Moron Listing Service

Okay, so it’s not beautiful. But it’s a house that comes with 4,000 square feet of land, two bedrooms, a fireplace and a garage. It’s not the greatest hood, but it’s in a major US city – Chicago. And it’s selling for a reasonable price – $10,000, or a third of its assessed value.

However, this post is not about the 1931-built bung. It’s about information.

We know this property was worth $189,000 in July of 2008, which means it has lost 95% of its value. We know the house next door is valued at $81,000, and the place across the street’s worth $90,000. We know every time it’s been listed, sold, or had the price changed. And we know how it is valued relative to not only every home for blocks and blocks around, but also historically compared to the area average.

We know this, and more, because when it comes to telling consumers about the one asset than means more to them than any other, Americans believe in freedom. Unlike here. Below is a history of the bungalow’s value, thanks to the web site Zillow.

Is there a correlation between good information and affordable prices? Maybe. Americans are privy to property details which realtors systematically and purposefully hide from Canadians. The only way most of us will ever discover what a house sold for last time, how long it was listed or re-listed, how many times the price was changed, escalations in property taxes or who handled the deal, is by begging a real estate agent. And even she cannot see what Zillow or Trulia reveals.

So, the average house in Canada sells for $361,516. The average in the US, with ten times the population and economic output, is $184,000 – 49% less. Of course, disclosure doesn’t account for all of the insane premium on this side of the border, but I have no doubt it’s a factor. Blind buyers can often make dumbass decisions.

My research reveals only one place in Canada where anything approaching Zillow-type info is made available, and where a real estate entrepreneur is battling – so far without success – to bring the model to the rest of the country, especially Ontario. So, if you are buying a house in, say, Halifax, here is what Viewpoint.ca will tell you about the sales history:

This renovated, 80-year-old house on a 6,000-square foot lot sold last month after 27 days on the market for 95% of the list price of $479,000. That’s all the real estate board would like you to know. But thanks to this site we also see the property was for sale for almost 300 days before that, was withdrawn and re-listed several times, and came to the market at the wrong price thanks to greedy sellers, who originally wanted $525,000. We also discover it took 323 days to sell it the time before, which suggests anybody buying this better get the price right.

Why isn’t Viewpoint operating in Ontario, Saskatchewan or BC, where poor investors stumble into deals with the scantiest of information?

I asked Bill McMullin that question. He’s the guy behind it. Here is his response:

It’s sad that the breadth and depth of information we make available is only related to Nova Scotia real estate.  Real estate consumers in the rest of the country are essentially ‘in the dark’ and not on equal footing with the professionals and institutions that will get their money/fees when a property transaction takes place.  As you know, the entire system is “permissive”, biased toward consumption, and we both know the cycle and eventual outcome under such scenarios.

Consumers are not morons when it comes to real estate. They can interpret and analyze real estate information, like sold prices and lot sizes, as well as any professional.  ViewPoint is popular because it gives consumers access to the same data and information that professionals have access to, putting them on equal footing.   Nova Scotia real estate consumers are not subject to the perils and costs of ‘information asymmetry’ because they can know and see what the agents know, for example.   I believe that the information imbalance in the rest of the country comes at a significant cost to consumers and great benefit to professionals and ‘real estate institutions’ across Canada. If consumers only have easy access to list prices but not the corresponding sold prices, and other important information such as days on market, price changes, cancellations, fallen sales and other such activities, what impression are they left with?  I think it’s best described as “irrational exuberance” or “ignorance is bliss”.

I believe I have more experience than anyone in Canada with fighting for access to public property data and listing data from real estate boards.  I have uncovered what I see as scandalous and collusive activities by and between institutions to prevent real estate consumers, the taxpayers, from getting access to data and information that enables them to make well-informed decisions respecting real estate.

McMullin has just finished testifying as the first witness in an action against the mighty Toronto Real Estate Board. The federal competition cop sued TREB for preventing its own members from having efficient access to their MLS data (and, of course, Viewpoint). The Competition Tribunal is expected to make a ruling early in 2013.

The outcome will be closely watched by real estate boards across Canada who profit from their efforts to keep you ignorant.

252 comments ↓

#1 Westcoaster on 11.21.12 at 7:21 pm

Hats off to Bill McMullin. It’s ridiculous that all this information isn’t readily available. Buying a house is the biggest financial transaction most people ever make, and they’re having to do it blindfolded.

#2 Brian on 11.21.12 at 7:28 pm

furrrst

#3 pathcontrolmonk on 11.21.12 at 7:33 pm

You can drive 5 mins across the Peace Arch crossing and buy a home in Blaine / Birch Bay for 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of a similar home in Whiterock. Go figure.

#4 Derek R on 11.21.12 at 7:35 pm

Goodness, Garth. People are going to get really confused if you start posting this early!

#5 daystar on 11.21.12 at 7:37 pm

Bravo, Garth. Pure journalism if I’ve ever read it, very well done.

#6 Derek R on 11.21.12 at 7:39 pm

Interesting post though. More power to Mr McMullin’s elbow. This is the sort of reform that we need.

#7 hangfire on 11.21.12 at 7:40 pm

” I have uncovered what I see as scandalous and collusive activities by and between institutions to prevent real estate consumers, the taxpayers, from getting access to data and information that enables them to make well-informed decisions respecting real estate.”

And they say that corruption has not become an institution in Canada? Who says that ? The very people who are the most corrupt, that’s who.

One reason that information is more available in the USA is that they have much more demanding electorate. Everything ‘public’ in the US is made on the basis of individuals coming together and voting on ‘initiatives’ and ‘referendum’ . The public in Canada is denied the opportunity to decide anything out the ‘once every 4 years ‘ gong show that excludes people from directing their own democracy and leaves ‘decisions’ to politicians who have another 4 years to lie, cheat and obfuscate without having to account for themselves, except at the next ‘gong show’.

Because Canadians have been denied deomocracy they have also been trained to think that they are defensless against the poor decisions of the political classes and the corrupt institutions that support them.

Bring in more individual accountabilty and allow citizens to make decisions and we’ll quickly see the entrenched, appointed, annointed and criminal ‘boards’, such as real estate boards burn under the light of public scrutiny.

#8 Zack on 11.21.12 at 7:43 pm

Thank you very much for this post. Bill, you’re the man! This is exactly how the real estate agents are pushing the buyers and of course the prices up. We were lucky that one independent real estate agent provided us with the background info for a house that we were interested in. It was on the market three times in the past year and a half with no success. There hasn’t been any sale in that area for more than 4 months! I want to stress the word INDEPENDENT, since the real estate who helped us didn’t work for us and he didn’t have any interest in pushing us to buy… By the way, after starting reading Garth’s blog, we gave up looking for a house. The prices are ridiculously high.

#9 Pt Bob on 11.21.12 at 7:52 pm

just saw 4 orcas on the 3 PM Coastal Celebration sailing from Island to TSW

#10 SM_YYC on 11.21.12 at 7:53 pm

Good Post Garth, I will look forward to what the judgement is. as we get closer to real estate slowdown, these kind of findings will come up more often.

#11 a prairie dawg on 11.21.12 at 7:54 pm

It’s alternatively cold, wet, humid, hot, and dry.

Who wouldn’t want to move to Canada.

#12 TurnerNation on 11.21.12 at 7:55 pm

Super early post!

#13 Nukester99 on 11.21.12 at 7:57 pm

Guess the results??? TREB is too powerful to fall and be forced to reveal the truth. The sheep are too valuable to not get shaved.

#14 house burden on 11.21.12 at 7:58 pm

Keep the sheeples in the dark!

Letting them grow in a pile of horse dunn

#15 robert on 11.21.12 at 7:59 pm

thank you for your ongoing educational blog.you are providing insight and thorough analysis as to how we use our money for shelter.you are much more valuable as an independent commentator than stuck in some political party.i am looking foward to your description of draining our rrsps with little tax liability.

#16 DogWalker on 11.21.12 at 8:00 pm

It is like going to an auction and only knowing the price if you have the winning bid. I would never attend an auction like that ever…

#17 Sebee on 11.21.12 at 8:01 pm

Amazing how little this is talked about in MSM. It is shocking and all I will say is imagine such practices in the financial markets – it’s unthinkable. Every stock history is a free click away. What is the purpose of the secrecy of Canadian RE except to deceive and make consumers make uninformed decisions?

#18 gladiator on 11.21.12 at 8:02 pm

It’s easier to fish in murky waters. TREB and other RE boards will try to keep the status quo for as long as possible. The only hope is that the competition cop will prevail and we’ll be able to be better informed.

Happy Thanksgiving to our neighbours to the South!

#19 claudius emperor on 11.21.12 at 8:05 pm

information is power….

#20 Dr. WAYNE on 11.21.12 at 8:07 pm

#1 Brian on 11.21.12 at 7:28 pm

furrrst

Brian … yes, you’re the first to admit you’re an a$$hole by undertaking to pen and misspell the word f..i..r..s..t.

#21 metal-nut#756 on 11.21.12 at 8:07 pm

Great refreshing article Garth. It’s rare to say this about a government official, but I will miss one of the head ladies at the Anti-Competition Bureau (or whatever the title of the org was). She’s the one that stood up on behalf of Canadian consumers and got this whole ball of wax started – questioning the information monopoly of the real estate board.

To play devil’s advocate, I understand there are costs associated with collecting and inputing data as well as the ongoing capital and operating costs of maintaining the IT infrastructure required to run MLS.ca ; however, when either a single organization or a collective (Remax, Royallepage, etc) collude to control what is pretty much the largest sum of asset values in an entire country, it does make sense that intervention and anti-monopoly regulations be applied.

If this effort is successful, it will hurt the real estate *cough* “professionals”, in the sense that it will likely reduce the number of new clients they gain – not because they are great “professionals”, but because currently only through a realtor can one beg and plead for far more details than are shown on public facing websites like mls.ca. But this argument is a moot point because monopolies should not exist, and that’s the bottom line.

If I were a realtor, between this anti-monopoly prosecution and the unquestionable one-way down slide in real estate values, to say nothing of already crashing sales numbers; it would be advisable to start training in other non-real estate careers… which may require far more than the 5 week course most took to become a “professional” (in marketing name only) realtor.

As a well educated Canadian citizen, fully capable of analyzing hoards of data, charts, statistics and trend projection reports to be granted access to ALL the historical data on every house in the country.

DATA – it wants to be free!

#22 Realtors in an all out PANIC! on 11.21.12 at 8:11 pm

IMO those who hate free markets are terrorists. Does that mean Realtors are terrorists? Yes IMO they are financial terrorists who IMO should be jailed and punished for their crimes against Canada and Canadians. Realtors HATE the free markets since they would be considered USELESS and they wouldn’t be able to mislead people into bidding wars or over bidding for a house or condo that no one wanted. Garth what can we do as blog dogs to tell The Competition Tribunal that we support an open system?

#23 Nemesis on 11.21.12 at 8:22 pm

Bravo!, OldPol. You have – as difficult as that undoubtedly was – surpassed yourself.

Neither markets or democracy survive for long in an asymmetric information universe.

Bravo.

#24 JustTryingToProtectEquity on 11.21.12 at 8:34 pm

We listed our house at $949K in June. As did another couple living in a very similar house in our neighborhood.
Both of us were taking offers on the same night. Our house sold for $975K. Unfortunately, they did not get an offer. They immediately reduced their asking price to $899K. It sold for $905K. And their real estate agent promptly put a sticker on their For Sale sign reading, “Sold for over asking”. It’s a game. People are getting fooled by it though. Many people are still drinking the koolaid. The simple fact is, Canadians are over extended. Many have taken out second mortgages and lines of credit. Many more have enormous credit card debts. It’s a ticking time bomb.

#25 T.O. Bubble Boy on 11.21.12 at 8:48 pm

Another Zillow property of interest in Chicago:
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/5046-S-Greenwood-Ave-Chicago-IL-60615/50904051_zpid/

Barack Obama’s house. 6200 sqft.
Now valued over $2M again, or about $343/sqft.

How about a $2M house in Toronto?

Here’s a house in Garth’s old hood (Leaside), half the size (3000sqft), standard 30ft lot, $2.2M ($733/sqft) :
http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=12513698&PidKey=1406950724

And, how about a $2.3M tear-down bungalow?
http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=11674491&PidKey=437148838

(what bubble?)

#26 Victor V on 11.21.12 at 8:57 pm

http://themashcanada.blogspot.ca/2012/11/and-it-went-for_16.html

$1,195,000 April 2012
$939,000 September 2012
$890,000 November 2012 [SOLD]

Multiple price drops and finally sells for 75% of original asking. Ouch.

#27 Helga on 11.21.12 at 9:03 pm

#20 Dr. Wayne

one can see you are a newcomer to this blog, because you do not get the joke about furrrst.

#28 Brian on 11.21.12 at 9:04 pm

#20 Dr. WAYNE on 11.21.12 at 8:07 pm

you’re the first to admit you’re an a$$hole by undertaking to pen and misspell the word f..i..r..s..t.

You’re a fool. I was clearly referring to the German “fürst,” with the implication being that attainment of the first comment bestows a certain kind of princely stature upon one. Of course, in the dash to be first I left out the umlaut – still, your ignorance of the German language is quite reprehensible and not “fürstly” in the least.

