December 12th - 2010

What does the CREA competition consent agreement mean to REALTORS®?

Now that an agreement has been reached between CREA and the Commissioner of Competition does that mean the public can list properties on the MLS® System? Not without a REALTOR® they can’t.

Now that an agreement has been reached between CREA and the Commissioner of Competition does that mean the public can list properties on the MLS® System? Not without a REALTOR® they can’t.

Several media reports about the Competition Bureau’s case left many people, including REALTORS®, confused over what the MLS® rule changes would mean. In a statement released about the agreement CREA President Georges Pahud says, “Some news stories have reported these amendments will open up MLS® Systems to members of the public. This is wrong. MLS®Systems remain member-to-member systems and property sellers must use a REALTOR® to list their property on an MLS®System.”

Also, REALTORS® do not have to accept a mere posting; they are free to choose whatever business model that they wish. REALTORs® who wish to offer mere posting services may not be discriminated against by Board or Association or CREA rules.

Additional information from CREA about the competition agreement is available in the Competition Bureau Information Zone on the CREA homepage of REALTOR Link®  at www.realtorlink.ca

Implications for Ontario REALTORS®
To help members understand how the agreement with the Competition Bureau relates to REBBA 2002 and its Regulations (including the REBBA Code of Ethics), the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) has developed the frequently asked questions, including:

Q: As the listing brokerage, if I provide a mere posting service on MLS® and do not provide any other services, am I obligated to verify the accuracy of the information in the listing?
A: Yes, the listing brokerage is obligated to verify the accuracy of the information before posting on MLS® and is responsible for its accuracy.

Q: Can I opt out of any of the requirements under REBBA 2002 or the Regulations?
A: No, REBBA 2002, including the Regulations, is provincial law and no one can opt out of a provincial statute or regulation.

Q: As a buyer representative, am I obligated to inform a buyer of properties that meet his/her criteria when the listing brokerage is not offering a commission or the seller is offering a commission lower than I expect?
A: Yes. As a registrant you are obligated to inform buyers of properties that meet their criteria regardless of the amount of commission or other remuneration, if any, being offered. See Section 19 of the Code of Ethics (Ontario Regulation 580/05).

Q: If a seller is not being represented by a brokerage, except for a mere posting on MLS®, and I, as a buyer’s representative, have an offer that I wish to present to the seller, how do I ensure the details of my client’s offer remain confidential in a situation where the seller obtains multiple offers on the property?
A: You can attempt to have the seller enter into an agreement regarding the confidentiality of the offer; however, the unrepresented seller is not obligated to agree. Please remember that REBBA 2002 and the Regulations do not govern the conduct or actions of non-registrants.

Q: As a buyer’s representative how will I know whether I can contact the seller directly?
A: Refer to the listing for clear direction and if there is any question, contact the listing brokerage directly and obtain written consent to contact the seller. See Section 7 of the Code of Ethics (Ontario Regulation 580/05).

Q: Where a listing broker merely posts a property for sale and my buyer wants to submit an offer to purchase, who is the deposit payable to?
A: It is negotiable between the buyer and seller. You will want to inform the buyer of RECO’s insurance program which provides consumer deposit protection when a registrant holds a deposit.

Q: In a mere posting situation am I required to get the permission of both sellers and buyers of a property before I can advertise the sale?
A: Registrants are required to obtain permission of both buyers and sellers before advertising a sale.

Q: If I have an agreement to merely post the property on MLS® that includes a payment to me of a flat fee and the seller at a later time, within the term of the agreement, decides they want me to provide other services on the same property, what remuneration arrangements can be made?
A: If a flat fee was charged for a mere posting, a registrant could negotiate an amendment to the listing agreement to provide further services for further flat fees, if agreed to by the seller.

Further questions about how the agreement relates to REBBA 2002 should be directed to RECO at asktheregistrar@reco.on.ca. The complete RECO FAQ document, which will be updated as additional questions arise, can be found on the RECO website at www.reco.on.ca

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For more information contact

Ontario Real Estate Association

Jean-Adrien Delicano

Manager, Media Relations

JeanAdrienD@orea.com

416-445-9910 ext. 246