real estate “get” that, if we were fee based and paid a regularly billed retainer, against an hourly rate and expenses, (and not dependant in any way on succesful completion) we’d, in many cases, be better compensated..

    our clients do not provice group life, group disability, or dental plans. we pay employer portion cpp and lack a defined benefit pension plan, indexed to inflation yet! unlike she and her peers..there is much irony in someone, formerly fee based and now so compensated, trying to suggest there is not enough “competition”, not enough “performance required”, in commision based real estate brokerage..

    and of her peers who work contingency and charge 15% of any settlement they manage to get, or of a civic government that charges a purchaser 4% for simple deed registration?…

    the consumer has always had the option of selling privately, or using a discount broker who reduces fees…but the consumer has consistently recognized, in large numbers, that they are better served by focusing on making a living at what they do well, while having someone who works in the real estate market every day act to help them..they see that as more efficient…i see little evidence the commisioner, or any of the parties she wishes to try to bail out, understand why the consumer pays us..making me believe the models she champions will continue to fail to change consumers preferences..

    as for a the argument these models and programs are working better in the us …pleease!! that market is an unmigigated disaster…its actually the best argument for the regulation she fears

  11. Brian Mayer

    Excellent post Richard and I stand behind you 100% !! Unfortunately it will make our job much harder as the media will no doubt have a feeding frenzy on this one. It’s about comsumer protection and proper representation – not about unfair competition or commission. The public needs to hear our side.
    Thanks for posting!

  12. Richard Silver Post author

    Thanks Brian. The key is to stop the “feeding frenzy” and just have a reasonable discussion of all options on either side…

  13. Carol Reeves

    You are right on the mark! This is all a big “witch hunt”. We are the most regulated professionals in the world. We are not hiding stuff from the consumer. We work with the consumer so they have a good understanding of what is happening with their purchase or sale. Our profession works hard to establish relationships with their clients. We are looking for “clients for life.” Isn’t it funny how the squeaky wheel gets the grease. We have to stand up and fight for something we know is right. It hasn’t worked this long because it is wrong.

  14. Tony Luke

    richard,

    seems to me discussing is exactly what “we” were doing..

    unfortunately, the bureau got up from the table, announced they had “had enough discussion”, said they wanted to “talk to a judge” and called in friends in the the media to promote their position..

    the bureau is championing that any member of the public, effectively operating under “caveat emptor”, may post to any mls trading site. naturally they would like “us” to keep paying for it..what they wont admit is, none of the models they champion have the money to build a good system initially, or fund it on an ongoing basis…and if the agents dont play on the same system its becomes craiglist.2

    the marketplace works as well as it does precisly because it has rules and regs that make it work, with obligations and penalities for those that dont conform..there is “money on the table”, which naturally requires it..almost every rules is actually inspired by consumer protection..

    she is “before a judge” over this..there isnt a trading system in the world that works with no rules ..what they seek and championing is an unregulated “over the counter system”..

    shes arguing for “no rules” trading, advancing it improves competition..thats the mentality that brought wall street down…

    i too speak for myself alone..thanks for posting the subject..thought it was courageous…i look forward to other views..

  15. Joel Ives

    Great Article…easy to understand and to the point.
    Glad CREA decided to post this on their twitter account !
    Changes always occur and we have to be able to adapt but ultimately it is the consumer and the market that will make the changes happen.
    I am speaking on my own behalf as well.

  16. Jason Steele

    Hey Richard, great article and too the point…something the CB can learn from.

    Isn’t the Competition Bureau a Monopoly? – had to make someone smile!

    Jason Steele
    Broker
    The Property Shoppe Real Estate Brokerage

  17. Morgan Evans

    Great blog and post. I really like that you have taken the time to explain a little of what we do and broken down what a $30,000 commission actually means.

    The whole premise that access to a system owned and operated by REALTORS living up to CREA’s standards of professional business conduct should be granted to individuals not following those practices is amazing and there are many great analogies in the previous comments. However, I believe that, even if these changes are made, most consumers are still going to prefer to have a trusted professional representing them and will continue to see value in the services we provide.

    I was horrified to see the headlines suggesting that maybe the new, lower commissions would offset the mortgage rule changes introduced yesterday. No discussion about the fact that putting your house on the MLS for $400-$800 means you are totally unrepresented… just a cheeful observation that you could now put those savings towards your downpayment and this will make housing more affordable. Totally irresponsible reporting in my opinion.

    Will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  18. Richard Silver Post author

    As someone said to me this morning…when the big five Banks get together to change the monetary policy and Mortgage policy of all Banks…Is that not a monopoly??

  19. Della Parker

    Thank you very much for your initiative Richard. Here on PEI are getting worn down by having to justify our existence. I very much appreciate Mr. LeBow’s comments about building our clients personal wealth portfolios and getting no public thanks for same. It seems that our clients love us but the public dispises who we are and how much money we cost them. Never do we hear what we made them. How do other professionals manage, no matter what their fee is, to be held in high esteem in the public’s eye? We need to speak loud and clear for a change to get the public’s attention in the matter of the Competition Bureau. By its very nature, by being under investigation, we are tainted with a bad smell similar to wall street. Thanks for this venue to discuss our options and our need to stand together. Regards.

  20. Jason Steele

    Hi Della, in response to you. There is only one way to be perceived in the public eye as being the “good guys”….that is to continue forward with business and showing our worth to society by way of performing good business. It’s only the bad apples (in every bunch) that has left the sour taste in the public mouth. Unfortunatly, it’s those stories that the media sensationalizes which spin out of control such as the current “MLS® going public” story….once these media outlets start losing ground and going belly up, they will stop and think, “we should have told the entire story”
    The other way to move this forward, and I will say this until I am blue in the face is…”protect our trademarks people!” The use of MLS® and REALTOR® is very important…use the marks properly and be proud! We all have the Trademark booklet, now lets all utilize it.

    Jason Steele
    Broker
    The Property Shoppe Brokerage
    Vice President of the REALTORS® Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound

  21. Mike Leibel

    The MLS should be protected by intellectual and proprietary rights owned by CREA and paid for by ALL the members. It is a work it progress. The Competition Bureau should not have the right to reduced the MLS system to a basic commodity as though it were without cost, and sold by “order takers” who want only to leech off the membership.

  22. Paul Burns

    Good job Richard. I picked this link up off LinkedIn. I have been in the business the best part of 18 years and I am currently the President of the Greater Moncton Real Estate Board in NB. One issue that the CB, and the general public for tha matter, doesn’t seem to understand is that REALTOR.ca is just a website tool we REALTORS(r) developed for their benefit. In the early days of the internet, having one site to go to was a convenience we paid for and CREA developed.

    If we allow the public to post information on our website, the data is no longer trustworthy and the tool becomes useless. I can’t go into my local car dealership and demand they allow me to use their front end alignment machine because I don’t want to pay for their mechanic. Their tools, their rules.

    I can’t help but think there is more to the CB’s persecution of us. What they’re doing doesn’t make sense and usually when that happens it means the entire story isn’t known.

    Have a great day everyone.

  23. Bill Lafferty

    Currently, I know of Realestate Agents that will list a property on MLS for $500 and I have no problem successfully competing with these agents everyday.How can the Commissioner of the Competition Bureau accuse the CREA of not being competitive or allowing choices when there are already a vast difference in commissions charged by Realtors?
    It’s very obvious that this Commissioner wants to take it to the next level of simply using our professional MLS system and not caring whether the Seller has licensed services that both represent and legally protect them. Fudiciary Duty to a Seller obviously means nothing to this Commissioner.Maybe before taking the CREA to the Tribunal she should have taken a realestate course and learn the importance and value and necessity of fudiciary duty to both a Seller and a buyer and what it really means.

  24. Gordon Hovey

    Good Job Richard; Why can’t I put my old chev car on the General Motors web site?. I still wonder who is paying the Competition Bureau someone said it was the taxpayers. If the privatelist/sell companies are so popular why dont they become a brokerage and join us and then they can have access to the MLS System instead of fighting all the time with CREA. The Lawyer who said she never lost a case I bet never sold or listed her house through private sale.I totally disagree with the Competition Bureau they are another government beauricy out of control.If they want something to do check the Lottery where the government takes 99% of the winnings and gives the winner less than 1%. We have a lot more problems in this country than someone wanting to piggyback on the MLS System

  25. Toronto Julie

    Hi,
    I have been watching this case with CREA for a long time and I came to one decision, and so that the only thing that will destroy the CREA cartel is market innovation and progress. If they were smart, they’d be innovating themselves.
    Take care,
    Julie

  26. Tony Joe

    Bravo, Richard! I have forwarded this fantastic blog to everyone I know and others should consider doing the same. This whole issue has caused undue worry and concern with agents who themselves do not know all of the facts. So many fear it is the beginning of the end but as all of the posts above agree, the market will decide. We all need to inform and educate fellow agents so they in turn can have meaningful, reasonable discussions with their clients and circles of influence.

