Realtors lack access to TREB sales data despite promise to make it available
Light from the sunset hits the skyline in Toronto, Ont., on Tuesday October 31, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, September 19, 2018 4:25PM EDT
TORONTO -- Real estate companies that were promised access to a Toronto Real Estate Board feed of Greater Toronto Area home sales data on Tuesday said some are still waiting to get their hands on the numbers and others were slow to receive them.
John Pasalis, the president at Realosophy brokerage, said he sought access to the data by email on Monday evening. He followed up twice, but has yet to hear back, despite TREB saying the feed was due to be released on Tuesday at noon.
"It is understandable that they are going to be a little bit backlogged, but on the other hand, they knew this was coming," he said. "This has been in the pipeline for years."
Pasalis is no stranger to waiting on TREB. He was one of the brokers who helped the Competition Bureau argue over the past seven years that TREB should allow the data to be posted on realtors' password protected websites because keeping it off the sites would be anti-competitive.
Pasalis and the Bureau's fight ended in August, when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an application from TREB that aimed to keep the numbers off password-protected sites because the board was concerned about privacy and copyright.
Some real estate companies immediately published the data after the Supreme Court's decision, only to receive cease-and-desist letters from TREB warning of loss of data access, revocation of TREB membership or legal action against members TREB believed were violating its user agreement by posting sale numbers online "in an open and unrestricted fashion."
Like Pasalis, real estate company Zoocasa watched the TREB case intently and soon after being told data would be available, applied for access, but spokesperson Jannine Rane confirmed in an email on Wednesday that her company was also still waiting for the numbers.
Zoocasa was told TREB is working through a high volume of requests, she said.
TREB did not immediately respond to a request from The Canadian Press about how long it would take for the companies to get access, but it sent a letter to its members earlier in the week that said the feeds would be available on Tuesday and that members would be allowed to use the feeds to post data on their password-protected websites for clients.
Of the half dozen realtors The Canadian Press spoke with, HouseSigma Inc. was the only company who said they had been granted access to the feed and it came two days after its chief executive officer Joseph Zeng applied for it.
Just after he received access, Zeng said he hoped to post the data on his website within a few hours.
He suspected TREB was slow to release the numbers to him because the board has 50,000 members who are all eligible to request similar data.
"Yesterday when we talked to (TREB) they said they had 600 requests within three hours and they have to approve them one-by-one," said Zeng, noting that TREB estimated it would take four to five days to give him archived data from transactions prior to Sept. 2016, but it hoped it might be able to offer him more current data by the end of Wednesday.
The wait angered his clients.
"When we got the initial timeline from TREB we made the promise on our website that it will be published on (Tuesday) and just this morning we received an email (complaining)," he said.
"Our clients have been extremely frustrated."