#29 Joe on 11.21.12 at 9:12 pm

Garth that is one of your best blog posts ever. I wish all Canadians would read it. Keep up the great detective work!

#30 Victor V on 11.21.12 at 9:13 pm

PRICE DROP #4 – 107 Marlborough Avenue – SUMMERHILL

http://themashcanada.blogspot.ca/2012/11/price-drop-4-107-marlborough-avenue.html

$1,839,000 May 2012
$1,799,999 May 2012 (price drop #1)
$1,739,900 July 2012 (price drop #2)
$1,689,000 October 2012 (price drop #3)
$1,639,000 November 2012 (price drop #4)

Another price drop coming soon?

#31 Herb on 11.21.12 at 9:31 pm

In Ontario, MPAC’s “AboutMyProperty” feature used to have the “Last Sale” price on the property reports it issued for requested properties. Not quite the same as Zillow, but at least one fact. Since I now am only a renter, I am no longer entitled to MPAC property reports, so I don’t know if they still do.

Which reminds me that I’ve been meaning to remind MPAC that renters pay property taxes too (their landlord’s) and, therefore, should be entitled to the same information as property owners. Haven’t gotten around to it, but it might be a promising windmill.

#32 Aleksey on 11.21.12 at 9:31 pm

That’s exactly my thoughts. How does MLS get away with it? Come on! It’s a 21st century and we live in Canada. This information MUST be public.

#33 Grim Reaper/Crypt Speculator on 11.21.12 at 9:37 pm

Dr Wanker has an orifice fixation.

Maybe Dr Ziggy Fraud has a diagnosis for the a$$hole ?

#34 Fodork on 11.21.12 at 9:41 pm

Lack of access to nformation is a hallmark of many industries in canada, not just real estate. Auto insurance is an example where insurwnce companies use hidden data to their advantage. I believe the problem is that canadians do not demand infrmation like americans do. My hypothesis is that most of them are immigrants and what they get in canada is already so much better than what have been used to that their expectations are much lower.

#35 pbrasseur on 11.21.12 at 9:45 pm

Great post Garth, very informative. I’d say this is journalism at its best.

#36 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.21.12 at 9:53 pm

Garth you certainly do know how to push peoples buttons. Don’t know exactly what you are trying to accomplish but it does appear to me you have a bigger hate on for REALTORS that Melanie Aitken ever did.

And what of Zillow or any other wanna-be real estate MLS? Has it really changed the practice and manner of buying and selling real estate in the US? Nope.

I expect sooner than later CREA will share that data with the likes of Viewpoint.ca and anyone else who is prepared to pay the price. What, you think it should be free? Do you have any idea how much the assembly and maintenance of that information has cost over the years?

But what you need to consider is it’s not just CREA but it’s more than 100 member regional real estate boards representing over 100,000 REALTORS across the country. Too many some say, but that’s competition for ya. There is already dissention amongst the ranks as more and more boards debate the merits of staying with CREA. Gaining a consensus amongst REALTORS is like herding cats. I see pubic induced changes coming that will thwart their very intent. And then where will that dependable database of historical real estate data be?

But I do advocate the sharing of that information just as I do “mere” postings on MLS as they are today and further to that Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreements or BRAs (Buyer Representation Agreements) as they’re known in your neck of the woods.

Bring it all on I say fast a furious. It’s not what you don’t know that will hurt you nearly so much as that which you don’t know you don’t know. You’ll get it… all in due time.

Seriously, it’s not about the internet. It’s not about fancy two page colour ads. It’s not about promotional websites. It’s certainly not about driving customers around in a fancy car. Nor is it about planting a for sale sign in the front lawn or even placing a “mere” posting on MLS. Any fool can do all that and many will do just that.

#37 Smoking Man on 11.21.12 at 9:53 pm

Big woop.

Every major industry in Canada is fixed.

Insurance
Airlines
Real estate
Banks
Telecom
Energy
Health care
Government

The trick is to be a vendor to one of those huge profit centers. Not hard

And not a dude that trades his labour for fixed wages

Works for me very profitable

#38 TJ on 11.21.12 at 9:58 pm

Great post tonight Garth. Its amazing how 70%+ of the population is perfectly okay basing their offer on a manipulated sample chosen by those who benefit from seeing the highest price possible. Just clueless, and deserving of the recourse mortgages that will ruin them.

21-metal nut: Great post too. Indeed the “professional” house sellers will soon be back to selling their bodies or used cars like they had to prior to the bubble. I hope they don’t qualify for unemployment insurance.

#39 X on 11.21.12 at 9:58 pm

But wait they have the Home Price Index to tell us how our Re market is doing. LOL. I have been told that 3.5% on the index is equal to 0 growth.

After reading of how investors in the Toronto Trump towers were misled by RE marketers and the pending lawsuits, makes me wonder about lawsuits to come towards some realtors/boards in regards to (you did a previous post on these calculated investments) misleading the public.

The gov’t does get more tax dollars based on higher assessed RE values, done by mpac, supported by current sale prices, however at a point it actually hurts the economy too.

#40 Waterloo Resident on 11.21.12 at 10:03 pm

HERE’S A WAY TO GET AROUND GLOBE-AND-MAILS PAY-FOR-VIEWING-CONTENT SYSTEM:

1 – Open up a ‘FireFox’ browser window (I used Firefox 3.6.13, but any recent version works)

2 – in the Menu, click ‘Tools’ then click ‘Start Private Browsing’.

3 – in the box that pops up, click the button named ; ‘Start Private Browsing’

4 – enter the website http://www.globeandmail.com and that’s it, now you can browse as MUCH AS YOU WANT, and you don’t have to pay a penny !

#41 Freedom First on 11.21.12 at 10:06 pm

Great eye-opening post Garth!

Yes. Most unfortunately, if you live in Canada, the only “Consumer Protection’ you can find for anything, is to get off your chair right now, go to the nearest mirror, and have a good long look. That person is responsible for you. When it comes to doing business with someone, be educated or be screwed. Keep your expectations of business people extremely low. There is good honest people in every industry, it’s just that they all look the same, like TNL@TB and anyone working for CREA, like the media, etc:)

#42 Realtors in an all out PANIC! on 11.21.12 at 10:06 pm

Realtor Devil’s Advocate #36 POSTINGV in a PANIC. You HATE the free and open markets and that IMO makes you a financial terrorist. Why do you HATE the free and OPEN market? It’s going to be a NASTY housing crash realtors , A NASTY crash!

Canadians HATE realtors who HATE the FREE and OPEN markets.

#43 NoOneOfConsequence on 11.21.12 at 10:19 pm

How can anyone still be surprised at this kid of behaviour exists?
Why would they give the info? They don’t have to under the law. They spent the $$$$$$ on the infrastructure to collect the data. They paid the people for data entry and to interpret the data. AND…explain to me why this information should be public? AFAIAC it’s nobody’s business how much I sold my house for…other than the guy who’s buying.

Sorry Garth…disagree with you on this one.

You can’t expect private industry to disclose info critical to their financial success.

This information doesn’t become public until it’s collected by a taxpayer funded organization. Then we all have access to the info from that point until it’s no longer managed by tax funded org.

Housing is a product. Food is a product too. By extension….Can we expect to go to Loblaws for detailed food prices and data?

#44 Tron on 11.21.12 at 10:20 pm

Here in BC it’s getting tough for agents and I suspect many are starting to get hungry. As a consumer there is nothing stopping you to ask the agent for whatever information you want on a property. If they are hungry enough they will do what they can to get you what your asking for. If they don’t then let them know you’re not interested in the listing.

When times are good for them they won’t need your business; in these tough times they’ll probably do anything.

#45 Bobby on 11.21.12 at 10:20 pm

Just bought a condo here in Victoria a short while ago. The information is available, you just have to ask the realtor for it. I got everything I needed, sales history, days on market. Also a list of all condos that sold in the area in the preceding four months, asking and selling prices.
The agent didn’t offer up the info, I had to specifically ask for it. It’s there, but many consumers don’t think to ask.
And…..when you see it, you can appreciate why the realty boards want to keep it confidential. It essentially lessens the need for a realtor.
Good to see change is coming.

#46 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.21.12 at 10:23 pm

Zestimates? $/sqft? Ya the real estate neophytes are going to have a heyday with that one. LOL. And a Zestimate price range latitude of more than 50% either way? Ya right, that’s informative.

What is the predominant use of Zillow in the US? Check it out. REALTORS using it as a lead capture tool.

Please, please, please oh pleeeeaase let them have their way and give us a Zillow.ca

#47 25Alpha on 11.21.12 at 10:25 pm

“And it’s selling for a reasonable price – $10,000, or a third of its assessed value.”

Probably has a big lien against it from a bank. The 10k is just to sucker them in.

#48 autobldr on 11.21.12 at 10:25 pm

Great post Garth. My wife and I have been looking at US properties recently in preparation for retirement. It is amazing how much info is available not only on the property and its history, but the neighbourhood stats like crime rates, demographics and income levels. Looking forward to hearing the decision next year on this case.

#49 Canadian Watchdog on 11.21.12 at 10:27 pm

Excellent post Garth.

Here’s a little diagram of why TREB’s 2012 stats have been nothing but fudged numbers to pump media headlines and, the reason why 2013 stats are heading off a cliff.

I sure hope it wasn’t that prick Harper and his realtor cronies who had Melanie Aitken removed as commissioner of the Competition Bureau. Link She’s the woman who initiated the lawsuit and should be given credit for standing up for home buyers. She knows what’s going on. Perhaps too much.

Unfortunately, this will not be easy as other forces will make sure this data remains private. We can blog all we want. Nothing changes until people stand up and take action.

#50 Jordy on 11.21.12 at 10:27 pm

It is outrageous that there isn’t easy access to this information. Obvious market manipulation. Excellent topic Garth.

#51 Jim on 11.21.12 at 10:33 pm

“Just bought a condo here in Victoria a short while ago. The information is available, you just have to ask the realtor for it.”

That’s exactly the problem. Trulia and Zillow give it to you for free. The amount of information on there is staggering, and you can check out stats on crime and other important aspects of a neighbourhood.

Devil’s Advocate, from the fact that Realtors use Zillow for their own purposes, it does not follow that home buyers cannot find it useful for theirs.

#52 NoOneOfConsequence on 11.21.12 at 10:33 pm

In my vision of “FREE and OPEN” markets, I don’t have to disclose every minute detail to any Tom, Dick or Harry who asks.
To me, FREE = no bureaucratic red tape and no government engaging in any business endeavour whatsoever.
OPEN = no barriers to engaging in business and competition. No collusion.

No where in “free and open” do I see a place to require detailed, incremental sales cycle information to everyone at any time.
To think otherwise is preposterous.

#53 Karie on 11.21.12 at 10:34 pm

It’s the realtors and the sellers that don’t want you to know that info plus flippers, of course. If people find out that you made something like $150,000 by buying a brand new house in the first stage and selling it shortly after all the homes by that builder were done, they will be bitter and find that to be unfair.

It is only a matter of time before the info is made public.

I am really shocked that a house is Chicago is worth less than what most people pay for a car. That is very very scary.

From yesterday – Garth, I’ve been following you since 1997 on and off and it seems you did all your buying and selling of real estate in the ’80’s. After that, you’ve seemed to be pro-renting to me.

Trish – I think you’re going to be fine. Just by reading financial blogs and trying to figure out your future by learning from past mistakes, I’m sure you’ll work things out. We actually bought our first house after our home inspector said the house was poorly built! We even made money on it luckily!
I don’t think granite and renovated bathrooms is a deal breaker but people’s expectations are high in my area and without it people might find my 11 year old house dated as this is what most people seem to have in my ‘hood. I’m afraid to remodel because if I install granite in a few years that will be so 2012! Who can keep up with the trends and expectations of fickle buyers instead of saving for retirement or whatever, you’ll just constantly be spending on renovations!

For the poster who recommended signing a 3 year lease, I would not want to be locked into that for 3 years. What if you want to move or get a job transfer, the landlord is a jerk, or he or she may be nice now but he could get married or divorced and they could also sell the place. Part of the advantages of renting I thought was to be more mobile.

#54 JL on 11.21.12 at 10:35 pm

Whenever I am interested in a property I go and pull the tax assessments for as far back as they have in the archive. It gives a great overview of sales prices, buildings and land as well as how the property and similar properties have been assessed. It’s not perfect but immediately reminds of why I would never pay even close to list price in a falling market and how ridiculous the assessment system is also….

#55 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.21.12 at 10:46 pm

#51Jim on 11.21.12 at 10:33 pm

Devil’s Advocate, from the fact that Realtors use Zillow for their own purposes, it does not follow that home buyers cannot find it useful for theirs.

I’m sure they’ll accept your advertising dollars too.

#56 Fartweezel on 11.21.12 at 10:46 pm

Great post! And hats off to Bill McMullin!

#57 Paul on 11.21.12 at 10:50 pm

Great post Garth. Of course realtors don’t want us to have information… it gives them more ammunition to justify their commission.

What little respect I ever had for Realtors is long gone. I remember watching Property Virgins show and the potential buyers were complaining the properties being showed were above their capital budget. The host said “don’t worry about the price and long mortgage, make your decision based on monthly payments”. If that isn’t a reason to be the best candidate for sleaze occupation over used car salesmen, I don’t know what is.