    I love Paul Burns’ post about having access to the mechanic’s equipment to save a few dollars. Even if a mechanic did allow it, very few would have the skill to use it anyway…

  27. Bill Lafferty

    Toronto Julie,you may have come to one decision but it certainly isn’t based on the facts. If representing yourself in selling your own home is so innovative,so progressive and smart why are 90% of these types of sellers so miserably unsuccessful? What makes these sellers think that anything will change for them to be on CREA’s successful MLS system and at the same time not have the Government regulated and licensed REPRESENTATIVE SERVICES that have been developed over many years? These necessary Government regulated services have proven over and over again through the years to protect the public which comprises of both the Buyer and the SELLER. Further more, these Government regulated licensed representative services do more than what an inexperienced or even an experienced seller can do for him or herself or even what a lawyer can do. Like negotiating effectively without losing the Buyer,(like to see a lawyer do that one without blowing the deal)professionally qualifying the Buyer,fully understanding the terms and conditions of an offer,protecting both buyer and seller from being involved in future lawsuits with one another.When I first became a Realtor in 1983 only the Sellers were properly represented and they were the only ones in a transaction that received a fudiciary duty. The Buyers were on their own and not represented even though they purchased a home with a realtor. Agency laws were later developed whereby both the Seller and the buyer were to be equally represented and each receive a fudiciary duty from their realtor they were working with. This way both parties to the transaction the Seller and the buyer were equally represented in order to protect each of them in a transaction.This has proved very successful and beneficial to both parties.CREA over the years has been very progressive in perfecting a SYSTEM and SERVICE that benefits and protects both the Buyer and the Seller. Can it really be called progressive,innovative,and smart when sellers are now the ones no longer represented and given fudiciary duty from their realtor in a transaction? Sounds like regressing back in time to me.This Commissioner of the Competition Bureau thinks she is so progressive but in reality she should take a Realestate course and learn the importance and necessity of fudiciary duty to both Buyer and Seller protecting both of them from realestate nightmares.Realestate commissions are already very competitive. There’s a saying “If the wheel isn’t broken,why fix it?”

  28. DJ Rowan

    Well written but from a professional realtor. What you have not disclosed is that the majority in your industry cannot justify thier value or role today and hide behind the mls spending little money to market my home for sale. One thing is certain – you better have a great marketing plan to justify 5% in the future and it better not be about the mls.

  29. Bill Lafferty

    What makes the MLS system so successful and what drives it, are hard working,educated and trained professional realtors.They don’t hide behind MLS rather THEY ARE BEHIND THE SUCCESS of MLS. Realtors represent their sellers and buyers and bring the two parties together in 90% of the realestate transactions done in this country.The fact that the vast majority of FSBO sellers fail when it comes to being able to sell their own homes and need professional Realtors to get the job done. This only proves that Realtors have value and most certainly justifies their role as an industry. Who cares how much money a Realtor spends marketing your home when it’s getting the positive results of a successful sale that really matters.If the Realtor you hire gets you absolute top dollar for your home and sells it in one day are you going to begrudge him his commission because he didn’t spend very much money marketing your home? Realtors only get a small percentage of what they get YOU for your home. In fact they get a smaller percentage today than they did when I started. People say oh yea, thats when homes were selling for $60,000 now homes are selling for $500,000.Everything is relative to the time period. In 1983 when I began in Realestate I’m sure if I brought someone half a million for their home they would have had no problem paying the exact same percentage, in fact back then I’m sure they would have been delighted to.Unfortunately today the general attitude is expecting everything and appreciating nothing in return.

  30. Carl

    I think the essence of Richard’s post was lost along the way.

    There is a definite public perception problem that CREA faces on behalf of its membership and this has been the case long before the most recent media attention regarding the CB and associated coverage. Regardless of the CB end result, CREA still faces an uphill battle in its continuing efforts to address.

    As far as the particular CB issue is concerned, there seems to be a disconnection between the apparent ineffectiveness of FSBO’s and the threat to Organized Real Estate based on the comments.

    If (as a REALTOR) you accept the premise that “most FSBO’s are unsuccessful” then wouldn’t it stand to reason that you should be celebrating the CB’s call for MLS access, sans representation? Specifically, were this to proceed, would you not expect most prospective FSBO’s to select the MLS as their preferred platform instead of all the various independent FSBO website providers, including more mainstream sites like Craigslist?

    The result would be an MLS system that would only gain in its prominence and importance as the undisputed resource for home buyers and sellers.

    Sure there are issues that would exist such as the integrity of data etc but there are solutions for this, not the least of which would be disclaimers in respect of “unrepresented” listings.

    Despite the arguments of hidden agendas and witch hunting, I see the cup as half full my friends.

  31. Richard Silver Post author

    Thanks Carl. I also see the opportunities here and am not afraid of the challenges. I just wish that the discussion was more balanced, open and respectful.

  32. Tony Luke

    Carl, Richard,

    I pose this as a question..i believe the cbs current position is once posted we “must” treat an “unrepresented” listing in exactly the same fashion as a listing submitted by an agent? (and therfore compliant with all rules of agency law, mls rules and compliant with provinical regulatory and crea rules and regs)

  33. Carl

    I gather your question is whether or not the existing rules would apply to unrepresented MLS uploads?

    Frankly, I don’t think the existing framework really addresses this, save for the general ethics rules.

    I think this would require a re-work at Federal and Provincial regulatory levels along with local Boards.

    Some sort of ‘limited service’ contract or agreement seems to be one way of handling it.

    Furthermore, I think you could quite conceivably see the introduction of a hybrid form of representation and commission outlay, depending on who ultimately sources a prospective buyer.

    Who doesn’t like the introduction of new compliance forms now and then.

    It’s too early to speculate, and probably best left for the Regulators to iron out.

  34. Tony Luke

    Carl,

    if this is, as you descibe, simply an issue of constructing new complaince forms, why is the cb “before a judge” ..and not at the table with crea, the registrar and reco here..let alone the relevant bodies of other provinces and the attourneys general of the provinces…

    you mentionned crea having an “uphill battle”. canadians love to hate their banks too..however, because they controlled the buisness they wrote here, setting their own terms, the result was all canadians have not experienced the american, irish or eglish real estate collapse..we have our “hated” banks lending practices to thank for our present equities..
    like the banks, we in real estate may never be loved..beyond our clients…but we also have built one of the best real estate marketplaces in the world..

    we should continue to insist that how we work be more professional than pracices in other jursidications…we should not fawn over american unregulated marketplaces for one..or british and australian gazumping practices for another..all buinesss is not necessarily good buisness..and its my view that the standards we set, however minimal to our critics, make the mls sytem work as well as it does…we give liquidity to canadians real estate in an ordered marketplace..we deliver “peace, order and good government” as regulators love to say..

    the cb has stated it wishes to lower commssions, accross the board..period.. it seeks to require agents to accept any and all “offers of agency and compensation”…where standards are not met or liability not insured, it has not adressed in anyway corresponding limitations to agents liability…there is no field i am aware of where it is manatory to take all clients.. either because you dont like their level of disclosure, or the compensation offered..that is not regarded as an “obstruction” to “a free market” anywhere else im aware of..

    crea seems to have suggested the cb does not understand why and how real estate works as well as it does..more important, nor does the cb seem willing to address creas concerns..they have gone public and said “see you in court”..

    your proposals are worth discussing im sure..but if,some of us anyway, are frustrated its not becuae we lack imagination or are mired in past pratices..its because we fear the destruction of a regulated market place that serves us and all cnadians very well..

    that some would like to join in for free, or even half price, while we’re not enthused, is not imo something we need be defensive about..

  35. Bill Lafferty

    Let’s not make this complicated!!!In truthful simple terms easy to understand, FSBO’S don’t want to pay commission for selling their home.The FSBO websites are not very successful.FSBO’s finally realize this,and know that MLS which is driven by hardworking professional Realtors is the way to go if you want to successfully get your home sold.The problem is they don’t want to have to pay for it. Instead they want to eliminate the services and just plain use the system. Something like if I went to my Dentist and didn’t want to pay his fee for services but just wanted to rent his chair and equipment for the weekend and do my own dental work which I have never been trained for to save money.Besides the harmful possible outcome,Is my Dentist anti-competitive in not giving me this consumer choice? While its true, Dentists have more training and education than Realtors. However Realtors certainly have far more realestate training and education and experience in selling homes than FSBO’s plus they are licensed and Government regulated.If someone doesn’t want to use a Realtor to sell their home and wants to be a FSBO and not pay commission, that’s their right. Just like it’s everyone’s right to represent themselves in Court.How prudent that is,is another matter.MY point is either choose to be a fisbo or be represented on the professional market which entails both service and system.This Commissioner of the Competition Bureau in her infinite wisdom and blatant arrogance wants to bastardize an industry and do away with Seller representation and fudiciary duty to the seller. CREA has developed a very successful service and system over the decades for the benefit and protection of the public which involves both the Seller and the buyer.It’s not enough for this Commissioner that realestate commissions are already very competitive in our industry.She wants to fix the wheel when it’s not broken.

