Court decision on sold data access means more transparency for home buyers and sellers

By Penelope Graham, Zoocasa

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

A seven-year legal battle between the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and Canada’s Competition Tribunal has come to an end, ushering in a new era for Toronto real estate data access.

On August 23rd the Supreme Court of Canada stated it would not hear an appeal from TREB to keep past sold real estate data private, following rulings from both the Tribunal and the Federal Court of Appeal that required it be made available online.

This means TREB’s online brokerage members, such as Zoocasa, are now allowed to display the historical data for individual real estate listings to site users with password-protected accounts. This information includes a home’s original listing price and sale price, its 10-year sales history, and whether it has ever had a terminated listing. Previously, clients could only receive this information once they were under contract with a real estate agent, who could provide it to them over the phone, by fax, or in person.

The move is being widely hailed as a victory, both for those who work in the real estate industry and for prospective buyers and sellers’; but how will it change today’s real estate market?

A boon for Buyers

Perhaps the biggest benefit for buyers will be the improved transparency around home prices. While having access to the data is unlikely to prevent bidding wars, it will mean shoppers will have a better idea of what condos and houses for sale are truly worth before they put in an offer.

It will also decrease price lowballing, a strategy in which sellers list their homes for a much lower amount than they expect to receive. This piques the interest of buyers looking for a great deal, often leading to multiple-offer situations and hyper-inflated prices. It’s an especially common tactic in hot markets, such as on the Toronto or Vancouver MLS, and a constant source of frustration for buyers trying to find homes that are actually within their budgets.

Now, buyers will be able to see what comparable homes are selling for in the same neighbourhood, and whether their desired listing has been priced accurately.

Greater strategy for Sellers

This doesn’t mean sellers will receive the short end of the stick: they’ll now have more information than ever to inform their decision to list. For example, when it comes to the best time to sell their homes, they’ll no longer be playing a guessing game. Access to sales trends in their neighbourhood for comparable homes will shed light on the level of demand for their home, and what price they can realistically expect to receive for it.

A reduction in Re-listings

Greater market transparency is also likely to decrease the number of terminated listings and re-listed homes, often used to freshen up a listing that’s gone stale. Homes that have sat for too long on the market – especially in competitive neighbourhoods – can develop a stigma and be increasingly passed over by buyers. Terminating a listing involves pulling it off the market altogether and relisting it later with a new price and MLS number. This  leads buyers just entering the market into believing they’re new inventory. While there may not be any material issues with such properties, this tactic exposes unwitting buyers without raising red flags they could have otherwise investigated.

A win for all

Above all, increased access to information and data will benefit everyone in the real estate industry. Clients will be empowered to make informed decisions, which will make the experience more positive for real estate agents. And, while agents used to be the gatekeepers of such data, releasing it publicly doesn’t mean their services won’t be needed anymore.

“By sharing more information, we are able to make for a more transparent buying and selling process. Agents will provide value by interpreting price points, market trends and fluctuating data for their clients,” said Lauren Haw, Zoocasa’s broker of record.

“Zoocasa’s users are researchers and come to our site looking for relevant information to influence their home purchase – such as school boundaries and rental options. Past-sold data will help them make more informed decisions.”

Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor of, a leading real estate resource that uses full brokerage service and online tools to empower Canadians to buy or sell their home faster, easier, and more successfully.





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