Friday, February 19, 2010

MLS® - What's at Fault, The System or The People?

A great deal of media attention has arisen of late about how the Competition Bureau has decided to bring a case to the Competition Tribunal charging that the rules of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) governing MLS® systems are anti-competitive, restrict consumer choice and prevent innovation in the market for residential real estate.
Canadian consumers are very fortunate to have an MLS® system that is universally recognized nationwide. If you live in Vancouver or for that matter anywhere in the world and are being relocated to Toronto or you want to purchase a recreational or farm property in Canada, you need look not further than the Canadian Real Estate Association's online consumer website for MLS® property listings across Canada. Such a system does not exist in the U.S. for example where there may be multiple MLS® systems within a given state making it much harder for consumers to real estate shop online. MLS® rules govern how properties are listed on the service with the intent of ensuring that the integrity of the information that is available to consumers is complete and accurate. The fact that a home is listed on a real estate Board’s MLS® system provides an assurance to the public that the information regarding properties listed on Boards’ MLS® systems is accurate and reliable and that there is professional involvement and accountability for that information - all of which protects the interests of home buyers and sellers. Nowhere in the MLS® rules does it state what fees or commissions are to be charged. These are now and have always been negotiable between the seller and their listing REALTOR®. Further, REALTORS® are often required to make concessions in the commission payable in order to bring buyers and sellers together that are deadlocked over price.
There are many aspects to the MLS® issue and the action being taken by the Competition Bureau. If consumers were to be asked to render an opinion on MLS® I suspect that very few would describe it as anti-competitive. As is evidenced in the many comments being made by consumers on media websites, the major complaint is one of "value." Many consumers, far too many in fact have had a bad real estate experience. Their REALTOR® was inattentive to their needs, failed to follow-up as promised, failed to provide accurate information with respect to a specific property(s) and so in. In short, the consumer did not receive good value relative to the fee or commission that was paid to the REALTOR(S)®.
The Canadian Real Estate Association conducted a consumer survey some time back asking consumers what they looked for in a REALTOR®. Although the comments and opinions were widespread and varied, they all came down to one thing, value. As REALTORS® we must be knowledgeable both about the market and the product, professional in appearance and demeanor, possess a high degree of integrity, be hardworking and most importantly, place our clients needs and interests above all else. After all, we are being entrusted with handling the largest most valuable asset that most consumers will ever own and as such, it's not unrealistic to have high expectations of the person involved with the sale or purchase of that asset.
Far too often consumer's expectations are not being met. Their dissatisfaction being expressed on blogs and news sites is not the fault of MLS®, it's the fault of some of the people involved in the profession.
My Home Cents© Help Tip entitled "Selecting and Working With a REALTOR®" has some valuable points in helping you select a REALTOR® to handle your buying and selling needs. As consumers all any of us really want is good value for money spent. The real estate community has at times failed to live up to consumer expectations in this regard and rather than blame the system as in MLS®, we need look no further than at some of the people involved.

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Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


Direct: 705-443-1037

Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230


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Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.