Paul

#58 waiting on 11.21.12 at 10:50 pm

I too have found the dismal lack of real estate information frustrating. If you have the patience and invest some time, you can find out a lot just by googling the address and following older posts. If a place has been listed a couple of times in the past year or two, you’ll see numerable references to it on many realtors sites plus a lot of realtors post “just sold” information on their blogs. It’s ok for one or two properties, but too time consuming to compare much more.

#59 Bottoms_Up on 11.21.12 at 10:56 pm

#31 Herb on 11.21.12 at 9:31 pm
————————————–
Yes, I believe you can get the last sold price if within the past 5 years. You have to write to them if you want details prior to that. MPAC is useful therefore for tracking recent activity in your own neighbourhood!

#60 GTA Engineer on 11.21.12 at 10:56 pm

#20 Dr. WAYNE on 11.21.12 at 8:07 pm
#1 Brian on 11.21.12 at 7:28 pm

furrrst

Brian … yes, you’re the first to admit you’re an a$$hole by undertaking to pen and misspell the word f..i..r..s..t.
————————

Doctor, remember ‘feed a cold, starve a fever’. Same goes with trolls. They’re a fever and need to be starved. Paying attention to them just encourages them.

I also partially blame Garth, who has several times said he wouldn’t tolerate it, so instead of deleting those posts he just allows them. I think he gets a kick out of watching the fireworks ;)

#61 Ford Prefect on 11.21.12 at 11:01 pm

In B.C., following the “rule of thumb” derived from sites such as Vancouver Price Drop and Whispers at the Edge of the Rainforest, you can estimate the value of a property you are interested in by looking up the assessed value and deducting, at present, around 30%. This approach is far from perfect but much better than relying on realtor provided information.

This rule seems to apply here, in Courtenay, B.C. Yesterday on Craig’s List I located several properties asking almost 10% below assessment and I expect that an offer of up to 30% below would be “in the ballpark”. Anything higher and the buyer will have serious post purchase regrets in the near future as the ridiculous prices that have prevailed here continue to plummet.

Another approach is to look at real estate prices versus income. The median family income in this area is around $50k. Using the 3x rule you should not be paying more than $150k for an ordinary home. Of course at present these two rules lead to conflicts because the assessed value is based on recent grossly inflated sales prices but at least they give some idea of what is a “sensible price”.

#62 buy hi on 11.21.12 at 11:03 pm

It is real estate agents that built the data system – they own it and can do with it what they want.

Just because you have some data on your computer that others deem valuable, why should those others just get to take it from you because they are jealous of that data?

You don’t have a good answer to that I bet!

Start building your own database and do with it what you want. Some people are so jealous of other’s hard work.

I think the issue is data-sharing for the mutual benefit of enlightened consumers, not data-stealing. — Garth

#63 Snowboid on 11.21.12 at 11:06 pm

When we first starting looking at purchasing US real estate we were blown away by the amount of information available to us on the web.

Sales history, re-listing and price reductions, current and historical tax data, current deed, comparables – it’s all there and only a mouse-click away.

A couple of short searches and we had all the information needed as Canadian buyers such as tax and estate implications.

Then the process of offer to purchase all the way through to close of escrow was done on the web using DocuSign. We signed one document with a notary witnessing, cost $ 11.50 US.

We only saw the agent when first looking at the home, inspection, and passing on the keys.

The closing costs (no lawyers required in Arizona) were $ 240 US and $ 20 US for the deed. Seller paid for the title insurance.

A few weeks later we received a 20% refund on our buyers’ agency commission share.

In no uncertain terms, compared to the US information and process, real estate in BC is a total scam.

#64 Lookoutbelow on 11.21.12 at 11:15 pm

Great post, Garth. As a cynical old man, you quickly realize that the deck is stacked against you most of the time. All the way from the price of a jug of milk to buying a house. Kudos to Bill for taking a stand and trying to even the playing field.

Another topic that continuously bothers me is the commission structure and how the commission is paid out to the Listing and Selling agents and more importantly the total commission amount, (7% on the first $100,000 and 2.5% on the remainder of the selling price in the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board) is paid by the Seller.

The Buyer’s agent has no financial incentive to get the buyer the best price, he is only interested in closing the sale so he can get paid. To hell with what the Buyer actually paid.

A simple solution would be that the Seller and Buyer each pay their own agent for their professional services.

Of course the real estate cartel controls all this and in the case of Greater Vancouver, does not even discourage the use of the same agent by the buyer and seller. Kinda like the same Lawyer for defense and prosecution!

#65 Kilt on 11.21.12 at 11:18 pm

Excellent post.

Kilt.

#66 Sean on 11.21.12 at 11:23 pm

#62 Buy Hi
I think that there are other issues involved here. I last used a real estate agent to rent a condominium and I asked specifically about how long the unit had been on the market, and what it was listed at earlier. The realtor did not disclose that the landlord had been trying to rent it for almost half a year.

With the information available, even at a cost to the public, we could more properly bargain.

#67 Party Perfect on 11.21.12 at 11:25 pm

Garth, could you share all your stock and real estate purchases that you’ve made for the past five years with us? All the details, please.

No? You expect the real estate industry to hand over their info for free. Man up, dude. Set the example.

Boy, sure is hard to spot the realtors posting today, isn’t it? BTW, there is nothing more transparent than the financial securities markets. — Garth

#68 wes coast on 11.21.12 at 11:28 pm

Not to be the devil’s advocate here – but – Zillow and all its information didn’t stop the US housing market implosion. I think it proves that the lay person – even if armed with data – doesn’t make decisions like a professional; as Garth has cited numerous times – most are playing by emotion which pros don’t do. That said, the data should still be public domain. The fact that my neighbour’s house closing price directly affects my home’s value is enough evidence that market participants deserve access to accurate market data. I wouldn’t sell it as a cure for housing bubbles, but it would raise the chances of better decision making and that should be enough reason to make it public.

#69 Jon B on 11.21.12 at 11:29 pm

Just don’t use the services of Realtors. Sell privately and get a lawyer to do all of the heavy lifting.

#70 Tim on 11.21.12 at 11:35 pm

“I have uncovered what I see as scandalous and collusive activities by and between institutions to prevent real estate consumers, the taxpayers, from getting access to data and information that enables them to make well-informed decisions -…”

Kind of like the sham Stephen Harper is running…

#71 Andrew on 11.21.12 at 11:42 pm

Isn’t this some kind of Anti-trust issue?

If the information that the nation’s real estate industry collects and shares with each gives them some sort of market monopoly is that not illegal?

Well if they won’t do it why don’t we? So, I have to ask the obvious question:

What is the source of Mr. McMillan’s information and how can we replicate this for the rest of the country?

#72 new canadian on 11.21.12 at 11:43 pm

#37 Smoking Man
Canada is a CARTEL country, every industry you see some sort of cartel formation. Prices are fixed, no competition, just milk the consumers. The most dangerous sector is media which is also closed cartel. Media is working great to create an illusion that Canada is doing great.

#73 Debtfree on 11.21.12 at 11:47 pm

Remax is not just all about selling real estate . Some of the money is going into a contest to kill Wolves in northern B.C . See Rich Peterson in Vancouver sun article remax agent in fort St. John . Keep a barf bag handy .

#74 Patiently Waiting on 11.21.12 at 11:51 pm

As far as making MLS data public. I agree there is so much data that the general public is absolutely blind to, that would be amazingly helpful when buying or selling a home. I have regularly provided a lot of this type valuable data here on Garth’s website to help out some the of the blog dawgs. I have even contemplated starting just such a website to offer the general public this type of data. However, let’s face it, you are dealing with a multi-billion dollar commission monopoly. They are going to hire the best lawyers and lobbyists that money can buy to keep things the way that they are. They will make it very difficult for anyone to make a financial go of it if they try and rock the billion dollar commission boat . . . I wish it weren’t so but you have to realistic . . . The removal of Melanie Aiken from the Competition Bureau is just a sign of how much influence the real estate industry has . . . Unfortunately I don’t expect any meaningful change anytime soon . . .

pw

#75 squidly77 on 11.22.12 at 12:03 am

Realtors are scared, or should I say petrified by the likes of the website owner of viewpoint. They know that their communist like control of vital real estate information (disinformation ?) is the one and only reason that buyers employ them, without that control mechanism realtors would be as useless as a cigarette when no light is available.

Used house salesman would become instantly redundant and their extortion like fees would be laughed and mocked should they lose control of statistical information that they so closely guard.

This may happen sooner than they think as zoocasa.com has reported zillow like information in the past, has been shut down by you know who, re-started up and shut down again.

The realtors are fighting a fight that they are destined to lose.

#76 Devore on 11.22.12 at 12:06 am

#36 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate

I expect sooner than later CREA will share that data with the likes of Viewpoint.ca and anyone else who is prepared to pay the price. What, you think it should be free? Do you have any idea how much the assembly and maintenance of that information has cost over the years?

Just more vapid stupidity from DA. No one said they expect this for free. Zillow pays for its data like realtors do.

Access to information changes the game. You can claim nothing is different, but it is. Obviously since Zillow still exists and is profitable is proof enough users find its information valuable to monetize.

Any transaction where one party is missing critical information (like previous list and sale prices, true days on market, offers falling through) means they have much less bargaining power. There is no technical, practical, legal or financial reason to withhold information on properties and listings from third parties. And if indeed Zillow didn’t change anything in the US, then what is CREA afraid of? Sounds like a great opportunity to milk a few bucks from the stupid Zillow people who add no value to the real estate transaction, right?

#77 squidly77 on 11.22.12 at 12:08 am

Who would ever hire someone that has or had 10 years experience as a realtor on their resume ? Not me.

Would you ?

#78 Scalgary on 11.22.12 at 12:09 am

Great post Garth!

Wow…!such a crooks…!!!

Looking forward to year 2013…

#79 Not 1st on 11.22.12 at 12:13 am

I cant be bothered to worry about the canadian market these days. Its much more interesting to watch absolute mathematics re-asserting itself in the good ol U.S.A. Fun times!

#80 Realtors in an all out PANIC! on 11.22.12 at 12:18 am

Blog dogs email your local media about MLS and get people talking about it to put pressure on The Competition Tribunal to make it a right for MLS to be free and open . I emailed thestar about this topic and mentioned Garths blog and told them to look into this subject matter. Together we will bring down this closed MLS system

#81 Wally Wingnut on 11.22.12 at 12:21 am

Westwind Condo development on Carrington in West Kelowna BC has erected a sign more than 50% off. The development has sat mostly vacant since completion several years ago. It must suck to be an owner who bought there at full blown exaggerated retail a few years ago to see the lower prices for unsold units. But they must be sold to share in the strata expenses.
Welcome to the Kelowna and area RE market… NOT!

#82 Devore on 11.22.12 at 12:23 am

#43 NoOneOfConsequence

You can’t expect private industry to disclose info critical to their financial success.

This information doesn’t become public until it’s collected by a taxpayer funded organization. Then we all have access to the info from that point until it’s no longer managed by tax funded org.

More realtor(tm)(r) misdirection, but much more subtle than DA can manage.

Zillow is part of the “industry”. This is not public information. Zillow’s current business plan is make most information available for free. In the future they might require a sign on account, or a fee or subscription to access some information.

At issue is CREA’s incredible short-sightedness in this matter. People these days go to the internet to exhaustively research whatever they fancy to buy before they even set foot in the store. Xbox vs PS3. Samsung vs Sony. Toyota vs Mazda. Australia vs Mediterranean. Gold’s vs GoodLife. Real estate is no different. Being able to do this gives the buyer confidence. Most people want to be involved. Not to be a slave to their realtor’s whims to divulge information piecemeal as he sees fit.

#83 Grim Reaper/Crypt Speculator on 11.22.12 at 12:32 am

We live in Canada..we are different….besides “We Are CanaDUHian”….and teams that will never win the Stanley Coupe’……

We have the cherished motto …11th poutine commie-manned-ment ……”Hi, I am with the Government we are here to help you”.

WTF could possibly go WroOng … SVP ya toqueheads?

#84 squidly77 on 11.22.12 at 12:44 am

http://www.zoocasa.com/en/zoopraisal#

They keep trying to help.

#85 ontario2012 on 11.22.12 at 12:48 am

It is really appaling the sales history as well as other information is not available without having to dig it from real estate agents.
As far as I know all this info is from MPAC which is a crown corporation so essentially it is supported from taxpayers money.
They are distributing this info to private companies which in turn sells it back to municipalities charging them a lot of $. Shouldn’t this data be available free of charge to anyone?

#86 Investx on 11.22.12 at 12:49 am

Great post!

And realtors wonder why they’re industry and profession are considered scum by so many.

#87 Esmerlda Fitzmonster on 11.22.12 at 12:52 am

TREB: We thank you in a gracious and polite Canadian fashion for bringing this “blog” to our attention. We will take the aforementioned information provided under consideration and may consider placing it under review and perhaps may consider appointing a review panel to engender a purposeful and thorough review that reflects the position of all stakeholders and we may get back to you in six years or so. thanks again
TREB of Canada

#88 Picasso on 11.22.12 at 12:52 am

In the U.S. they have the same information when buying a vehicle. It’s all there right from new.