  36. Tony Luke

    Carl, Richard

    to your earlier points about being balanced and respectful…with all due respect, the cb halted the discussions and with it any consideration of the flexibility you obviously wish enteratined..its probably, from a practical point of view, unwise to “negotiate with ourselves” under the circumstancs..

  37. Jason Steele

    Exactly where the CB wants us! Please folks, we really need to continue our focus on our business of being professionals and let this play out with the powers that be. All the time you spend by arguing, blogging, fighting amongst ourselves only adds fuel to their hidden agenda and hypocrisies and takes away from that precious moment that you have with your client. Continue forward, use the marks and be the professional REALTOR® that you can be, representing a well organized and perfect MLS® system as it currently is.

  38. DJ Rowan

    Bill, if you don’t soon realize that you are in an industry, where 85% of the realtors don’t offer value or can justify thier commissions, then you are living a dream. Thats why you are sitting here today in this position as the consumer has lost confidence in your value. People like Richard they believe offers value but please – read reports on what consumer think of the real estate industry. Anyone can put a home on the MLS and wait for it to sell – what do I need you for today when all I need is a lawyer and maybe a home inspector. Wake up or you too, will be too caught up in the industry that is changing before your eyes. I have many friends who have made a ton of money in real estate who state quite frankly that its an easy job with a quality of life attached to it.

  39. Barry Lebow

    DJ Rowan comment – Richard I have been following this string since your first post and DJ Rowan has made one of the best points, the public is not well served by the majority of agents. Most agents are lazy, self-serving and contribute little to the profession. They take overpriced listings and throw them onto MLS hoping that some fool will come along. This paves the way for disgruntled customers and anger towards all Realtors. The day the broker lost control of his/her staff was the day that real estate changed for the worse. When I started in 1968 most of us made a decent living. We had to. We took reasonably priced listings, the market was active and greed was not dominant from either the agents or the public. Never going back to those days, that was then but I agree, most agents should not be in this industry. We are in trouble because of the masses of people who retired into real estate instead of making it a profession. BTW, that 85% percentage figure – it may be low. That is what is sad.

  40. Bill Lafferty

    Barry, DJRowan, Where do you get this 85% percentage from? That’s absolutely ridiculous!!!Unfortunately there are self-serving individuals in every profession.Do you have a percentage for lawyers,politicians,government officials,investment dealers& advisors etc?Lets keep to the issues. The MLS system is owned by CREA and it’s realtor members. Since when is it OK to hijack someone’s system they own, pay for and use for business and totally reject their services? If this is allowed I guess all the “Car Curbers” should now be allowed to invade every car dealership and for a small fee park their own vehicles there to sell on their own without having to do business with the Dealership.Even though the Dealership owns and pays for the lot they have no say in the matter since they’ll be accused of being anti-competitive like the CREA has wrongly been.Presently commissions are very competitive,yes there are even agents out there that will list your home on MLS for $500.Over the decades CREA has perfected the Realestate industry in protecting the public which is both buyer and seller by giving both parties a fudiciary duty by representation.Hijacking the MLS system,refusing all representative services,allowing sellers to be unrepresented and unprotected in realestate transactions is ridiculous and very wrong. What kind of Government takes away the” rights of ownership” from any industry?

  41. Tony Luke

    more one thinks about how it might work, more it seems the CB seeks “utopia”..

    attempting to brand those, with legitimate concerns, “resistant to change” is really quite unfair..and unproductive..

    if i have this right, those entertaining a hybrid trading system propose “unregulated” listings be differentialed from “regulated”, a sort of “que sera sera” corner..and thats logical..but its really trying to have it two ways..and likely to satisfy neither..

    this is hardly just about another “form” or “regulation” foisted on agents, by one level of government or another….

    what i see is the a cb inflexibly seeking a solution to a problem many do not think exists..even so, demanding a solution, without addressing the problems inherant in the proposed solution, look to me to be one sure way to guarantee protracted negotiations, and not just with agents….

    looks to me like the cb wants crea to bail it out of a jam the cb has created for itself..can’t see how we can help them here, if they wont walk through the process they dream of and both appreciate and reconcile the iuds in the way ..

  42. Bill Lafferty

    This Commissioner of the Competition Bureau is obviously out to make a name for herself,otherwise she wouldn’t have presumptuously rushed to take CREA before The Competition Tribunal.Especially when CREA was right in the middle of trying to make changes in compliance to try to satisfy the Competition Bureau’s concerns and a meeting was scheduled next month to discuss these changes.Hopefully the Judges in this Tribunal are true Business people who have business websites of their own and can appreciate how they would feel if someone tried to hijack their website.How would Mcdonalds,Subway or other food establishments feel about me for a small fee advertising my homemade burgers or subs on their website because my own private website proved unsuccessful?Would they be anti-competitive in not allowing me to do so? If I want to sell my new clothing line and my website is not very successful, Is Sears anti-competitive in not allowing me to advertise for a small fee in their catologue?Not only do I feel that this Commissioner wants to make a name for herself, I can’t help but feel her being a lawyer that she must have a hidden agenda.

  43. Carl

    I’ll say this once again…allowing for unrepresented MLS listings is a good thing, if that’s what the consumer desires.

    In my opinion, I, as a member of CREA, would rather that potential FSBO’s decide to market their properties on the MLS system.

    Any recent research on the home buying process will clearly demonstrate how consumers increasingly begin their search for real estate online.

    Allowing the FSBO listings, will only increase the consumer’s reasons for looking to the MLS as their primary source.

    Increased traffic is one of the online holy grails.

    The irony of it all is that the CB position could turn out to be anti-competitive in other respects. Specifically, allowing for FSBO listings on the MLS could arguably be a major blow to the online FSBO companies…you know, the ones that base their business model on tarnishing the image of the Profession…companies like this:

    link to youtube.com

  44. Bill Lafferty

    Carl,with all due respect I disagree. We don’t need to make MLS into a dog’s breakfast to successfully compete with Property Guy’s. I list all kinds of listings from people that were with Property Guys and couldn’t sell their homes and were completely fed up and I have the testimonials to prove it. In fact I’m going out right now to list a home that has been with Property Guys for months and had no success.I love getting business from Property Guys. We don’t need to bastardize an already almost perfect MLS system to compete with those guys.

  45. Carl

    Bill,

    I’m not trying to defend or dispute the CB position.

    Doing either is fruitless insofar as effecting the outcome.

    I’m simply being a realist to the fact that the Bureau will flex it’s muscle on this and has unlimited resources, budget and backbench support with which to do it.

    My perspective is about trying to put a positive spin on something that I believe will be inevitable.

  46. Blaine Mitton

    Few have discussed the benefits and value of the MLS System. It puts a home for sale in front of 54000 Agents in Ontario who have prosepctive clients. What a great system to move property with the inputs provided by knowledgeable Sales Representatives. Besides we have Realtor.com for the public to search for properties. We pay for that system and maintain it. It is great and now free loaders want to use it. Guess Not!!Think of the Advertising tha would have to take place to achieve the same result. Impossible. This is an efficient, effective, competitive system

  47. Tony Luke

    carl,

    ill give you that private sellers are usually dead in the water. that being on mls alone will not, I grant you, do any more than drive a bit more traffic their way..they will, for the most part, continue to fail because an agent representing a purchaser comes from a more independant position..we don’t have to promote or recommend their property, they do..our clients have other options..the private seller none.. presumably, since we do it every day and see all the comparables, we have more knowledge and experience in the marketplace…why else would anyone ever pay us..so im okay there..

    one of the arguments the cb made is that this “open system” exists in the us..i do not believe that is factually accurate..so i suppose we have a tabula rasa here..no other such system exists anywhere in the world..

    i can deal with someone selling who, because it could cost him money, money as per his mo he wishes to save, would be less forthcoming than my client might wish..we will independantly know or find out what we need to make a desision about his property..

    my concern is fradulent misrepresentations..stuff like our private seller says he has an offer, but doesn’t..what’s our recourse?..or he says he has an identical offer and my commission is in the way..but doesnt, what’s our recource?..we have some avenues, some remedies, if he’s represented..none, if the seller is not..

    a good part of why the current system works so well is in the way its structured..its obligations, disclosures and penalties..we are used to being lied to is what i am trying to say..but we currently have some recourse, if we are and it costs our client..

    worse, my concern is, it will become our problem, if an unrepresented seller fradulently represents something..our clients can see one set of houses on the market with some protection, the other its caveat emptor..this has to be dealt with..

    now, if the cb, which you suggest has unlimited resources and power, wants to back any losses suffered by consumers purchasing un represented properties, I’m starting to warm up..if, as part of the package, unrepresented sellers coming to the system must purchase government a backed e and o insurence policy, im warming to the project..

    but since thats unlikley, why is it your porsition this is us versus the cb..reco will now have to have, as they do in the car buisness, reponibility for going after unregistered sellers as well as registered dealers..in fact i understand that is most of their work..in that field major franchised dealers are not the major problem..unliccenced sellers are

    i agree discount brokers will continue to go bust..and you’re right, if instead of handling 90% of the trades we do 98%, the cb has created a cartel..one that didnt exist..

    actually, with respect, i believe consumer protection is a more powerful force…i believe that will trump the cbs position, as i presently understand it..

