Ratified real-estate deal that broadens MLS access will reshape home-selling

The Canadian Real Estate Association has ratified a deal that some say will reshape the way Canadians sell their homes.

Delegates to the trade organization’s special general meeting in St. John’s on Sunday approved an agreement with the Competition Bureau that will allow home-sellers to pay for only those services they want from their real-estate agents.

The deal will prevent members of the association — which represents more than 96,000 realtors across Canada — from discriminating against real-estate agents who only offer posting services.

While association has said it does not believe such rules currently exist, it nonetheless acknowledges that if such practices are in place, they must be repealed or boards will lose their licence to operate under the Multiple Listing Service or MLS trademarks. MLS is owned by the association and accounts for roughly 90 per cent of Canadian home sales.

“This 10-year agreement brings a close to a long process of negotiation with the Competition Bureau and will allow CREA and REALTORS to do what they do best — help people with the biggest financial decision of their lives, buying and selling a home in these challenging economic times,” association president Georges Pahud said in a statement.

In February, the bureau launched a complaint against association, saying its practices were anti-competitive. The industry responded with sweeping changes that opened the window for agents to provide a series of a-la-carte options that include consumers merely listing their house on the system and handling the rest of the transaction themselves.

The agreement between the two parties sets the changes in stone.

“As a result of an agreement ratified today by members of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Canadians will have the ability to choose which services they want from a real-estate agent when selling their home, and to pay only for those selected services,” the Competition Bureau said.

“At the same time, the consent agreement between the Competition Bureau and CREA will ensure that real-estate agents have the flexibility to provide innovative service and pricing options to customers.”

The agreement is effective immediately.

Source: The National Post

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