The days of extensive Toronto home sales data being restricted from public view are over—at least for now.
Following a ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal that the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) cannot prevent its members in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) from publishing certain details about property sales, real estate companies in the region have rushed to do just that. Finally liberated from data restrictions that have been enforced in the past—which included publicly displaying sales prices, historic sales, and realtor commissions—online services such as HouseSigma and MongoHouse have already begun providing more extensive housing information to the public at large.
"As a technology company that's always been focusing on the real estate industry, I think this is great news for us. We are able to provide much more transparency to Toronto home buyers and sellers," said Joseph Zeng, co-founder and CEO of HouseSigma.
Under the previous regulations, the most that HouseSigma employees could do for their clients was to provide them with data via e-mail or text message. It always had the technology and resources to display the information more publicly—just not the green light from the industry. Since that approval was given, though, the site's traffic has reportedly been "ridiculous."
What Zeng and his industry peers are offering can greatly empower prospective home buyers by lessening their need to rely on real estate agents.
"For example, for a $1-million house on the market right now, it could have been relisted 10 times before you saw that listing," Zeng said. "If you do not know that information when you buy the house, you have no idea how much you should offer for that place."
However, not everyone feels that that end is justified by the means it takes to get there.
"TREB is concerned and believes strongly that personal financial information of home buyers and sellers must continue to be protected and only safely disclosed with their knowledge and informed consent," said John DiMichele, the organization's CEO, in a statement Monday.
Once the Federal Court ruling was made, TREB stated its attentions to appeal is, and in the meantime, is seeking a court order to prevent the release of newly-approved data until the appeal is decided.