  48. Bill Lafferty

    Carl, it’s far from being over yet. In fact if this goes through, it will open up a can of worms,for other businesses and industries as well. When “rights of ownership” are taken away from one industry group by the government who’s next?This false accusation of CREA being anti-competitive when there are agents already out there charging as low as $500 to list a home is obviously a smoke screen for something else.I’d really like to know who is going to take the place of Realtors when all the sellers no longer have representation to negotiate for them and protect them legally,could it possibly be Lawyers?
    Have you ever seen a lawyer only be paid for positive results and not charge you for his time? Or negotiate and show flexibility in order as not to blow a deal? Have you ever known a lawyer to be available and work late evenings and weekends and be at your beacon call 24/7.Even if these sellers don’t use a lawyer,the lawyers will still get more than enough work when the courts are overflowing with realestate nightmare lawsuits.Blaine is absolutely right about MLS being an efficient,effective, competitive system.They want to steal our successful system that we pay for and own and at the sametime refuse our services.Something like having a winning champion football team where all the players are well trained professionals and they work extremely well together.Then some unsuccessful loser amateurs are envious and want to join the team and kick off half the team of pro players and take their place.How long do you think that team will continue successful.MLS is only successful because of it’s players who are all of it’s member Realtors.CREA has taken decades to perfect it’s system and service for the greatest benefit and protection of both buyer and seller.MLS system will not continue to succeed without it’s services from it’s licensed professional realtor members.

  49. Carl

    Many are drawing different analogies and comparisons (ie the licensed mechanic etc) and how unfair or unreasonable this case seems to be.

    I would agree in that respect.

    However, I think one thing to keep in mind is the anti-competitiveness charge also stems from within the membership by way of disenfranchised discount REALTORS. Certainly there are cases here in Ontario that many are aware of where this was the case.

  50. Bill Lafferty

    Carl,I certainly have no problem, neither does CREA with Discount Realtors provided they give the same fudiciary duty and care to their Seller in representing them,negotiating for them and legally protecting them, as I do.However, I do have a problem with Discount Realtors that merely list a property and abandon their Seller,and couldn’t care less about fudiciary duty to their seller in representing them properly leaving them on their own. That only bastardizes the professionalism and integrity of the Realestate Industry that CREA has perfected over many decades a system to protect both buyer and Seller through fudiciary duty to both parties to a transaction.Don’t want to play by the rules of any organization, that organization has the right to kick you out.

  51. Jason Steele

    Wow, isn’t this getting beaten to death! Amazing how one company a couple of years ago could get the ball rolling on this very issue. link to cbc.ca
    I read just a couple of weeks ago that TREB was justified in suspending this discounter….via the Ontario Superior Court…but you sure didn’t see that in the headlines eh? Media!
    link to remonline.com

  52. Tony Luke

    why is it “anti-competitive” when a “discount” broker goes under (because he suffers from cash flow starvation, created by a poor buisness model) and its not anti-competitive for any other broker to go under..we in ontario witness many more of the latter than the former, wouldn’t you agree..

  53. Bill Lafferty

    “Selling a home is one of the largest financial transactions that most Canadians make in their life time.”says Melanie Aitken Commissioner of the Competition Bureau. With that being said ,does it truly make sense for sellers to go unrepresented and unprotected in a realestate transaction????Does it not make much more sense and emphasize all the more so, a definite need for sellers to have professional,government regulated,licensed realestate representation where there is accountability? Not only does a professional Realtor represent the seller to sell his or her home through promotion and marketing, the Realtor has a fudiciary duty to the seller to work in the absolute best interests of the seller to protect the seller from the legal pitfalls that could possibly land him in a lawsuit. Also in order to get the absolute highest price for a home the seller really needs someone representing him to be a highly skilled experienced and powerfully effective negotiator.That Realtor through experience knows how to negotiate effectively and strongly with the Buyer’s Agent without losing the Buyer on the other side. Recently I sold a home to a Court Recorder who told me she would never buy or sell without a Realtor based on all of the Realestate nightmares where people bought or sold realestate on their own that she heard firsthand and recorded in the Courtroom.Before trying to knock out the 3 pillars of MLS which has taken decades to perfect, perhaps the Commissioner should think a little deeper about what she is trying to achieve.

  54. Blaine Mitton

    For anyone who does not think there is competition just have a look at the following web site and do a map search. I do not know what the Competition Bureau is on about?
    Actually Realtors should be concerned, but not about the competition bureau
    link to bytheowner.com

  55. Bill Lafferty

    Blaine, It’s competition within our own industry of the CREA that the Commissioner of the Competition Bureau is falsely accusing the CREA of being anti-competitive. Although there already are licensed Realtors out there that charge as low as a few hundred dollars to list a home on MLS. That’s not good enough for this Commissioner she wants to attempt to take our “rights of ownership” away,yes hijack our MLS system that CREA and it’s members own and pay for and totally reject all of our seller representative listing services under the false accusation and guise that the CREA is anti-competitive.She doesn’nt believe that sellers need to be represented and legally protected in selling their homes and can easily do it on their own using our MLS system that CREA and it’s Realtor members own and pay for. The 3 pillars in our MLS contract outline our Seller representative services to the seller and this Commissioner wants to knock them completely out and reject all of our services to the seller.I wonder if this will carry over to other businesses where we can use what they own and reject all of their services and accuse them of being anti-competitive and they can’t do a thing about it.Quite interesting is’nt it?

  56. Tony Luke

    its interesting, the one possibility the cb hasn’t considered is, “you get what you pay for..”

    since they appear to dismiss our position, that we offer significant protection to the consumer, it seems logical to ask, how they propose offering that protection, with public posting to mls..

    handing that problem to a tribunal seems more an abandonment of the cbs role, than improvement to what exists..I doubt they will enjoy the challenge..

    change is inevitable and people who practice real estate are well aware of the speed and significance of change.

    however, ill though out, unexamined, change or change per se is often worse than the status quo..however unexciting that may seem..the world is full of elixr salesman and websites that promise 3 clicks and you’re done..we know why the consumer shuns them..

    “you say you want a revolution, well you know, we all want to change the world…You say you got a real solution, well you know, We’d all love to see the plan”

    Crea has a good one..

  57. Blaine Mitton

    Bill

    Not many Mittons around,,, Most are originally from the Maritimes,,,, no I don’t know Norris,,,, thanks for asking
    Blaine

  58. Bill Lafferty

    Tony, thats absolutely correct.CREA is already very competitive. Really I feel this Commissioner is very arrogant to think she is so much wiser and knows better than CREA. CREA has taken decades through experience,trial and error to perfect a system that finally gives fudiciary duty, accountability,full protection and greatest benefit to both the buyer and seller in a realestate transaction. Leaving Sellers unrepresented and unprotected in “the largest finanacial transaction in their lifetime.” (Comissioner’s own words)is both irresponsible and reckless.Also taking the “Rights of Ownership” away from any business or industry or dictating how they use what they own,eliminating their services under the guise and false accusation of being anti-competitive is corrupt and totally against free enterprise.All other industries and businesses should also be very concerned about this Commissioner since if she has her way,using owned systems or what belongs to a business and eliminating their services under the guise of not giving the consumer choices and being falsely accused of being anti-competitive will be the way of the dismal future.

  59. eileen joel

    I am delighted to read sensible comments I feel very “muzzled” right now so thank you for posting…continued good comments success.. Thank you…Eileen

  60. Tony Luke

    Bill,

    well we tried…

    beats me why people, charged with responsibility for ensuring a marketplace is competitive and protective of the consumer, don’t speak to a broad range of people who do it for a living….there are a whole host of professionally managed, well heeled, competitors no longer in the business who would grin at the suggestion, real estate brokerage is hugely profitable and lacking in competition..why focus on just the discount brokers who went bust..or private sellers who failed to appreciate what it takes..those “markets”, those “avenues” or “options”, have always been open..and those who have opted for it often find the party “on the other side” is after the same “savings” they seek..yet this strikes as a surprising revelation..

    on the one hand, real estate’s exceptionally simple, certainly no law degree is required… on the other, its a marketplace of “product” and “services” of some complexity….its not a chem. lab where variables can be controlled..shades of “grey are usually more right, than the comfort of absolute “black” or “white”… “trade off” is real, not theoretical…those who seek the comfort of absolutes and axioms, which “always apply”, are bound to be disappointed..a world of cds, guaranteed returns, it aint….the rules and regs we use offer as much security was we think you can get..and were always learning, always updating it….an agent “in the market” every day is worth every penny paid..