#89 Someone from TO on 11.22.12 at 12:53 am

Just curious.
How did this work before internet and mls.ca?
How did agents share info?

#90 squidly77 on 11.22.12 at 12:56 am

SHORTLY before Lynn Sugarman of Teaneck, N.J., bought her summer home in Lake George, N.Y., two years ago, a routine inspection revealed it had elevated levels of radon, a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. So she called a radon measurement and mitigation technician to find the source.

DETECTION Using devices like the Geiger counter and the radiation detection instrument Stanley Liebert measures the radiation and radon emanating from granite like that in Lynn Sugarman’s kitchen counters.

“He went from room to room,” said Dr. Sugarman, a pediatrician. But he stopped in his tracks in the kitchen, which had richly grained cream, brown and burgundy granite countertops. His Geiger counter indicated that the granite was emitting radiation at levels 10 times higher than those he had measured elsewhere in the house.

“My first thought was, my pregnant daughter was coming for the weekend,” Dr. Sugarman said. When the technician told her to keep her daughter several feet from the countertops just to be safe, she said, “I had them ripped out that very day,” and sent to the state Department of Health for analysis. The granite, it turned out, contained high levels of uranium, which is not only radioactive but releases radon gas as it decays. “The health risk to me and my family http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/garden/24granite.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

If My kids were still young, the granite counter tops would go. Like right now.

#91 EJ on 11.22.12 at 12:56 am

If they want this industry to be considered a “market”, then they have to play by market rules, which means fair information disclosure to all.

At the very least, the local government (you know, the ones collecting all that land-transfer and property tax?) should be providing the sales dates, prices, and names. They obviously don’t carry listing data, but I should be able to see if the place I’m looking to buy has changed hands six times in six months, ramping up 10% each time, and the same buyer/seller involved each time.

Hiding this kind of information only serves to defraud the buyers. Take a look at who wants this information hidden.

#92 Seriously? on 11.22.12 at 12:58 am

The fix is in.

The entire model is based upon a never ending inflation of goods and services.

The machine is working over-time to keep all of the plates in the air.

The truth is created minute by minute.

If you are tired of this reality, grow a set and create a different truth.

All it will cost you is all that you believe.

Beliefs are just propaganda.

Burn M’fricker, burn.

Seriously.

#93 squidly77 on 11.22.12 at 1:01 am

And by the way, the granite counter top controversy has been completely hushed up.

#94 Soylent Green is People on 11.22.12 at 1:03 am

Bhaha ahahhahahahahh

Guess you just got more unpopular gt

Lololololo

#95 Jay_Huhman on 11.22.12 at 1:10 am

60426 is the zip code for Harvey, IL which is a poor suburb of Chicago. Harvey sure is part of greater Chicago though. This example is probably in foreclosure and might be stripped.

Most of Zillow’s historical information comes from public records not the MLS. Can’t Canadians look online to see what property changed hands for over the past twenty years or so?

#96 GX on 11.22.12 at 1:19 am

Real estate agent here. 1.5 yrs northern Alberta. I volunteer days on market and mine the data for my buyers, but some of my sellers have unrealistic numbers in their minds, do the best I can with them.

It truly boils down to information asymmetry. Hell I’d love to write myself a Perscription for some pretty wild recreational drugs, but I’m not a doctor. I diagnose all my symptoms on google so therefore I must be an expert so please allow me access to the pharmacy. No?

Oh and I played an airplane simulator on the computer and flew in a couple of airplanes before, so I should be able to fly my own plane then without a license, right?

And, I fixed the cup holder in my car so I’m going to open my own car repair shop too.

Just because you have access to the info doesn’t mean you know what to do with it. Fire your agent if their not giving you all the information you need to make the biggest transaction of your life. I am successful in my tiny market because all the other agents are greedy dinosaurs. Zillow didn’t kill the brokerage system in the states, but it changes how business is done. Don’t hate all agents, I work hard for my clients and earn an honest living.

#97 Island Don on 11.22.12 at 1:25 am

Sebee on 11.21.12 at 8:01 pm

“Amazing how little this is talked about in MSM. It is shocking and all I will say is imagine such practices in the financial markets.”

The realtors have been paying the MSM’s bills by providing advertising revenue. If only the M$M would provide quality investigative journalism in every article, I would pay to read it. If not no thanks.

How’s that for a business model, quality.

Yah, I know I’m dreaming.

#98 Realist on 11.22.12 at 1:27 am

>>The average in the US, with ten times the population and economic output

Neither the total population, nor the total GDP, has any bearing on house prices. Prices in the US are lower than in Canada primarily because the Canadian economy hasn’t slumped as much since 2008. This is because commodity prices have been high and Canada is mainly a primary producer (particularly of oil and food).

Please stop trying to sell people financial advice until you at least get the basics under your belt.

#99 Hoof - Hearted on 11.22.12 at 1:30 am

Wait till BC Assessment mails out the ASSESS-MENTS for 2013 in about 6 weeks.

Then we’ll have a good term of reference for LotusLand /Ham- ville delusions.

#100 stage1dave on 11.22.12 at 1:31 am

Now I’m wondering if I can charge $80/hr to paint cars in the Windy City…hahaha

Think this is the most important post yet…consumers need this information to make informed decisions.

Go Bill!

#101 Fires in the GTA as seller panic! on 11.22.12 at 1:38 am

scspicious Fire guts home in Brampton due to homeowner on the brink of going bankrupt looking for a way out of the housing crash?

#102 Shiny on 11.22.12 at 1:41 am

Luv it! Way to dig in the dirt G-man! Good old style JOURALISM!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8D4LG4obZI

#103 tedfiftyfour on 11.22.12 at 1:46 am

As far as I know all this info is from MPAC

NOT CORRECT. the information that Realtors collect belongs to the Realtors.

#104 Island Don on 11.22.12 at 1:47 am

#77 squidly77 on 11.22.12 at 12:08 am

Who would ever hire someone that has or had 10 years experience as a realtor on their resume ? Not me.

Would you ?

*******************
Nope! unless I need a sneaky, misleading, self absorbed “professional” liar.

#105 SilverMeridian on 11.22.12 at 1:56 am

Here is my personal experience. Frustrated with the absolute lack of RE stats for Greater Ottawa area I recently contacted Janet Lemoine, who is an MLS Statistics Coordinator with The Canadian Real Estate Association, asking where can I find at least some kind of RE information for Ottawa, such as number of units sold in each category, active inventory, etc. I’ve got a reply from her rather quickly; she let me know that the information in question was available for sale, but even before we got down to discussing pricing, she had to inform me about the following, and I quote: “Please note that our data cannot be published or redistributed. It can however be used for analysis purposed or to generate charts and graphs as long as the actual data is not displayed and The Canadian Real Estate Association is sourced.” As far I am concerned, the situation is completely insane, not only Canadian RE Association hides actual sales data for certain markets, in my case Greater Ottawa, they also trying to sell it to you! On top of that, even if you choose to pay for the information, you can’t even discuss it with anybody, apparently so they could sell it to another poor soul, and continue to fool the rest of the homebuyers who is trusting their Real Estate agents too much!! Isn’t it buying RE in Canada fun, almost as much fun as trying to catch a fish in the murky water with your bare hands? You don’t know what are you fishing for, does it make any sense, and in some cases, you can actually end up being somebody’s dinner even before you catch something for your own dinner!

#106 NorthOf49 on 11.22.12 at 1:58 am

#31 Herb – The new MPAC “AboutMyProperty” allows members (ie. on the tax roll) to view the sale price of any home within the last five years. The wife and I used it this week to look at the final sale prices of homes that sold in our neighbourhood this summer. I was surprised to see quite a few homes selling for a lott below their original asking prices. eg. listing price of $499,900 sells for $420,000. AboutMyProperty is not 100% accurate though, we noticed a few properties reporting that they had not sold in the last 5 years, when in fact they had. Not sure what the problem there is. The most surprising find though, is that current houses for sale in our neighbourhood are still being listed very high in comparison to their neighbour’s sold price, and these houses have been sitting for months with no offers. So either the sellers are not being informed about what houses are actually selling for in our hood, or these sellers are much too emotionally attached to the perceived “value” of their homes. Or, they’re just plain greedy. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was one or a combination of any of these factors.

#107 Buy? Curious? on 11.22.12 at 2:17 am

Garth, I’m amazed that the monopoly in real estate has gone on for so long and no one has done anything about it. Though, it’s not like any politician would do anything about it.

Speaking of politicians, did you see the other McGuinty, Energy Minister, resign? Over a comment about how some people should “go back to Alberta”, c’mon!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Olf3Ryr6jrw

#108 Drac on 11.22.12 at 2:25 am

If you want information on a property in BC then you can find the former sale price on Land Title documents where you can also find the amount of the mortgage at the time it was secured and (sometimes) interest rate. BC Assessment will provide documents which include historic transactions with prices. They cost a small amount and can be obtained through a lawyer or notary.

#109 Buy? Curious? on 11.22.12 at 2:32 am

One more thing relating to the privatisation of information, why the hell is the Globe and Mail setting up a pay-wall for their website when they were giving it away for free for years? Do they really think I want to read about Margaret Wente’s plagiarised stories, Leah Mclaren’s self promoting home sale off of Queen St West or John Barber’s take on City politics?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8EpSdyB0zY

#110 dosouth on 11.22.12 at 2:32 am

#46 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.21.12 at 10:23 pm

Zestimates? $/sqft? Ya the real estate neophytes are going to have a heyday with that one. LOL. And a Zestimate price range latitude of more than 50% either way? Ya right, that’s informative.

What is the predominant use of Zillow in the US? Check it out. REALTORS using it as a lead capture tool.

Please, please, please oh pleeeeaase let them have their way and give us a Zillow.ca
__________________________

Hey, can’t be much worse or more useless than “Realtor.ca”….now can it!

#111 renters rule on 11.22.12 at 2:33 am

No one is saying that the realtors have to “give away” their data — what we are saying is, that aside from a market based user fee, the data should be available to anyone who would like to use it.

If I were in the market for a property (which believe me, I would not be for at least 2 years), I should be able to subscribe to a RE database for a reasonable monthly rate… you know $30 or something like that, as I do my market research and weigh my options re price versus location, features, etc.

The monopoly on market data that the RE have is an obscene market distortion….

If realtors don’t get that…. well, I don’t know….consider other career alternatives…?

#112 We Want Zillow | Vancouver Real Estate Anecdote Archive on 11.22.12 at 3:15 am

[...] Turner, at greaterfool.ca, today published a good piece on the benefits of information. Zillow is a transparent and [...]

#113 Oakvillian on 11.22.12 at 3:20 am

http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1290710–trump-hotel-s-troubles-mounting-as-sales-tactics-face-probe

#114 cynically on 11.22.12 at 3:27 am

First, great post. Second, why do we not have a Zillow facsimile in Canada? The answer really is because we lack the drive and haven’t the creativity, innovativeness and determination that our American cousins have. We’re more concerned with our next apology to the guy who accidentally bumps into us. We’re quiet, more respectful and tend to accept what comes our way, either good or bad, particularly from the government, although we complain a lot about the latter. A good example of the divide between the two countries is the inventiveness in the US and the lack thereof in Canada. They do the work and we copy and hopefully Zillow will be copied but it could just as well have been Canada’s and the US copying but for the personality differences in the two countries. My personal view for the great gap is our Britishness and although the Yanks started out with the same heritage, they opened up immigration at the turn of the last century and we remained tied to the mother country with restricted and discriminative immigration but that is changing for the good with all the new blood coming in so maybe Canada will one day show some leadership.

#115 PoorgEoisie on 11.22.12 at 3:51 am

Realtors please tell us why this info should be kept from us. Free markets are not such if only the supply side benefits from the lack of regulation. In fact, it should be noted that governments are not the only entity that can impede free markets. Withholding this type of information serves no purpose other than to keep prices artificially high and thereby distorting the actual equilibrium between supply and demand. Besides if you really wanted a free market, you can write your MP and ask to abolish the CMHC and let the banks actually scrutinize who they lend money to.
Face it, your secrecy and selective reporting has caused an awful mess and saying that doing so is justified in the sense that it is what was “criticical to their financial success” is completely laughable. “to think otherwise is preposterous” tabarnac you should have been a defense attorney for Bernie Madoff or the Enron gang because by your logic you think insider trading and theft are virtuous and the cornerstones of the free market.

I wish you were nooneofconsequence, but there are many like you and the consequences on our country will be dire.

#116 DA2 on 11.22.12 at 4:08 am

Realtors pay real estate board fees, real estate association fees, desk fees, office fees, transaction fees, insurance fees, etc. However the general public wants to use everything for free? If they decide to open up all board information that they have accumulated, employed many to collect, and divulge it all for free…..who answers to any misinformation? Would they also be opened to getting sued for an owner’s so called entitlement to privacy? or sued for any errors in their data? like everything else in life, money talks…pay for it. Go and ask your realtor if you can give him/her some money for their monthly expenses and I’m sure they’ll provide the data you are so entitled to.

#117 HomeWatcher on 11.22.12 at 4:10 am

Stating that Zillow US doesn’t impact user sentiment on home prices or increase awareness on home prices is absolutely non-logical.

Using the argument that Zillow didn’t save the US housing implosion, and therefore it in some way isn’t accurate or doesn’t offer value is just as non-logical.

