Tag Archives: professional responsibilities
Jim Reid BA, MBA, Broker, ABR, ICI
Royal LePage – Your Community Realty
Richmond Hill, Ont.
In a career that already includes enormous professional responsibilities and personal marketing expenditures, I don’t need the government’s Competition Bureau becoming the spokesperson for one, two or three disgruntled businessmen in an industry with over 90,000 members across Canada or 32,000 members in the GTA.
As for TREB members, we pay for our association and the MLS system in order to help us serve our clients more effectively. It appears clear to me, and anyone else who is interested, that the MLS system belongs to the members who have entrusted the association to be stewards of the system. Thus, the members should be free to choose how the system will be designed and used. Also, members must respect the decisions of the members in this regard. The idea that one or even 10 members want a change to the system should not be forced upon all the members. In fact, some members may want to develop expensive applications for themselves that will reduce the competitiveness of the other members who don’t have large amounts of capital. Such applications of the MLS system should not be approved by TREB or forced upon the membership by the Competition Bureau. In fact the bureau would truly be favouring big business and thus reduce competitiveness.
There are several industries in Canada where corporate members have developed shared databases, many of which are not accessible to the public (car insurance, life insurance, oil and gas industry, mineral mining industry, medical industry, auto dealers, auctioneers). These industries have unequivocally merged into oligopolies with widespread price fixing. To compare the real estate industry to these would be grossly unfair and dishonest.
The lobbying power of a couple of real estate brokers with the Competition Bureau is capitalizing upon the diversity and independence of the front line real estate sales representatives. We have no mechanism in place to rally together and voice our common outrage at the manipulation and deceit being foisted upon us by Melanie Aitken of the Competition Bureau. Even the terms and phrases being used by her are reported in a legal jargon that has been designed by a partisan perspective in this matter. These are not the words of a consumer advocate. They are the words of a disgruntled Realtor and their lawyers.
I truly hope that TREB will be able to match their legal jargon blow by blow and eventually defeat this megalomaniac. I am not incorrect in assuming that 99 per cent of front-line Realtors would prefer to have the MLS system evolve in a manner approved by our membership and in a manner that will help us provide excellent services to our clients. Surgeons don’t teach their patient clients how to operate, and Realtors don’t need to try to make the public into knowledgeable unlicensed Realtors.
I sent a letter voicing my concerns to six cabinet members. The Prime Minister’s Office forwarded this letter to his Industry Minister, who then sent it on to the Competition Bureau. A junior bureau officer called me this morning in the hope he could appease me and reduce my concerns. He works for the commissioner heading the TREB investigation. His main comment was that the tribunal will be made up of independent individuals.
I asked for an independent enquiry by the ministers but they sent my enquiry to the commissioner. I was completely surprised by this behaviour and attitude in response to my letter.
The point I emphasized to the bureau’s officer is that they intend to regulate the establishment of expensive website offices that will certainly favour brokerages and teams of agents whilst making it too costly for independent contractors to compete. This will reduce competitiveness in the Internet media marketing channel.
The bureau did not appear to have thought through the full implications of their directive. In fact, their action will only help the discount brokers to reduce their costs and human services. The discount brokers will be given access to the database that the independent contractors have paid for through our membership fees. Also, our associations will have to increase their expenditures on maintenance, security, policing and arbitration in the future. There is also considerable risk as these new format brokerages fail and the databases are then open to data theft. The whole concept is foolish and not progressive from the context of the personalized real estate services that are the backbone of organized real estate in Canada.
I hope to retire in a couple of years and have significantly cut back on my new business generation activities. Believe me, I am not sending these missives for my own interests as the CB officer presumed. My intent is to encourage Realtors to protect their business model and to assert their rights to determine how their fees are spent.
If the MLS system is to be used or delivered in a modified format by the public or by special interest users, then these people should be on a “pay-as-you-go” basis and our MLS operating fees should be eliminated. The MLS should become a profit centre for us and our association, especially since we are personally liable for the accuracy of the data.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
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