    I really don’t get the impression the “homework has been done”..someone, with preconceived notions, is trying to “wing it”..casting aspersions, suggesting the consumer is being overcharged and ripped off, given the options open to consumers, has been quite a spectacle..

    one can do no more than crea has done to try to educate and inform..dismissing creas point of view (like “what would they know?”)… as self serving, anticompetitive and lacking in merit looks to me to be “hubris”..

    im just “a young guy, from a small town”, but it strikes me Bill, the cbs “hearing aid” is in the “off position” , malheuresement..

  61. Bill Lafferty

    Tony, How ridiculous to think that turning the MLS system into another unsuccessful FSBO website saying Buyer’s Agents welcome is the utopia for sellers.I really believe that this Commissioner is out to make an opening and make work program for her lawyer friends by destroying the CREA.

  62. Tony Luke

    actually bill, i believe the cbs resorting to the kind of media attack we witnessed, means they lack confidence in their position.

  63. Jason Steele

    I think maybe it’s time to put this blog ranting to bed.
    The CB has made their point and shifted public opinion where they want it, whether they get to move on in the Tribunal or not. Does nobody think that this has further tarnished the professional real estate career already…they won, to a point, without even being at the tribunal especially when people post and post and post on public forum, taking work away from the already over zealous newpapers.
    Did the public hear all about Mr. Beech and how his case was thrown out/over turned from the Ontario Superior Court, NO, becuase the media and CB don’t want that out there as it only solidifies our case. The Only place I was able to find it was in REM online.
    This is really getting tiresome, move on, by not adding fuel to the already burning blaze, rather lets extinguish it with our professionalism and reasons why real estate needs to stay professional.

    My last two cents.

  64. John Raskob

    I have read through Richard’s email and the blog responses of many real estate professionals to his email article. There is so much to be said about this current issue that it is mind-boggling. Having been a real estate agent twice licensed in my life, 35 years ago and most recently to assist my wife as her licensed assistant while I continue my own career, I can attest that this is a real profession with real (initial and continuing) training; real transactions where paper/electronic trails are critical in terms of timing; and real contract law where proper signatures and witnesses are required to ensure that a legal and binding contract exists; and where mistakes may translate to big fines or loss of licensed privileges for real estate professionals issued by the very body that governs them. Next to the legal profession, it is one of the most highly disciplined and structured bodies in Canada with its sole purpose to protect the interest of the consumer. After all, isn’t that what the Competition Bureau really wishes to protect? Let’s play out some potential scenarios when everyone and their brother begins opening up little league websites to market houses for consumers based on the integrity of the consumer’s unsubstantiated claims: Four Bedroom Executive Home in Markham, Ontario (actually a 3 BR, but one bedroom is claimed in the basement by a small room without a closet); 3,800 square feet (measured by the owner as he incorrectly included the garage and screened in porch); and a high efficiency furnace that is actually a mid-efficiency furnace.
    I am a 53 year old university educated professional who works in another industry and I recently took the three initial mandatory courses, where a pass rate of 75% is required. These courses were indeed challenging, and meant to ensure that people entering this business are serious about doing it right….for the consumer!
    I liked the analogy made by one person in his blog response, comparing a similar situation with someone wanting their brakes on their vehicle fixed, and instead borrowing the licensed mechanics tools to do the job for himself/herself. The licensed mechanic became licensed on brake repair and other critical vehicle problems such as tire wear indicators, steering, and transmission operations, etc. to protect not only the person driving the vehicle, but other people on the road (the public) from harm and possible death. No problem with competition in this example, but you don’t see the average person hoisting a car in their home garage to change brakes unless they really know what they are doing and are licensed – in fact, I believe that may even be against the law! The Toronto Star did a massive undercover investigation last summer about legalized training courses for personal aides and security officers and the like, determining that the Ontario government needs to be more diligent and scrupulous in their undertakings with respect to granting licenses for training schools. In one case, a personal aide worker was granted a license within two weeks through lame training, and this person would have gone on to assume the role of caregiver to senior citizens and people with physical disabilities! What next in the real estate profession, homes being sold with UFFI and Stachybotrys (toxic black mold) without the knowledge of the buyer?
    I am all for ensuring equal and fair competition, so don’t get me wrong. I just want to know that homeowners and the public (specifically, potential buyers) are protected. The consequences otherwise are potentially drastic. Have we not learned enough from the greed of Wall Street in the financial demise of the sub-prime mortgage lending crisis over the past decade that came to a sudden collapse in the Fall of 2008? This is exactly what could happen as opening up competition may indeed be the equivalent of deregulation, unless there is a strong industry watchdog overseeing everything from listings to transactions, and the myriad of legal transactions in between. MLS does that – will the other 50+ real estate websites guarantee this same level of service and security for the consumer?
    Some homeowners think they know real estate well, and some in fact too well. In fact, at any social gathering, there are some people who may appear to be the expert, or at the very least, have an opinion about real estate prices and other aspects of the business. These are the very same people who list their homes 30% above the market price and wonder why their homes do not ever sell four or six months later, of course blaming the sales representative. They have not done, nor have they been trained to do a proper comparative market assessment and they do not even have access to the database (that the MLS has invested heavily in) that provides this very information. The point made here is that any change to the industry that allows the consumer too much access or freedom with respect to making these decisions without professional assistance, is a potential threat to the real estate market in terms of pricing, legal risk, and business integrity. Even chartered accountants have a very strong caveat in their contractual wording that simply amounts to something close to the following: ‘we do not accept any liability for auditing your company’s books and can only report what is provided to us’. That indeed will be the equivalent of these on-line real estate trading websites. Inversely though, the MLS system is bound by accuracy of information on their website, uploaded by the very professionals that are serving the public and would be ultimately liable (by fine and/or suspension) for any missed or inaccurate information, even in some cases if unknown!
    The doors will only swing as wide as the walls and that is why hinges and other hardware prevent walls from being damaged. Analogously, this change would open the walls with no hardware or hinges, and the doors will crash big time. This is a certainty! I think the Competition Bureau have clearly redirected their efforts away from the hardest hit recession-vulnerable industries and are focusing on the one industry that actually performed well in 2009, ironically enough, as a result from the recessionary impact of low interest rates.
    Wow…my first blog! Hope you enjoyed it!
    John

  65. Richard Silver Post author

    Good for you John and welcome to the world of Blogging!! But that is another course that you will have to take to succeed as a REALTOR today! LOL!

  66. Barry Lebow

    Richard, I have been following each of the comments made on this posting and I want to commend you. Seldom have I read so many replies on a single topic. Most have made damn strong points and have given me fodder for an upcoming REM article. I really am pleased to see the response, I am very pleased that you have taken a strong position. You work for a brokerage that I have strong respect for as the Bosleys have made some of the great contributions to organized real estate and those now span generations. My respect for the Bosleys is at the highest level and they in turn can be proud of Richard Silver who works at the Bosley firm and has made and continues to make his own strong contribution to professional real estate. Richard, you are a special and giving man and I am proud to call you friend. You have my admiration and I know that you have a great deal to contribute in the future. We need more like you.

  67. Dave Kinskey

    Richard, you’ve written an excellent description of the realities of our business and the misperceptions which many people have. Some MLS’s here in the USA are facing similar challenges. The only way some greedy people will be satisfied is if we always work for free and give away our services, our time, and our expertise so that THEY themselves can profit. Without the exposure and services provided through the MLS’s, property owners would find themselves unable to find the best buyers for their properties or not find a buyer at all. How would they profit then? If they don’t want to use our services and want to sell “for sale by owner” creating and paying for their own marketing, that’s their choice, but they have no right to use the MLS without hiring a REALTOR® (who will never get paid if the agent does not get results). We work without pay often enough when sellers refuse to reasonably price their homes in the range we advise or when a transaction falls through because of buyer financing problems or other causes. Countless hours, long days and late nights go uncompensated while our families catch short glimpses of us during our endless work days. Perhaps those who want to use the MLS’s for free should, in exchange, provide all REALTORS® with many hours of their own services, products, or expertise at no cost. Would they understand how that would only be fair?

  68. Carl

    Richard, I was going to ask you to provide a copy of this blog posts (and comments) to the REBarCamp TO attendees…but at this rate, I think we’re better off saving the Sequoia.