It is a guide – and any information that can be accessed about home properties is good information for the consumer.

Anyone else who sees otherwise has an obvious bias and probably stands to benefit in one of the numerous transactions (board, Realtor, mortgage broker)

#118 "aggie" on 11.22.12 at 4:15 am

Checking in periodically, as promised…

Well, tables have turned, and this formerly home-owning grandma is now a proud basement dweller at DD’s… and it’s helping all of us out, including the ankle-biters and all of our finances. And relationships. I hope!

I suspect the person I originally bought my condo from sold it to me for at least 70K more than she paid for it in the late 90s. I paid 247,900 in ’07, spent about 6K in upgrades, a few for myself, but mostly at the ‘end’ to help saleability.

Inspired by our esteemed host and encouraged by so many dear blog dogs, I focused fiercely on my goal to sell, listing in early June at 236,900. Showings dropped off cold turkey after July 9, so I laid new carpet, got rid of more excess furniture, bought more flower baskets, installed new faucets, and dropped to 232,700.

Was offered 225 after ~60 DOM. I countered and closed at 228,700. And counted my blessings.

Similar units in my area that were listed for months ahead of me are still for sale, and a few weeks ago, when I checked, they were still stubbornly sticking to their original asking prices, eagerly awaiting the autumn surge that even my realtor and various kindly friends had suggested I hold out for.

I haven’t checked the listings lately, but the signs on the 3 neighbouring building are still up, no Solds. The other 2 signs in front of my building quietly disappeared shortly after I sold; both were younger wannabe flippers.

Just as I, at first, partially blamed neighbouring lowball sales (2 estate sales; one senior moving to a care home — who still sold at more than double her original purchase price 20 years ago), the flippers must have felt that I was the last straw, making it impossible for them to get the price they’d hoped for.

But I can’t be blamed for the incredible price drops throughout this entire area, east of Vancouver. Brand new units advertised at 130, still touting the granite!

It certainly feels as though fewer people are moving to this part of BC. So many under-construction and new, empty-looking apartment complexes, with big, desperate signs barely disguising the fact that they’re almost begging for dwellers.

The highway and bridge expansion projects seem to actually making a dent in rush-hour traffic density. In past, the new lanes and roads and bridges tended to be too little, come too late, as the population managed to swell at a faster rate.

Or maybe there really are fewer cars on the road… fewer commuters due to fewer jobs?

Oh, and my next project is to find a decent, older getaway van, camperized, just a wee mobile space to call my own, to run away on weekends etc. Class B. Does anyone out there within a few hundred km have a decent-shape, decent-price van sitting unloved in a garage?

Or is someone going to tell me that this is a bad use of money?

#119 fat lady singing on 11.22.12 at 6:46 am

Keep an eye on the rental units people. I know its winter, but there is one hell of a lot of un rented units.

Use to see 600 listing for Vancouver, that figure has jump/spiked to 1400 yesterday. What does it mean, People needing money has to rent the units, people moving back to live with family, old geezer selling and moving to the states with their bagfull of retirement money, or simplily no jobs in the lower mainland forcing people to leave.

Garth you should do a segment on rental stats

#120 Rob now in Nova Scotia on 11.22.12 at 6:55 am

Hi Garth,

Thank you for the excellent blog. You left out one thing that I really, really enjoy and that is the map that viewpoint.ca provides. The map shows the shape of the lot so when you see a 20 acre property for sale, you can go to viewpoint.ca and see that it is 1 acre wide and 20 acres deep. The map also shows what sold recently in red so it is a fantastic service, well worth paying for.

Thank you for trying to help Bill out McMullin and getting this service across Canada. Is there anything we the people can do to speed up the process?

#121 Canuck Abroad on 11.22.12 at 7:22 am

Speaking of lack of information, I wonder what was going through the mind of the seller and agent who listed this place:

http://www.realtor.ca/PropertyDetails.aspx?PropertyID=12602747&PidKey=-1015456618

There are no interior pictures, so it must need renovating right? And there is no address, so we are supposed to assess its value based on the neighbourhood but are not even able to see what is around it. And the agent’s website shows only new condos, not this listing anywhere so there is no more information there. Finally, it is listed at 869,888 (subtle!) so are they hoping a mainland Chinese will ring up the agent and offer to buy this mystery house sight unseen address unknown for over the offer? I can imagine the conversation, “I would like to buy your extremely lucky house but I insist on paying 1,188,888″. Sheesh.

#122 Bill McMullin on 11.22.12 at 7:22 am

Garth, great article. I’d like to offer a few points about ViewPoint and the issue.

– ViewPoint is a licensed brokerage and member of a number of real estate boards, including Toronto. Members own the boards and the data. The Competition Bureau case against TREB is about members being able to distribute listing information online like they do in person. If I as a member want to make listing data available online, I should be able to. Forcing me to do it in person, manually, just raises my costs and slows the process. I like that consumers like what we do and how we do it.

– There are a number of obscure, data-rich and powerful custodians of public property data beyond real estate boards. Organizations such as Teranet, CMHC and MPAC have public mandates including legislated tolling powers to collect and manage data. It’s seriously questionable when the group (the taxpayers) that paid to collect the data are the one group that don’t have ready access to the data! Teranet, CMHC and MPAC sell our data to banks and agents but they won’t make the data available to innovators who see an opportunity to add value to the data, integrating disparate datasets and making it available to the public the way they like it – free and easily. The way it stands now, these organizations, by not releasing the data, gain an effective monopoly on innovation in terms of how the data is used. The alarm bells should be going off and the public enraged.

Bill McMullin
CEO
ViewPoint.ca / ViewPoint Realty

#123 House Horny Housewife on 11.22.12 at 7:29 am

Garth,

A truly good agent should tell you not only what a property sold for but also how long it has been on the market and what other properties in the neighbourhood sold for and in how many days. Any re-listings (a common trick in the real estate industry to make a listing seem new) should also be divulged by a truly good agent.

Any agent that does not give you this information is not working for you and should be fired. I do think that having a good agent is necessary if you want to find a good property. Sometimes these guys know even before a property comes on the market that it is coming up for sale. And sometimes a real estate agent can warn you against certain pitfalls that they are aware of because perhaps the property had been bought and sold several times in a short period of time.

I also think that municipal evaluations should be taken into account when looking at a property. In our neck of the woods they are a good indication of what a property is worth.

Recent sales prices of similiar properties in the same neighbourhood and municipal evaluations are two things that buyers should consider and weigh carefully when deciding on a price. Of course, each property may be quite different from another within the same neighbourhood and in this case, it makes pricing more difficult. Not to mention what is important to the buyer. Someone may be willing to pay more money because of a pool, for example, but I would consider it a liability so I would not.

Asking price is totally irrelevant. You need to consider ALL info at your disposal when making an offer .. similiar sales, municipal evaluations, how long a property has been on the market, the seller’s situation, economic factors (ie. the market), the season (if winter is coming and the seller doesn’t want a property on their hands during the expensive winter season) .. EVERYTHING and anything can come into play.

HHHW

#124 detalumis on 11.22.12 at 8:26 am

#95 as somebody who sold their own house guess what it’s not rocket science. Sorry it just ain’t.

#21 the MLS IT system is antique, I worked with some new immigrant contractors who worked on it almost 20 years ago, that’s how old the software is and they developed it on the cheap then and never upgrade it. The only cost is for inputting the data which I’m sure is also done for almost nothing.

#125 Mike on 11.22.12 at 8:28 am

@122 “Asking price is totally irrelevant.”

IT’S THE ONLY THING WE HAVE TO PRICE A NEIGHBOURHOOD BEFORE WE HAVE AGENTS FISH OUT THE COMPS THEY WANT US TO SEE.

Hand-picked printed out comps might have been okay for 1975, but it’s 2012. Better tools are available.

#126 Canuck Abroad on 11.22.12 at 8:59 am

GX, are you really comparing the skill required to be a used housed salesman with that of a doctor? Or a pilot? Bold move, doing that here. By the way, it’s called a PREscription.

#127 Canuck Abroad on 11.22.12 at 9:15 am

Garth I think its just a matter of time until Zillow-type information is available. There hasn’t been any demand because it seems like Canadians don’t really care what a property costs as long as they can (1) afford the monthly (thanks F!) and (2) flip it for more money down the road (because real estate always goes up). It’s been a no-lose roll of the dice for many years and few people intend to actually pay off the principal anymore.

A half dozen years of falling prices will probably refocus people’s minds and I think we will naturally see more interest in the long term cost to extinguish the mortgage and what that means in terms of annual running costs, comparables to neighbouring homes, and comparables to rents.

#128 maxx on 11.22.12 at 9:23 am

Realtards now have an obscene level of carte-blanche control over the entire business of real estate, beginning with MSM. That level of control has reached a point that continues to inflict enormous fiscal damage to the consumer and by extension, the economy at large.

Consumer debt is strangling the economy. Until monetary policy tightens, any other attempts will only have people scrambling to find loopholes and creative ways to continue acquiring debt.

It was a neat little concerted trick to see how pumping RE and dropping interest rates could spin money faster and faster, with tax coffers and bank profits swelling and self-proclaimed “rock-star” realtards pontificating in the most arrogant way on the future of RE.

The result of all of this “permissiveness” is an enormous economic mess that will not clear up- in most people’s lifetimes.

#129 Grantmi on 11.22.12 at 9:40 am

If I were a realtor, between this anti-monopoly prosecution and the unquestionable one-way down slide in real estate values, to say nothing of already crashing sales numbers; it would be advisable to start training in other non-real estate careers… which may require far more than the 5 week course most took to become a “professional” (in marketing name only) realtor.

I have one for you….. “do you want fries with that!”

#130 Jeff in Moose Jaw on 11.22.12 at 9:42 am

Garth,

Thank you for bringing this topic up.
Bill is a true entrepreneur.

We need this information available across Canada, its power to the people!

#131 fancy_pants on 11.22.12 at 9:51 am

God created a special little place for those on the greedy realturd boards – it’s a HOT piece of RE, room for all.

#132 Canadian Watchdog on 11.22.12 at 9:52 am

Can you confirm if #122 is Bill McMullin Garth?

Confirmed. — Garth

#133 Junius on 11.22.12 at 10:04 am

#122 Bill McMullin,

Wow. Thank you for your post. This part of your post was completely new to me:

“It’s seriously questionable when the group (the taxpayers) that paid to collect the data are the one group that don’t have ready access to the data! Teranet, CMHC and MPAC sell our data to banks and agents but they won’t make the data available to innovators who see an opportunity to add value to the data, integrating disparate datasets and making it available to the public the way they like it – free and easily.”

Of course this data should be made available to all Canadians. Who is on the hook if (when) the CMHC gets into trouble? We the taxpayer. We are fiduciaries to this business and should have access to the information.

This is even worse than I thought.

Great post Garth.

#134 Uwinsome on 11.22.12 at 10:11 am

Vancouver un-affordability

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/real-estate/Drop+home+ownership+costs+offers+little+help+Metro/7592888/story.html

#135 Junius on 11.22.12 at 10:12 am

#68 wes coast,

You said, “Not to be the devil’s advocate here – but – Zillow and all its information didn’t stop the US housing market implosion.”

I believe Zillow.com was only a year or two old at the time. I believe it started around 2005 so it didn’t have any time to have an impact.

Regardless, it is hard to see how transparency would help save people from a bubble because all they would see are ever rising prices. The internet and tech stock bubble of the late 90s is a good example.

This is why bubbles are so dangerous. It is hard to know when you are in one. Like now.

#136 Ronaldo on 11.22.12 at 10:17 am

http://www.tmxmoney.com/en/cpnews/TB401.html

Things are looking up. Only 83.2% of pre tax income needed to own a home in Vancouver. Doesn’t leave much for anything else does it?

#137 Junius on 11.22.12 at 10:21 am

#98 Realist,

You said,”Neither the total population, nor the total GDP, has any bearing on house prices. Prices in the US are lower than in Canada primarily because the Canadian economy hasn’t slumped as much since 2008. This is because commodity prices have been high and Canada is mainly a primary producer (particularly of oil and food).”

You are mostly wrong here. GDP matters although what is most important is obviously the average household income. Since there is little difference between Canadians and Americans it doesn’t make sense that the price of houses should be so much higher in Canada – particularly considering the historical trends that have them much closer than they are now.

The Canadian economy was pumped up in 2008 but not by commodities. The commodities boom is vastly overstated. Emergency interest rates fuelled a mini Real Estate boom – as opposed to a drop which was happening – as well as a consumer credit boom. The economy was put on steroids by a combination of cheap debt and lax Mortgage lending rules that created a National wealth effect.

We are now at the end of the impact of the credit boom. It has been trailing off for more than a year. As a result, house prices will continue to fall with or without a recession in 2013.

#138 big T on 11.22.12 at 10:23 am

there are predators, and prey, it is what it is, and will
always be.

#139 editor on 11.22.12 at 10:35 am

#43 houses are a product yes but unlike food are sold directly by their owners with agents only as go betweens called brokers. Grocers buy food and mark it up. if realtors decide that they are willing to assume risk and buy houses from sellers and then resell them it would be a different story. anyhow if free-market obsessed USA thinks this info should be public, that tells you something. yes these are private transactions but it is a public market. that is why as with stocks you get the numbers but not the names.