  69. Tony Luke

    one of the keys to success, of brokerage firms, is the ability to attract and retain the most knowledgeable, experienced and best performing agents..it has usually followed that the absence of those skills has lead firms in a different direction..

    the cb, having naturally thoroughly researched all the various business models attempted, will be aware that at least one national broker employer once offered high producing agents a contributory, defined benefit, pension plan, and group life, and group disability, and a dental plan and a bonus plan generating a 60% agent , 40% company split of gross commissions..the general costs of management, office and marketing expenses was absorbed in the firms 40%.. this kind of benefit plan will be quite familiar to employees of the cb, since they enjoy such plans themselves..except of course, regardless of weather their pension plan is fully funded, they are entitled to pensions indexed to inflation..im fairly sure they would argue their compensation plan has been constructed to bring them the best people in their field….

    in the real estate brokerage business, that model of commissions and benefits was regarded as too expensive, to generate profitability…turned out, like many discount brokers, to be unsustainable..today agents are, much more often, independent contractors..responsible for their own operating costs…the cra has granted that status because it accepted that one of its defining criteria was met..and that criteria was independent contractors “must be able to establish their own commission rate”..which means precisely that..it does not mean agents have to charge less than they believe their services are worth.. .or less than their clients are willing to pay..

    yet the cb, whose employee are familiar with the type of benefit package listed above and purpose for it, have advanced the proposition that agents are overpaid… and further that its the bureaus responsibility to ensure businesses with lower operating costs thrive, so as to attempt to influence the marketplace and reduce all agents incomes.

    its apparently not enough for the cb that the price competition thrives and consumers vote daily..and that the consumer overwhelmingly votes for the kind of agent the best firms seek..

    thank you richard for the forum and to all posters who felt they wished to speak..however long they wish to..

  70. Bill Lafferty

    Carl,who exactly are you and where do you fit in,are you one of us or from the competition Bureau?

  71. Carl

    Bill,

    I’m the next Grand Master in line of the Priory of Sion… but in my spare time, I’ve an avid blogger.

  72. Bill Lafferty

    Carl,go figure, I knew you definitely were not one of us!!!!Had to be somebody way out there!

  73. Ben Schmidt

    Great article! Interesting to see how this will all turn out. You’ve raised some good points that I’ve added to my arsenal, next time a seller questions my commission!

  74. Bill Lafferty

    The reason I say that the CREA is being falsely accused of being anti-competitive is that there are already all kinds of competition in our Industry.There are plenty of Discount Realtors and varying competitive commission structures that range from a few hundred dollars to list a home to several thousand dollars to list a home. What’s this Commissioner of the Competition Bureau’s problem??? I’ll tell you what her problem is,she wants to go beyond competition and self appoint herself to be the new Commissioner of Realestate and hold herself out as an expert in a field she knows very little about.Preaching that sellers don’t need professional licensed representation,fudiciary duty and protection in the most important financial transaction of their life, and can easily do it on their own. Further to this,she actually wants to dictate and control,even give away what we both own and pay for,our MLS system. It’s like going up to a Cab driver and having the nerve to demand from him that you want to use his vehicle that he owns and pays for but you don’t want to pay for his driving services,that for a reduced small fee you will do your own driving even though you’re not licensed. When the Cab driver refuses,the Government steps in and accuses him that he’s restricting the public choices and is anti-competitive. The Mls system is our vehicle which we own and pay for and the seller services we provide is our livelihood.We are a service industry and we depend on our vehicle or system the MLS to perform our services,the two go hand in hand.Because we refuse to separate our system from our services does that make us or the CREA anti-competitive????? Who does this Commissioner think she is to give away to FSBO’s something that does not belong to her,OUR MLS system.Which we own and pay for, and then have the nerve and audacity to cancel out (or make it an option) our seller services?? By the way,do we still have free enterprise and “rights of ownership” in Canada or is that only the way it use to be??????

  75. Bill Lafferty

    If this Commissioner of Competition was really concerned about consumers she would be going after the Banks.Right now they are charging huge mortgage penalties like $20,000-$30,000 to people that really need to sell their homes and that have no way out of their situation other than going bankrupt.Mortgage penalties are certainly not negotiable like Realestate commissions are.Of course she would be too gutless to take on the Big Banks.She would much rather pick on Realtors in which many if the real truth were known struggle to make a living after all their expenses.

  76. DJ Rowan

    Honestly Everyone, many of my friends are realtors and some right at the top…they make a ton of money. But when we sit down and have a glass of wine, they are also very honest about the profession. After 1992-3 it is my understanding that the info that you guarded with your heart on the mls began to be disclosed so over the years the internet has not become your friend with dispursed info everywhere. Before then we had to call you for pics, info, etc…reality is now we don’t have to call you. So, why are you charging 5% now when the role has changed. Are you telling me that my 10 friends lie about the industry where they tell me that the large majority of realtors in each of thier offices upload to the mls, buy a small ad in a newspaper for a day and preach thats marketing for that 5% of the list price. Whats great about the flat fee option is that we wil get rid of the losers who should not get the listings ( because they do the minimal for that 5% ) and the marketers who do offer value and a solid marketng plan will continue to strive. Whats wrong with that? I’ve seen realtors spend more money on placing thier faces on benches in Leaside where I live for years and then placing a home worth $700,000+ in a box ( 2 inches x 1 inch ) in our local paper. Do you think realtors that spend more money on them vs the homes they list deserve the listing??? Thats sad.

  77. Tony Luke

    dj

    i’m having trouble following your logic..

    you say its very easy to sell a house…clearly you can sell yours privately…keep all the money and pay no one..even put that low cost ad of yours right next to an agents..now maybe your private buyer will be after half of what they think you’ve “saved” in comissions..or maybe you will have to pay a selling broker for bringing you an offer, if you fail..but that still leaves you way ahead, theoretically anyway. choice is all yours..

    and if, the little you claim agents do, is too much for you, you can use a flat fee service..

    sounds to me like you have options, the market for real estate services functions..

    you ought to be as happy as a clam then..

  78. Bill Lafferty

    DJ Rowan,You just love to harp on 5%!!!I haven’t charged 5% for years,neither do many of my associates that I work with charge 5% commission either. Commissions are NOT STARDARD,THEY ARE NEGOTIABLE!!If you think being in Realestate is such a cake walk and it’s easy.Why don’t you leave the security of your steady pay cheque and become a Realtor on straight commission with all the expenses that go with it? Then you would find the joy of having to do business with jerks like yourself who have no appreciation for the services Realtors provide.Of course you would never have the guts to leave your job to become a Realtor. Because in order to get a paycheque you’d have to produce positive results.

  79. DJ Rowan

    WOW! I forwarded your comments to my friends who are amazed at your attack on me. Whether you wish to appreciate where the consumer is today and has been for years on thier opinion of real estate agents is your business but if you don’t soon realize that thier opinion of you ( right or wrong ) justified or not, you will learn nothing from all of this. What other industry do you know of that allows you to get into it with minimal capital expenditure. What industry do you know that has multiples of thousands of realtors who are licensed who have sold nothing in the last year. Lord, a year ago it was an open book course – how rediculous. Brokers/Owners don’t care about quality any more, they care about filling seats. What is it that don’t see or are you one of these people that has made so much money by doing nothing for the seller but making excuses for spending little money and preaching it was all about the MLS. If its all about the MLS, what do I need you for?

  80. Bill Lafferty

    DJ Rowan, I resent very much your ignorant and prejudiced ill-informed attacks on Realtors. As soon as you feel attacked it’s Boo Hoo!! and you run to your friends for support and comfort. What a Cry Baby,you can dish it out but you can’t take it!!You hold yourself out as some kind of expert on the realestate profession and how easy it is to sell Realestate. What’s your profession?? Or do you even have one? One thing is for sure,it sure isn’t dealing in the real world like Realtors have to,or you wouldn’t be making the ridiculous comments you’ve been making.How many homes have you personally sold as a FSBO to make you such an authority on Realestate???

  81. DJ Rowan

    Bill did you read page 2 of REM March 2010…Michael Polzler, EVP of REMAX article. You may feel foolish once you read it…even he says some things that may shock you. I am a developer and made my money a long time ago as a entrepeneur. You obviously are still struggling which is too bad.

  82. Tony Luke

    DJ,

    I’m still unclear on what your problem is..

    you say you’re a builder..I assume you have been selecting a good agent, for yourself..paying them what you feel they are worth..or not selecting one, if you cant find an agent who knows more than you do about the real estate market..

    I get the feeling you’re mad at agents you dont wish to hire..you admit the business is Darwinian..then you object that it is..

    I see infill houses I don’t recommend my clients buy. either because we do not think they are well built, or they arent worth whats being asked..we have a pretty sharp inspector for another opinion..I saw one property a city inspectors actually hadn’t approved..but it does not follow I hate the building industry..or find city inspectors all careless or opaque..some builders are good, some very good, some not so good..just because someone gets a line of credit , doesn’t make them a good builder..some want a lot for their property. and are worth it.. some aren’t..if a client of mine don’t see what we like we pass..end of story..

    is what you’re saying that you cant figure out who to use an agent, or how much an agent is worth to you?..please understand if you think no agent is worth a cent of your money, I may disagree…but im not offended..

    the gist of the cbs complaint appears to be an erroneous view imo that there isn’t enough competition in real estate brokerage..you seem to be confirming that you agree, there is a variance of skills and commissions..you have choice..

  83. DJ Rowan

    Tony did you read Michaels article. The majority of agents need to get a job. Lets keep the good ones, who offer value, who market and advertise properly and give them the listings. My point is this: the losers are the ones that have created the image in your industry that all realtors offer no value. I know thats not true but 80% offer no value simply because it has always been tooooooooooooooo easy to get a real estate license. do you disagree with me and do do you disagree with Micahel from REMax

  84. Tony Luke

    DJ,

    actually I cant find it on remonline and I don’t have rem magazine, right now..I will respond when I do..

    in the marketplace where I work, which is all its fair for me to comment on, the agents are experienced, professional and know what they are doing..or they would not be hired in the first place..we have come a long way, in educational requirements, compliance and regulation..when I travel outside Canada, I marvel at what we have..I think were better at real estate brokerage than we are relatively at hockey on the world stage..from the registry system, to the people who practice real estate law, to the course instructors and regulators and yes to our mls system I am truly impressed with the progress ive seen ..and it has meant great things for the consumers..its produced a very efficient marketplace..dare I suggest, considering were talking about real estate, its much closer to the liquidity of a stock market than when I started..yet the trade itself is far more complex..the level of disclosure and information available to the consumer is, lets face it, fantastic..and just who would you credit for that, if not agents and brokers..

    do we have issues, sure we do..but I think there is someone somewhere in our business working to fix it or draw attention to it..we lobby for change at all levels of government and its really very impressive the volunteers commitment..not all resistance to change is ours. sometimes we make a simple logical recommendation on taxation, of all kinds, or regulation and the people were talking to simply don’t get it..at least not right away..

    as to how improve the quality of agents, there are a number of problems and a lack of easy solutions..trade offs present themselves…do you wish to regulate the number of licences..I think on balance no..do you wish to raise the level of courses and training required, maybe..I don’t think you can limit the number of firms either..or the number of agents a firm can hire..its true the barriers to entry aren’t as high as some businesses….certainly as the professions….but a lot of people find out very quickly its not an easy business…

    I find it interesting to watch akio toyoda explain the risk of decontenting and the cost of searching for price reductions over quality control…while I see a federal agency set out to champion a reduction in price, with no attendant concern for quality..seems that’s “not their department”..it sure is ours..

    I like agents.. I like the business..its a challenge..its even been my pleasure to try to manage agents..ill put this to you..considering the investment made by, and in, the agent, and what must be done to get hired and stay in the business..to need to know more than your clients..and finally to accept the fact not a red cent is owed “until successful completion” all makes 5% seem very reasonable, to me anyway..

  85. DJ Rowan

    I’m with you but the fact is that the majprity of realtors today wait for a consumer to find the home on the MLS and don’t try to find the buyers. They think marketing is to appease the vendor vs create interest in that specific house. They have hid behind the MLS for year, most have spent little money, most don’t understand why they have a web site – and many have made money in the great times when Helen Keller could have sold real estate. My friends are honest and one is right at the top in Toronto and I guarantee you that you know who she is. She says most spend little in advertising and preach MLS. My point is this…if its about MLS what do I need you for?

  86. Tony Luke

    DJ,

    mls’ effectiveness cant be divorced from its constructors and users..its a marketplace..its about money and it has rules..so yes my answer is, without me, “figuratively” naturally, without agents really, you have no mls..

    if, to continue the figurative analogy, im not there, you’ve got nothing..it would become a craigslist, if not run by and for the people who pay for it.. it would become very quickly…”que sera sera” land..

    someone said they have superior systems in the US. “enhancements” like crime statistics!..way to redcircle a city!!!…and cement its decline..Toronto is healthy because agents and buyers didn’t feel that way..Terry Martell, Darrel Kent and all those agents and firms they spawned take a bow..

    and why is an agent not doing their job if they don’t “cross” every deal..”double end ” in our terms..in what business is crossing deals the best measure of performance..

    come to think of it, I can’t think of business where pricing is not important ..apparently that’s not a skill you see requiring any effort..what? you sit at a screen and get that..that’s how you know the difference between 3.7 and 4.5? you have a property in that range and think finding someone who simply sits at a computer and will do it for 3 is “a plan”?..

    following your lead, I guess the question is, could Helen Keller “list to last”…I don’t know, maybe yes, maybe no. I will say this, for certain, the ease of doing the job and modesty about the combination of drive and skills possessed by high earners has been undersold to you..the fact is high producers have an ability to connect with people.. they have an unusual combination of skills..as a bit of a student id say this, if they choose to tell you its easy and you believe them, what can I say.. I am a better judge of what it takes than you.. the combination of skills is rare..

    not that mortals cant do it…

    I will say this as well, you can have all your theories about what little it takes and how little work it is, but you will rarely be able to discern who will succeed until you test them in the field..I do not believe for one second that making a lot of money in real estate is like “shooting fish in a barrel”.. something that anyone with simple access to mls alone can accomplish..

    I don’t think making money in any field is easy actually..but real estate does, initially anyway, attract its share of those who see it as simple. a route to mucho dinero…till they try to make a living at it..

    then the rose coloured glasses get askew…

    Ill grant you this DJ, id love it to have been that easy for me..

  87. Tony Luke

    DJ,

    I promise to read the article..in the meantime, trying to address your concerns, ive a couple thoughts for your consideration

    papers routinely run ads suggesting “you can work at home and make 100,000 a year in you spare time, working just a few hours work a week”..now I don’t know about you, but that seems unlikely to me..

    I also don’t buy the argument, some have made, that we in the business have done a poor job of “explaining” our worth..it doesn’t make me feel any better, when my dealership wants 122 an hour, for me to get a piece of paper that says their investment is large..I am aware of my surroundings..if I though I could get the same knowledge and service for half price id go for it..but somewhere along the line I began to doubt magic..

    as for “hiding behind mls”, all the net has done is move listings to buyers and sellers faster..now you don’t have to manually pull and send or fax listings…but that’s all that changed..it’s removed a clerical component.. years ago some felt security and power in their agent handing them mls books..but that didn’t change the value of an agents knowledge or service an iota..

  88. DJ Rowan

    Tony you must be over 50. There is tons of evidence and data that shows that consumers lack confidence in your value but you have blinders on.

  89. Tony Luke

    DJ,

    I can see you wont be a client of mine..too bad..im rather young at heart actually..i wonder what you will do..i suspect you will hire an agent who works full time and you will see value in their commision..or maybe not..maybe you will hire someone for the price of a used bike (is there a catch to that offer?) either way you have choice..now that you cannot complain about..

  90. DJ Rowan

    don’t shoot the messanger…the research data is what it is and there is a lack of confidence in the realtor role…read Michaels letter. You can then call him and tell him he is crazy too.

  91. Tony Luke

    dj, cant find the comments..so ill have to continue doing my own thinking..ive not suggested anyone is cazy…but i definately do not accept your premise..ive laid out how i see the buisness..and what i forsee..

    perhaps you can tell me how you think the business will change and what you like about the change you anticipate..

  92. Bill Lafferty

    DJ Rowan,If in your opinion Realtors are so useless and not needed. Why is it then that it’s a known fact that 90% of FSBO’s who can’t sell their own homes have to eventually turn to Realtors in order to get their homes sold?
    Turning our presently successful MLS system into another unsuccessful FSBO website is not going to make FSBO’s anymore successful selling their homes than before. Why?
    BECAUSE IT’S THE REALTORS AND THEIR SERVICES BEHIND THE MLS SYSTEM THAT SELL THE HOMES and make the MLS system successful!!!Also do you really want to know why there are people that are obsessed with having a strong dislike for Realtors,you being one of them?? It’s because of being downright jealous and envious of a Realtor’s success and the money they earn.By the way if you’re such a big time developer as you say you are,why do you care what a Realtor earns?

  93. Bill Lafferty

    Dj Rowan, Can’t refute the facts and what I’m saying so that’s your answer??

  94. DJ Rowan

    I love good realtors…many are my best friends. I don’t have alot of time for those of you that charge the % you do and post it on MLS and go on vacation…read the research. Theres tons of it.

  95. Tony Luke

    DJ,

    Pleased to hear you like some agents!

    im wondering if I should be in awe of agents who can get hired, at 5%, post it on mls, and go on vacation, while the listing magically sells itself….my experience seems a little different..

    however, assuming this reserch you mention is actually accurate and fair, could we move to solutions for problems? what do you advocate?

    and how in your opinion does that relate to press reports the cb seeks public posting on mls?..reports some say are not accurate, but which have not been corrected by the cb.