#140 MM on 11.22.12 at 10:43 am

@cynically #114

“My personal view for the great gap is our Britishness and although the Yanks started out with the same heritage, they opened up immigration at the turn of the last century and we remained tied to the mother country with restricted and discriminative immigration but that is changing for the good with all the new blood coming in so maybe Canada will one day show some leadership.”

You think recent immigrants to Canada are going to push for greater levels of democracy and transparency than current standards! What a joke! Many new immigrants I work with are the last ones to ever stand up for their rights. They come from countries that lack democracy and they feel that Canada has a great deal of democracy compared to where they come from. It’s the immigrants I work with who always work over time but never get paid time and a half because the employer gets them to sign an averaging agreement. I’m born in Canada and I remember when the NDP ran BC and I never, ever will sign an averaging agreement with my employer. If I work overtime, I expect to be paid time and a half. That’s why the boss never asks me to work overtime–he knows he has to pay me for it. He knows he has the immigrants who will gladly work the over time without being paid time and a half.

#141 Franke le Skank on 11.22.12 at 11:01 am

Depending how many people get “bent over the table” as a result of the upcoming decline in house prices, public outcry may demand that this information be regulated by the government to avoid the this type of theft/fraud from happening again.

#142 Trevor uk on 11.22.12 at 11:02 am

Hi, I know your a busy man Garth with all the help you offer your Canadian blog dogs , but could you please tell me if you think the England, UK housing market could fall further? Is it time to buy here? It’s Sara’s we don’t have any great blogs like yours over here. I’ve been waiting 5 years to buy. Do you think your advise applies over here for me to should buy? Any advise would be great as my £80k been sitting in an bank basic account for quite a few years… Will house prices go up here any time or down or should I just plonk my money in shares to which I have no knowledge…

#143 Junius on 11.22.12 at 11:06 am

#134 Uwinsome,

Amazing how the RBC Economist soft pedals the entire issue of prices going down further. Look at how qualified the statements are. Amazing.
““In terms of (in Metro Vancouver) affordability, I would expect some further improvement,” RBC senior economist Robert Hogue said in an interview, “but again, from extremely poor levels.”

Hogue added that after seeing a slowdown in sales through most of the year, Metro Vancouver saw market activity stabilize somewhat in October.

However, “price adjustments are likely to persist a little bit longer.”

“A little bit longer”? How about years.

“Some improvement”. How about 30-40% more decline in most areas.

#144 Daisy Mae on 11.22.12 at 11:11 am

CREA and all realtors across the land have just lost ALL credibility.

And there is going to be an extremely high price to pay for their “scandalous and collusive activities”.

And, it’ll serve them right.

They’re almost as smart as our federal government….

#145 Penny Henny on 11.22.12 at 11:14 am

Riddle me this Garthman.
Why did the estimated value of this Chicago home jump from about $60,000 to $120,000 around Nov 2011?

#146 in the dark on 11.22.12 at 11:15 am

Great post and thanks to Bill for further clarification via comments. Very insightful information that should incite “the group” (taxpayers) into action. Maybe we should start by signing an online petition?

#147 Herb on 11.22.12 at 11:17 am

Further to my #31, #59 Bottoms Up and #106 NorthOf49,

The devil just made me shell out $14 (+ HST) for MPAC’s “Residential Detail Report” on the SFH we’re renting. This included the “Last Valid Sale” date and price (indicating that the owner paid too much when he bought it.) Had it on my monitor instantly via http://www.propertyline.ca/pages_english/products_services/propertyline.html

So the information is available but treated as proprietary by MPAC and commercial interests. Bill McMullin is right – it should be in the public domain as a public service. But that would mean knowledge – and power – slipping from self-interested hands.

#148 LaughingCon on 11.22.12 at 11:17 am

Soft Landing – “Drop in home prices spreads to Toronto”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/housing/drop-in-home-prices-spreads-to-toronto/article5518413/

Remember to use private browsing session when attempting to read any articles from Globe and Mail

And now some quotes from this:
“The decline in house prices that has hit Vancouver is spreading to Toronto, a shift that economists say marks the beginning of a national price correction.

“While many say the market has long been due for a correction, and that a healthy and gradual decline in prices is ahead, the new numbers are fuel for those who argue that federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s moves to cool the market went too far this summer.”

“Prices in Toronto dipped 0.6 per cent in October from September, the first monthly decline since the end of last year, according to the house price index compiled by Teranet and National Bank of Canada.”

“A number of other cities, including Quebec City, Victoria, Ottawa and Montreal, also saw prices fall in October. Nationally, prices were 0.2 per cent lower than in September.”

Craig Alexander, chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, said he was struck by how broad the declines were. “It’s no longer just about Vancouver.”

Ouch!

Whazzup / Smoking Man – It is goibg to be a nasty crash realtors, a nasty crash

#149 Bottoms_Up on 11.22.12 at 11:20 am

#122 Bill McMullin on 11.22.12 at 7:22 am
————————————————-
You make a great point, data that is gathered and retained through public funding should be freely available in an easily accessible manner.

As a home owner I can fairly easily see data through MPAC — but for my neighbourhood only. There is no help regarding making an informed decision about my next house purchase in a different neighbourhood — other than following it closely for a long time, or trusting that a real estate agent will be forthcoming and honest.

#150 Toronto_CA on 11.22.12 at 11:23 am

Sorry if this was posted yesterday, but wow. I have called October to be the turning point, and it looks like it was:

http://www.bildgta.ca/media_releases_2012_detail.asp?id=897

2,792 new homes were sold in October, which is the second-lowest October record. Due to three low sales months in a row, year-to-date sales of 29,322 new homes across the GTA have slipped to 14 per cent below the long-term average – the third-lowest in BILD’s records.

#151 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.22.12 at 11:28 am

#110dosouth on 11.22.12 at 2:32 am

Hey, can’t be much worse or more useless than “www.Realtor.ca”….now can it!

http://www.realtor.ca was developed by REALTORS® to provide consumers a public portal to the MLS database. It does not provide the public access to all the data as that would violate privacy laws. It used to be that 80% of prospective buyers and sellers would peruse the real estate section of their local newspaper as the beginnings of their foray into the market. They would then contact their preferred agent often sourcing one from those ads they had seen in the newspaper. As the newspaper offered little information (i.e. on small black and white photo along with a short description often leaving out the address or price) consumers were pretty much obligated to call the REALTOR® to learn anything more. As such the newspaper was treated by the industry as a lead generation tool. Very few homes were actually sold because of the ad in the newspaper. REALTORS® paid huge advertising costs to be in the newspaper for one reason only and that is because it was a most effective lead generation tool by which to find new clients not because it was an effective way to sell a particular house.

Advent http://www.realtor.ca. Realtor.ca offers consumers a whole lot more information than the newspaper ever could. Realtor.ca provides up to twenty high resolution full colour pictures of the subject property along with the address and asking price. That information alone has taken huge strides in helping consumers start their search. There are also room sizes, lot sizes and a whole lot more. Realtor.ca is of huge benefit to consumers and was the product of REALTORS® wanting to provide better access to the information.

Now most buyers look online and tell their REALTOR® which properties they want to view where it used to be that they would tell their REALTOR what they would like in a property and that REALTOR® would assemble a list of homes that matched it.

The lead generation tool that the newspaper used to be is gone. That was a pretty nice storefront for individual REALTORS® to advertise their wares. A REALTOR® used to be able to advertise limited information on their listings in the newspaper as an invitation to call them to learn more. Often the ad was construed to compel an interested party to call if they wanted to learn more as so much information was omitted and that which was there was contrived to compel just that. Now with http://www.realtor.ca the upload of that information to the portal is beyond the control of individual REALTORS® and provides information in a universal and unrestricted format that is far more informative and reliable than the newspaper ads could ever be.

http://www.realtor.ca is, believe me, of no great benefit to REALTORS® as we have lost that most valuable lead generation tool that the newspaper used to be. http://www.realtor.ca is of huge benefit as a reliable first source where consumers may start their home search. New REALTORS are finding it exceedingly difficult to find business now without an established customer base and no lead generation tool like the newspaper used to be. The predominant way in which a REALTOR® sources clients today is by referral.

The average REALTOR earns something like $65,000 in gross commissions a year having sold on average 9 properties. But before they see any of that they pay business expenses upwards of a minimum $40,000. It ain’t easy for new REALTORS® which is why the attrition rate is so high in the first two years. The last median figures I heard were $105,000 gross less $50,000 expense. Still not that great when you consider it.

A REALTOR®, to be successful, today must provide good service. No, a REALTOR® today must provide exceedingly exceptional service to their clients if they want to survive. They must provide such a high level of service that their clients will refer to them their friends, family and co-workers as that is predominantly how a REALTOR® gets new clients today. That is the biggest benefit to the consumer that has transpired by design by the real estate community. We have effectively policed and enforced best business practices by our membership by corralling them in a direction where their success is a direct consequence of the level of service they provide are; Shitty service = a shitty business and shitty income. Good service = a good business with a livable income. Exemplary service = an exemplary business that is predictable and reliable with a respectable income. The income does not increase so much with the increased level of good service but the longevity of the business increases as a more loyal customer base is developed and that is worth something to both REALTOR® and consumer alike. Don’t you think that is of HUGE benefit to consumers?

And you all, Garth included, think we are conspiring against you!?!

I can honestly say I know of no Canadian entity with as much integrity as The Canadian Real Estate Association. We’re not stupid. We know what consumers want. We know that our best business practice is to give consumers what they want. But this is a business, private business, the private business of over 100,000 Canadian REALTORS® who compete with one another for your business. You think we are anticompetitive? I assure you there is nothing quite as competitive as the business of being a REALTOR®.

We can close that portal to the information that http://www.realtor.ca provides or we can provide access to more information via that portal. But not all that you seek is there some of it is not our data but that of other organizations and some of that which is there I assure you our clients who have their homes listed with us would not want us to share. We have a duty to our clients not as much to you. They are our clients and we their agents in contract. Check out the law of Agency and you might gain a better understanding. You want to be treated with the same care and attention? Sign up then. There is an Exclusive Buyers Agency Agreement with your name on it out there somewhere. Yes it’s headed in that direction. Soon every REALTOR® will be requiring you sign an Exclusive Buyers Agency Agreement after an initial consultation before they do anymore work on your behalf. It will be required in order to protect both you and them in this increasingly litigious world. But mostly it will be brought about by the very consumer arguments as demonstrated by the comments on this blog. And while it may not appear what you wanted at first in time you will come to understand why it must be.

Now I’m not going to get into a great debate with the Blog Dawgs on this. I know that would be a futile effort. I merely have tried to provide you some valuable insight and background here. Do with it as you like. I will read your responses but not make further comment as I need to do some serious lead generation today to fill the void left by those long time clients who have moved away, moved into old age care facilities or taken up residence in a six foot plot as the newspaper just doesn’t cut it anymore. };-) Yes, lead generation is an ongoing task of any REALTOR® which if neglected will result in the demise of their business, now more than ever, whether you’re just starting out or been in the business two decades. So I’ve got to get back to work.

#152 Penny Henny on 11.22.12 at 11:31 am

My brother tried to buy a short sale in the states. Made an offer, waited 3 months for a response. Bank asked for an extra $1500 which he then agreed to. Sent it back to the bank and then nothing. no response.
Very shady dealings down there when a short sale is involved.
My take on it is that the bank is waiting as long as they can so they don’t have to realize the loss on paper.
Can you say insolvent. I knew you could.

#153 Penny Henny on 11.22.12 at 11:36 am

My other point is this.
Even with all this disclosure of information on U.S. real estate, did this stop people from buying a flipped home.
You know, like on the show Flip This House. The flipper buys the house for $35,000 puts some lipstick on it and then sells it for $100,000. But even with disclosure of pricing there was still someone ready to put pen to paper.
You can’t cure stupid.

Stinky Penny Henny

#154 John416 on 11.22.12 at 11:42 am

I have no doubt MLS will eventually be accessible to the public. There is nothing propietary about a citizen selling an asset to another citizen. Realtors will argue that their value is in negotiating and protecting their client but the reality is we live in a buyer-beware world anyways and when push comes to shove realtors aren’t accountable if they sell someone a faulty or overpriced home.

The good thing is that when MLS becomes a tool for sellers and buyers (and not just realtors), those incompetent realtors will be weeded out and the cream will rise to the top. I don’t think people will ever stop using realtors because the good ones provide a valuable service but we should see lower fees, better service, and higher consumer satisfaction which is really the whole point of a free market system, isn’t it?

#155 Dupcheck on 11.22.12 at 11:49 am

How about when real estate ads and agents lie about the commuting times! It is only 40 minutes away from Toronto. Maybe at 2:00 am with no one on the roads and doing 150 km/h downhill with back wind. Real estate agents are a disgrace to Canadian values. We are more trusty as people in general, but this does not mean that we should be taken advantage of. Do not take our kindness for weakness. Otherwise we will turn even more arrogant than our the south of the border neighbors.

Regulate Real Estate Agents. If they are going to make doctors, engineers, or lawyer profits or more, they need rules, and penalties, responsibilities, just like other regulated professions out there. Money is power, but without regulation it becomes just like the MOB.