  96. Bill Lafferty

    DJ, We finally agree!!!!!!That’s exactly how I feel. I work very hard for my Clients. I honestly care that I sell their home for as much money as possible and as quickly as I can. I take pride in my work and my negotiation skills,I’ve been doing this for 26 years and I feel a strong fudiciary Duty to my client to represent them in the best possible way. What I really resent is when agents just list and don’t give a hoot about their clients.That’s why I strongly oppose Realtors merely posting listings and not representing their seller’s best interests. It cheapens and de-values our industry.I agree if Agents are not professional I’d like to see them leave the industry. However what this Competiton Bureau is trying to do,is encourage losers to be mere posting agents that do nothing but post listings for FSBO’s on our professional system that we own and pay for. What the CB are in effect saying is that professional Realtors are not needed and I resent that!I don’t mind competiton,I don’t care commissions are negotiable,I have no problem with Discount Realtors as long as they have the same fudiciary duty to their client and fully do the same job and give the same service I do in representing their client.That’s why I feel strongly incensed about this attack on our profession by this Commissioner of the Competition Bureau who I believe has a hidden agenda being the lawyer that she is.

  97. Bill Lafferty

    Tony, it’s good to know that we are all on the same page now. We all agree that these loser agents that want to be mere poster agents on the MLS and not properly represent and work for their sellers and give them fudiciary duty should either leave or get kicked out of the Industry.In fact that’s what is really behind the problem with the CB. Is that these loser agents have complained to the CB about being kicked out of the Industry by the CREA and then in retaliation falsely accused CREA of being anti-competitive.CB wants to further bastardize our industry by allowing these lazy losers to stay in and encourage their uselessness by striking down the 3 pillars of MLS.

  98. Jo-Ann McLellan

    Thank you for your thoughts on the Competition Bureau. I have been with RLP for 18 years in Vancouver and Kelowna BC and this just puts the icing on the cake. The commission split we started with 18 years ago was the same as now and although housing prices have gone up so have the expenses and the amount of paper work has quadrupled. To allow anyone be able to fire a listing onto the MLS and not have to abide by our rules puts us all in a negative position. Our clients will see these listings on MLS.ca and we as Realtors will be obliged to show them with the rules only on one side, So it will become like showing the homes of FSBO’s but with no incentive of perhaps getting a listing, and having to do both sides of the work for half the commission. People are shocked to learn that we Realtors are more regulated as an industry than doctors are.

  99. Gordon Hovey

    I must have missed the boat somewhere along the line. I never heard anything about fisbos wanting to use the MLS System on the Competition Bureau’s investigation into the MLS system. I was told it was one of our own Licensed Realtors (salesmen or whatever we are this week)that wants to put listings on the MLS at a much lower rate than most.I think all this talk by the Fisbo people is not what the case is all about.. Maybe Im wrong .

  100. Bill Lafferty

    Hi Gordon,True FSBO’s themselves cannot put their home on MLS. However they will be able for a small fee have a Realtor merely post a listing and then refuse all representative services. It will turn our MLS system that we pay for and own into another FSBO site welcoming buyers agents to deal direct with the Seller.All the lazy loser agents looking for a fast buck won’t have to represent the seller and give them fudiciary duty as the 3 pillars enforces. We will just be MLS poster people on the MLS system that we both own and pay for.This Commissioner is out to Hijack our MLS system under the false guise and accusation that CREA is anti-competitive. To believe that this will turn out well is as naive as to believe that if someone Hijacks your plane that you own that everthing will work out fine.This is outright theft of our MLS system.Since when does this Commissioner have the right to dictate how we use our MLS sytem and deny us our services that we offer? We as Realtors are a service industry and we already are competitive in our commissions,thats not good enough for this lawyer Commissioner of the Competition Bureau. I wonder who she plans replacing listing Realtors with? Maybe lawyers?

  101. Tony Luke

    i supect one of the reasons the cb does not realize price competition truly exists is because, at their insistence, the total commission payable is no longer provided on a listing..

  102. Tony Luke

    DJ,

    on the connection between the “value” of an agent and the division of income in the business….first, “it was ever thus”..whether it was the top 20% doing 80% of the volume, or the top 30% doing 70%, that relationship has been true of the business for a very long time.. I suspect its true of a lot of business actually..there are “rainmakers” in law and accounting, top producers in insurance and the stock brokerage business..there are also many members of those teams do not fit that “rainmaking” profile, but who have skills that provide value to clients..one might even suggest the best firms are innovative and use what they have wisely.. Oscars don’t just go to divas..

    a better measure of a firm is productivity per agent..and its market share in an area..the cb has unfortunately fallen into the trap of equating “value” with “price”, all other factors being constant…but they never are….I suspect if members of the cb were in need of a lawyer, they would not be focussed exclusively on price..what happens in other markets is the poor get to “day trade”, often getting their heads handed to them in a basket… and the rich have an advisor..and of that group, few place the size of “the book of clients” above whether they think they are served well.

    so while I think its unfortunate more agents don’t make more money, I don’t think, looking across a broader spectrum, the situation is as rare or damming as you suggest…

  103. Bill Lafferty

    This whole thing with the CB is not about competition in the Realestate Industry. Since commissions are already negotiable and there are all kinds of differing commission structures to choose from a few hundred dollars to list a home to thousands of dollars to list a home. Instead this absurd Commissioner of the Competition Bureau is trying to hijack the MLS system belonging to the CREA and making it an option to reject the services of Realtors. We as Realtors are a Service Industry. Should MLS our system be only for Realtors? In view of the fact,Realtors both own and have paid for it, for years,and are licensed to use it and it is “Trade Marked”. That decision can only be totally up to it’s owners the CREA and it’s Realtor members.Unless of course we are under a Communist Government where there is no such thing as “Rights of Ownership” or What is “Trade Marked,and then I guess that Government could dictate and enforce it’s will.What kind of government is Canada and what position does it take when it comes to “Rights of Ownership” or what is “trade marked” for any Industry or business??It remains to be seen. However if the Canadian Government does takeover the MLS system belonging to Realtors of the CREA and deny Realtor services as an option. Then how would it be any different than a Communist government???Then what other Industry or Business will be the next target for the Government to go after what they own or have “trade marked”??Whether you like Realtors or not,when “Freedoms and Rights” are taken away from one group,who’s next?

  104. Tony Luke

    Bill,

    I’m not as convinced its a conspiracy. but then I believe Oswald shot JFK.. and Glen Beck is the funniest comedian active..I do think whether the spec tax in 76, the jacking of rates in 91, or the increasing burden placed on property owners by the recent doubling of land transfer taxes in Toronto, that government is much better at regulation and consumer protection (when they work with brokers and those who rely on mls) than they are at attempting to intervene in the real estate marketplace, or moving in to pick up in tax what some agents chose to give up in compensation in a competitive marketplace……in fact by championing those who suggest a consumer gets the same thing paying 695 (small print that’s actually not so, withstanding) as they get from a full time agent the commission is encouraging misrepresentation….

  105. Bill Lafferty

    Tony, I’m not a Discount Realtor. However I have no problem with Discount Realtors charging whatever they like,provided they give the same fudiciary duty and representive services to the Seller who hired them as we do.Your’e absolutely right about encouraging misrepresentation to a listing and a handful of other problems associated with it when there is a mere posting of a listing,which the CB is pushing for.

  106. Tony Luke

    Bill,

    recently I joined a large group at a pub to watch a junior world championship game. I sat at the back of the room with a junior a coach, who had previously coached the national junior team..as the crowd got louder and pointed in their criticism, he turned to me and said, “in Canada, everyone’s an expert at hockey”..

    struck me that’s also very true of real estate…in both fields, those who do it for a living often find, the work required is unappreciated, the skills required completely taken for granted..a common view, one poster here suggested, is all an agent has to do is put a property on mls and ka-ching the commission cheque is there to be cashed..occasionally, the critic may even be right..though somebody obviously knew where the market was..had they got it wrong and the property sat and got stale, it would gotten more expensive for the seller..

    the cb has a lot riding on “everyone’s an expert at real estate

  107. Bill Lafferty

    Tony, your’e absolutely right. We live in a know it all society. Everyone’s an expert at everything. They are smarter than any profession,you name it. It reminds you of the teenager that knows so much more than Mom and Dad having no experience in life.This Commissioner of the Competition Bureau is a know it all type, thinks She’s an expert in Realestate, as well as an opportunistic ambitious lawyer trying to make a name for herself.The name that comes to my mind is absurd.

  108. Wilf Mandel

    Richard, Great posting, and I agree with what you have said. However, I also have to agree with Barry Lebow’s comments. The reality is that you can go on and on about our costs and our return (i.e. that $30K commission is NOT all ours).
    Bottom line is that the consumer has only one thing in their sights: WIIFM – What’s in it for ME.
    Truly they could care less about our side of the transaction, other than of course than it would have been nice if we knocked off a point or two.

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