#156 Franke le Skank on 11.22.12 at 11:55 am

#96 GX on 11.22.12 at 1:19 am
Your opinion is a little biased, the more the house sells for the more you make. So it makes sense that you think that peoples expectations are sometimes unreasonable if their expectations cuts into your profit. Although you may have good intentions, I think that you may have an overinflated idea of house values. I speak to many realtors and they sincerely believe what their real estate companies tell them in regards to the housing market. Upton Sinclairs quote applies here.

#157 PoorgEoisie on 11.22.12 at 11:56 am

Who paid to develope the HPI? They don’t mind giving that info away.

If the data was so difficult to interpret it would surely be free.

#158 Form Man on 11.22.12 at 12:00 pm

#151 DA

“I can honestly say I know of no Canadian entity with as much integrity as The Canadian Real Estate Association.”

that may be the funniest thing you have ever written DA ……..!

#159 Snowboid on 11.22.12 at 12:06 pm

#153 Penny Henny on 11.22.12 at 11:36 am…

You are correct, it doesn’t matter what you are buying, access to knowledge will never make up for stupidity.

BTW, it was common knowledge that foreclosures and short sales were risky and time-consuming.

Whether in Canada or the US, it is painfully obvious when looking at properties that a home was being flipped. Online in the US you can easily spot one based on sale price (to the flipper) vs asking price.

#160 Franke le Skank on 11.22.12 at 12:11 pm

#116 DA2 on 11.22.12 at 4:08 am
Why do we pay realtor commissions? You make money by unlocking front doors, turning on lights, the least you could do is provide something of value. Who knows, sharing this information could actually bring you more business. This isn’t medival times, information sharing has become common practice.

#161 Bill McMullin on 11.22.12 at 12:12 pm

#151 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.22.12 at 11:28 am

Great explanation of the evolution of real estate marketing, lead generation and the role of realtor.ca. I generally agree with everything you’ve said, save for this comment you made regarding the reason realtor.ca can’t provide consumers with access to more information: “It does not provide the public access to all the data as that would violate privacy laws. ”

Where in contract (such as the Seller Brokerage Agreement) does the seller allow agents to disclose their ‘personal information’ by hand yet restrict its disclosure online? Further, where does it say that the listing information is personal information? As I see it, IF it is personal information then agents have been in widespread violation of the law for years.

#162 Andrew on 11.22.12 at 12:16 pm

#46 DA

“What is the predominant use of Zillow in the US? Check it out. REALTORS using it as a lead capture tool.”

Sounds good DA, but I wonder why Canadian Realtors haven’t recognized the “capture” potential of this and do the same? I mean anything to get the sale right?

I say let’s try it out.

#163 TimV on 11.22.12 at 12:16 pm

#151 DA: If the information were more available, maybe my realtor could have devoted more time to providing the type of advice and guidance that I wanted. There’ll always be a place for good advice, but even the best realtor will be influenced by a commission structure that incentives maximal prices and minimal research.

#164 PoorgEoisie on 11.22.12 at 12:18 pm

DA, you seem like a smart guy, I don’t blame you for trying to save your industry’s reputation. You feel that the industry’ rep is an extension of your own. You need to believe that the industry is nice and good because you don’t want to go to work and feel like a prick everyday.

Employees of Rogers and Bell are not all pricks, but those companies collude and steal from Canadians. Employees of book publishing companies that charge 8 bucks more for Canadians (even when it’s printed in Canada) probably have something they tell themselves to soothe their egos, but to the consumer it is still a rip off.
Perhaps you will be the realtor to bring honesty and transparency to your industry and enjoy some well earned respect. Information will eventually come out and a lot of frauds will be exposed and those who were the most outspokenly in favour of the status quo will be forever looked at with suspicion from their neighbours.

#165 geo on 11.22.12 at 12:19 pm

I would assume there was resistance from the industry to the car fax program when it was first proposed.
It’s taken for granted now and worth it’s weight in $1,700 an ounce gold.

#166 Excellent Post on 11.22.12 at 12:19 pm

Thanks for doing a post on this subject, Garth. The subject of transparency and access to information, particularly information gathered by government or governmentally sponsored organizations, is a very important one. A more informed consumer, ideally, will be empowered to make a more reasoned investment decision. A policy change on this matter could go a long way to limiting irrational exuberance. Although it doesn’t seem to have prevented this south of the border, at least the information was available and, in that instance, the consumer must assume blame for their own poor decision.

#167 TimV on 11.22.12 at 12:20 pm

#151 DA: .. Which is also not to suggest that the current system is great for realtors, either. My realtor had stories of clients that genuinely seemed to have no intention of ever generating a commission. And at 9 sales per average realtor, the business has probably simply attracted a larger workforce than is necessary.

One symptom of a broken system is that people on both sides can legitimately complain about its brokenness (for another example, see landlord-tenant rules, which both sides can genuinely complain are unfair, in my opinion).

#168 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.22.12 at 12:31 pm

#122Bill McMullin on 11.22.12 at 7:22 am
Garth, great article. I’d like to offer a few points about ViewPoint and the issue.

– ViewPoint is a licensed brokerage and member of a number of real estate boards, including Toronto. Members own the boards and the data. The Competition Bureau case against TREB is about members being able to distribute listing information online like they do in person. If I as a member want to make listing data available online, I should be able to. Forcing me to do it in person, manually, just raises my costs and slows the process. I like that consumers like what we do and how we do it.

– There are a number of obscure, data-rich and powerful custodians of public property data beyond real estate boards. Organizations such as Teranet, CMHC and MPAC have public mandates including legislated tolling powers to collect and manage data. It’s seriously questionable when the group (the taxpayers) that paid to collect the data are the one group that don’t have ready access to the data! Teranet, CMHC and MPAC sell our data to banks and agents but they won’t make the data available to innovators who see an opportunity to add value to the data, integrating disparate datasets and making it available to the public the way they like it – free and easily. The way it stands now, these organizations, by not releasing the data, gain an effective monopoly on innovation in terms of how the data is used. The alarm bells should be going off and the public enraged.

Bill McMullin
CEO
ViewPoint.ca / ViewPoint Realty

FIRST I would like to point out as Mr. McMulliin already has; that it is really not so much CREA or TREB, or any other real estate board, which withholds the data nearly so much as other organizations like Teranet, SMHC and MPAC.

The over 100,000 REALTORS® who are members CREA and each one of the over 100 local real estate boards, which too are each a member of CREA, will willingly share any data they can get their hands on with any “client” of theirs. It’s what they do. It’s their job. It’s their fiduciary responsibility to find ALL the information they can that their client might best make a most informed decision. If they renege in doing so they can and should be sued for negligent misrepresentation or any other such breach of their fiduciary duty to their client. All REALTORS are bound at law to act in accordance with the laws of agency and can and should be fined, sued and/or their licence cancelled, commensurate with any such offence.

Make no mistake about it Mr. McMullin is a REALTOR® himself and interested in lead capture just like any REALTOR® and little more. Imagine the coup http://www.ViewPoint.ca (owned by Mr. McMullin) would pull off if he were able to do what he proposes on a wholesale level… Doing so would effectively make Mr. McMullin the sole king and master of a most substantial hill alongside that mountain known as CREA which is managed by the democratic votes of over 100,000 REALTORS® instead of the personal mandate of just one (aka Mr. McMullin).

There are similar, albeit smaller, fights on more local levels as renegades in the industry try to circumvent proper protocol established by their local real estate boards which, regardless of what you might believe, were established in the interest of public welfare. Those ‘renagades’ scream anti-competition in this form or that but really all they are doing is trying to wiggle their own less scrupulous means of “lead generation” through the cracks at the expense of you (the public) and me (REALTORS®) ultimately.

It’s not the public who has elevated the question of the anticompetitive acts of CREA or TREB before the Competition Bureau but rather such self-serving interest individuals as Mr. McMullin who guise themselves as ‘humble servants of the people’ who in fact are interested in taking that MLS model and creating one of and for the sheer profit for themselves. Who wouldn’t. It’s a free enterprise country and anyone can be it Zillow or Viewpoint. Although Zillow is not so much trying to undermine the real estate community as augment it.

The public apparently has not so much issue with the way things are as none has initiated such action against CREA as Mr. McMullin has. Why has the public not while Mr. McMullin has? Has Zillow taken NAR in the US to task? Most of the business Zillow does is with the members of NAR.

Hey don’t get me wrong I kinda like what Mr. McMullin is dong for his clients and I do much the same albeit on a much smaller scale. What I take exception to is the deceitful way in which Mr. McMulling is craftily trying to go about building his empire as he board-line slagging the real estate status quo as an evil manipulative cartel making him look like the white in shining armour when in fact he’s more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I’ve got to be careful here as it is against our code of ethics for one REALTOR® to make disparaging remarks about another. I do genuinely applaud Mr. McMullin for his good works which do indeed deserve such recognition – to a point. But beyond that the matter of his motivation behind his taking TREB and CREA to task I sincerely do believe is not nearly so altruistic as were the benefits he might enjoy by doing so successfully disclosed in a more transparently fashion and thereby otherwise suggest.

Maybe I am wrong and Mr. McMullin is such a “White Knight is shining armour” . Ultimately that is for the consumer to decide. But when speaking of withholding information don’t you believe that so should Mr. McMullin be entirely transparent too? Is he? What is his motivation? What is his benefit? What is his agenda? He is after all a businessman just like me and the other 100,000plus REALTORS out there each trying to earn a living.

#169 Junius on 11.22.12 at 12:37 pm

#153 Penny Henny,

You said, “But even with disclosure of pricing there was still someone ready to put pen to paper.
You can’t cure stupid.”

This is obviously true. Transparency doesn’t solve all problems however it does put more power in the hands of the insiders which in this case is the RE Industry.

It also clearly demonstrates one of the fundamental flaws in our so called “Free Market” economy. The entire notion of free markets rests on both sides of a transaction having perfect market information. The reality is that information is often asymmetrical with one party having a clear advantage.

The fact is that the Real Estate market is better many markets for goods and services in our society. Unfettered or poorly regulated markets always tend towards monopolistic practices. Price fixing is simply easier than innovating and providing better services.

#170 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.22.12 at 12:54 pm

#158Form Man on 11.22.12 at 12:00 pm
#151 DA

“I can honestly say I know of no Canadian entity with as much integrity as The Canadian Real Estate Association.”

that may be the funniest thing you have ever written DA ……..!

I will say it again; I can honestly say I know of no Canadian entity with as much integrity as The Canadian Real Estate Association.

If you could view it from the inside you too would agree.

Unfortunately wild market swings hurt people one way or another and those people who are hurt by those market swings seek a most visible scape goat. When the market rocket up and would be buyers increasingly are excluded from entry who do they blame? REALTORS®. When the market crashes and people lose valuable equity who do they blame? Their REALTOR®.

But why does the market rise and fall so? General consumer greed and fear; that is why the market ramps up inexplicably and tumbles back down. It’s not the wholesale manipulative acts of REALTORS® that has nearly the effect on the market that house horny buyers or fear stricken sellers have. REALTORS® report the market they do not make it.

Buyers never seem to buy in a buyer’s market. Why? Because they think prices have yet further to fall. Buyers typically buy in a seller’s market. Why? Because they believe if they don’t buy right now prices will continue to rise and eventually price them out of the market forever.

Anyway Form Man it’s always a pleasure and I am quite sure someday we’ll have a good laugh or two over a beer at the end of the day on a jobsite somewhere. Seriously, I’m closer than you think. Until then I’ve got work to do in the interim. Later…

#171 Jamie Groulx on 11.22.12 at 12:58 pm

How do we get a movement similar to Bill McMullin’s outside of Halifax? This information should be public access, and sites like Zillow & Viewpoint should not only be encouraged, but supported.

#172 Derek R on 11.22.12 at 12:59 pm

#118 “aggie” on 11.22.12 at 4:15 am wrote:
Checking in periodically, as promised…

Good to hear that things are going well.

Oh, and my next project is to find a decent, older getaway van, camperized, just a wee mobile space to call my own, to run away on weekends etc. Class B. Does anyone out there within a few hundred km have a decent-shape, decent-price van sitting unloved in a garage?

Or is someone going to tell me that this is a bad use of money?

Well, it may be or it may not be. You’ll need to sit down and do the arithmetic to see what you can afford without it being a burden. A camper van is a nice thing to own so I hope that you can find a decent one at a decent price but you need to know how it will fit into your monthly budget. Remember that like a house, it’s not just the upfront cost, it’s the running costs as well.

Gail Vaz-Oxlade has got a nice set of tools to do budgeting on her website so it’s worth taking a look at that.

#173 SRV on 11.22.12 at 1:10 pm

Thanks Garth… the lack of information in MLS is a disgrace!

Hoping you can provide some email addresses for The Competition Tribunal members… a few hundred (thousands would be better) may just tip the scales.

You know the RE groups are throwing everything they have at status quo.

#174 Derek R on 11.22.12 at 1:12 pm

#120 Rob now in Nova Scotia on 11.22.12 at 6:55 am wrote
The map also shows what sold recently in red so it is a fantastic service, well worth paying for.

Gotta agree with that. It’s a good site, very informative.

#175 GTARealEstateCorner on 11.22.12 at 1:33 pm

Hi guys, I’m reporting my current whereabouts. I’m snuggling with Smoking Man. His macho act is simply that, an act. He’s a big softie, yes and I mean a softie….everywhere.

#176 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.22.12 at 1:33 pm

People, what you do not seem to realize is that the vast amount of information your REALTOR can and should gather and provide you that you can be assured of making a well informed decision is not on the MLS™. And that information which is on the MLS™ is not always correct as evidenced by the disclaimer “Information is from sources deemed reliable but should not be relied upon without verification” found at the bottom of every listing data sheet printed from the MLS.

There is some data pertaining to client’s private information on the MLS™ we are not allowed to share. I’m sure you can appreciate that. But rest assured that private personal information of the seller’s is really not applicable to the transaction you may be contemplating anyway.

The fact of the matter is you have access to all the information a REALTOR® does you just have to know where to find it and be prepared to pay the price. Often a REALTOR® will pull a land title from the land title office and many of the accompanying documents for you to peruse before making an offer. Those documents cost money – often hundreds of dollars. Often the pulling of those documents provides information which actually causes the prospective buyer not to buy. Again you can get this stuff too. You just need to know where to find it and be prepared to pay the price, over and over again until you find the right property.

Not much of the information comes from MLS™. That database has limited resources in fact. And the resources it does have cannot necessarily be relied upon.

So what good is the MLS™?

The MLS™ was created with intent to facilitate the sharing of any one member REALTORS® listings with the other member REALTORS® of his/her board that the other member might have a buyer for that property for which the seller has contracted their REALTOR® to use all resources to market to such prospective buyers be it through another REALTOR®. The reason you want to list with a REALTOR® is because they co-operate with all the other REALTORS®. REALTORS® network. It’s like having a National Sales Force 100,000 strong or in the case of my local Board having a sales force of 800 local REALTORS® all trying their best to sell my listings – given they are priced right to begin with of course, or those of another REALTOR® if they are what their client is looking for

The MLS™ was not designed and developed to hide information from the public. It was designed and developed to expose homes listed with a REALTOR® to as many prospective eyeballs as possible. And I’d say it does a pretty damned good job of doing just that. The MLS™ is merely an advertising tool at it’s most fundamental level. The data you seek access to is available to you if you know where to find it. But the bulk of that data is not on the MLS. Most of that data is in a multitude of other places like Strata Management Companies, Land Title Offices, City Halls, Banks and so many more. You want me to gather it for you? Well my time is worth money.

#177 Alex on 11.22.12 at 1:38 pm

While there is no doubt there are many problems facing the real estate industry – (too many agents, too many real estate boards, too many brokerages, lack of respect for industry members by the population at large) – the lack of transparency relating to property information available to consumers in every province except Nova Scotia is appalling. Think about it – the consumer is the one paying the bill and it is the same consumer who does not have easy access to current and historical property information as is the case in Nova Scotia. The real estate boards have it, the agents have it, CREA has it, CMHC has it, provincial land registry offices have it, MPAC has it ……… the list goes on.

It’s clear that consumers are interested in property information such as is available on the viewpoint.ca site, and one has to wonder what is the motivation to stymie easy access to this information in other provinces. I for one am ruling out “customer service” as one of the answers.

#178 Triplenet on 11.22.12 at 1:41 pm

Garth,
I think the privacy commissioner knocked on Melanie’s door.
Also, there are private real estate professionals that for a $500 fee will provide you with all the pertinent residential real estate data you will need to analyze the market and make a very informed buy/sell decision. For a further $500 they will appraise a specific property for you.

#179 dosouth on 11.22.12 at 1:43 pm

AKA- DA

Wow you need to get a client. You and you’re realtor friends are plugging up this very worthwhile blog…..maybe they need a listing too?

#180 Blacksheep on 11.22.12 at 1:45 pm

DA,

“There is an Exclusive Buyers Agency Agreement with your name on it out there somewhere. Yes it’s headed in that direction. Soon every REALTOR® will be requiring you sign an Exclusive Buyers Agency Agreement after an initial consultation before they do anymore work on your behalf.”
—————————————————-
In my business, when I get a large request for quote, should I expect some form of contract be signed, before I undertake the laborious task?

Not…a…chance.

Competition would never allow it. How many RE agents in Canada? I believe your misreading the situation. Do to technology, RE agents are losing power /control and will continue to do so. I think most R.E.A. should consider themselves lucky to have made a killing for the past five years. This correction is going to occur regardless of what any body does at this point. This is, and always has been, about psychology.

take care
Blacksheep

#181 Bill McMullin on 11.22.12 at 1:50 pm

Devil’s Advocate,

I sincerely appreciate what you are saying and how you say it. I expect and accept the criticism. It comes with being a ‘disruptor’. We do walk a fine line, as does every business, because of the natural dilemma to balance the interests of all the parties. We are not a charity. Striking the ‘right’ balance is most difficult in real estate because there are so many parties – the buyer, seller, broker, agents, real estate board, association, regulators and last but not least, the business/brokerage, yet, oddly, it’s a system with a single payer, the seller, and one where the money is all too out-of-sight, out-of-mind. If sellers paid their commission fees in one-hundred dollar bills to their agent on closing day, I’m sure we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

ViewPoint’s strategy/agenda is to attract and retain a large audience of real estate consumers by giving them easy access to a range of property and listing data. It’s an expensive, battle-prone exercise to do what we do, which partly explains why we’re unique. Our business model relies on monetizing the audience. We’re trying to do that by offering brokerage and advertising, plus a few other experiments. We haven’t figured out how to do that profitably, and we may never. That’s the risk that justifies the return, should we make one.

#182 Reasonfirst on 11.22.12 at 1:51 pm

#36 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate

“Do you have any idea how much the assembly and maintenance of that information has cost over the years?”

I don’t. Please do tell. And if you were to spread that out over total transactions maybe a few dollar per is my guess.

#183 Seriously? on 11.22.12 at 1:57 pm

In a system of checks and balances, the lender is supposed to be the prudent party in the sales agreement.

When we allow the banks to be completely absolved of any responsibility for their lending practices with our money, well we shouldn’t be surprised when the banks lend out 600 billion taxpayer guaranteed dollars.

Apparently we didn’t learn anything from the American melt down and the Canadian banks being bailed out for their 60 billion dollar loss in American real estate.

This is and was bad policy aided and abetted by the Harper govt.

This steaming pile of crap rightfully deserves to land on Harpers desk and neck.

Burn.

Seriously.

#184 Real Estate: MLS = Moron Listing Service ? | on 11.22.12 at 1:58 pm

[...] Moron Listing Service http://www.greaterfool.ca/2012/11/21/moron-listing-service/#comments [...]

#185 TimV on 11.22.12 at 1:59 pm

#170 DA: Very few people or organizations will say “we have only minimal integrity”. In fact, would you willingly be part of an organisation with no integrity? Probably not. There’s some kind of psychological fallacy here. The integrity that you are thinking of — and be specific in its examples — who does it benefit? Other members of the organisation? Even the black market has rules that are followed. One can well argue that its members have integrity, but eventually it’s just semantics.

#186 Beach Girl on 11.22.12 at 1:59 pm

It would not really appeal to me, but for 10,000 bucks. It has skin. I am in. The neighbours might not like me and the tribe. But we are getting by quite finely. I think all of us mad squirrels are going to Florida. Either we go to Sanibel Island (I like it there) or some trailer park. Decisions. I like Canada in the winter. But we have to ramp things up.

#187 hangfire on 11.22.12 at 2:03 pm

87% of PRETAX INCOME !!

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/real-estate/Drop+home+ownership+costs+offers+little+help+Metro/7592888/story.html

And the losers down at the Real Estate Board keep pumpin affordability ads?

This is one of the few stories that has made the differentiation between SFH and Condo prices. The bar has been lowered by the salesforce so as not to have to disclose the true price of real estate in Vancouver as grossly unaffordable.

As the story states….the median income in Vancouver is $58000…that makes the ratio to average prices 13.79 times earnings if you assume that the average price that was being ballyhooed to the rooftops as a good thing as $800,000.00 !! Nowhere in the world did prices ever get that stretched before a total collapse.

And yet city council insists on building even higher density miniscule condo projects to beef up the sagging revenue after people like Penny Bellum…the mayors personal counsellor pulling down $350,000 per year. She’s one of many thousands of civic servant that has been grabbing big dollars in raises and bonuses from the juiced up real estate and development tax revenue.

It was the city that reeduced the size of condo’s by 47% in order to cram more tax payers on every site. In Ontarion for example….the debt has now risen under McGuinty to $275 billion dollars…only 15 billion lower than Greece with has over double the population. The new municipal/city spending watchdog in BC may help but I fear its a case of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

#188 Canadian Watchdog on 11.22.12 at 2:03 pm

#132 Thank-you

—-

#CMHC is now officially on #Twitter.
#OSFI is now officially on #Twitter.

“OSFI has authorized CMHC to commence web-based social-networking campaign to booster public image.”

The machine has been awoken. Too much noise.

#189 Babblemaster on 11.22.12 at 2:11 pm

#43 NoOneOfConsequence

How can anyone still be surprised at this kid of behaviour exists?

——————–

It’s not a matter of anyone being surprised. Most folks know full well about this monopolistic nonsense. However, just because it’s well known, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. The fact is the RE industry has engineered a system where they have a monopoly on this information and they’ve bribed politicians to allow that and to not regulate. Regarding the cost of that data, the RE industry makes massive profits on all house sales. That should be enough to fund all their business activities, including the collection and dissemination of essential data to the public.

#190 Oceanside on 11.22.12 at 2:22 pm

Qualicum Beach and Parksville in the last 31 days have had 21 completed sales (of 40 total sales) on homes over $300K. Based on the last time listed they have sold on an average of $27,000 under asking. Low of $14K less to a high of $54K less. Bit off the subject today but……..

#191 Franke le Skank on 11.22.12 at 2:35 pm

#176 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.22.12 at 1:33 pm
Its great that you provide an alternate point of view and other people who stand to gain from your perspective may agree with your arguments. In the end, information sharing is a good thing for the consumer whether you like it or not. You can try to discredit Bill McMullin, state that misinformation could be a potential problem or any other reason you can think of. In the end, if a seller has the ability to hide information that could jeopardize their profit (and yours), the information will not be shared. This is deceitful and is done at the expense of the buyer. All buyers should have the right to this information and be able to seek advise from other people other than the realtor who is making the commission.

#192 Laurie on 11.22.12 at 2:55 pm

Fascinating post. I had no idea that data was so widely accessible outside of our bubble. Between this and yesterday’s Manipulator post, the evidence of who the Screwer and the Screwed are continues to mount. Thanks for this.

#193 LazyJason on 11.22.12 at 3:03 pm

#176 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.22.12 at 1:33 pm

The MLS™ was not designed and developed to hide information from the public. It was designed and developed to expose homes listed with a REALTOR® to as many prospective eyeballs as possible. And I’d say it does a pretty damned good job of doing just that. The MLS™ is merely an advertising tool at it’s most fundamental level. The data you seek access to is available to you if you know where to find it. But the bulk of that data is not on the MLS. Most of that data is in a multitude of other places like Strata Management Companies, Land Title Offices, City Halls, Banks and so many more. You want me to gather it for you? Well my time is worth money.

So Devil’s Advocate, based on that statement, how do you justify the cost of your time on a purchase/sale of $800,000 with a 5% commission, split of course between the LA and the BA? That’d be $20,000 to you, and for what? What have you actually done to deserve that kind of fee?

#194 Alex on 11.22.12 at 3:11 pm

DA, since it is obvious that it is possible to produce a very popular site like viewpoint.ca would you have any insight as to why we consumers do not have access to this or similar sites in other provinces?

#195 Bottoms_Up on 11.22.12 at 3:15 pm

#193 LazyJason on 11.22.12 at 3:03 pm
———————————————
Half of the money of each agent goes to the respective brokerages, thus the agent would take home gross $10,000 from the sale of a $800,000 house. After paying tax, they may get $6500. Yes a decent pay day, but if you’re only selling 1 house every couple of months you’re barely above the poverty line.

#196 Old Man on 11.22.12 at 3:18 pm

#186 Beach Girl – If you want to ramp things up Key West is the place for you, but might be too wild for you.

#197 brainsail on 11.22.12 at 3:24 pm

All of this makes me wonder what the CMHC 7 sec mortgage approval and municipal property assessment values are actually based on.

#198 RP McMurphy on 11.22.12 at 3:24 pm

#164 PoorgEoisie

“Perhaps you will be the realtor to bring honesty and transparency to your industry and enjoy some well earned respect. Information will eventually come out and a lot of frauds will be exposed and those who were the most outspokenly in favour of the status quo will be forever looked at with suspicion from their neighbours.”

Nice post. It was a great attempt to measure the size of the monkey on the back of “Devil’s Advocate”. However, this is a person who in post #151 said this:

“I can honestly say I know of no Canadian entity with as much integrity as The Canadian Real Estate Association.”

Did you read that correctly? LOL He spent what must have been an hour writing a post–the orangutan on his back is getting agitated–and he couldn’t stop for even a minute to consider whether there are possibly any other organizations, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, or Harvey’s for that matter, that rival CREA in the integrity department.

We all have high hopes for DA’s future, whether it’s flipping meat or selling memberships at Equinox, but right now he seems to be a long way down the rabbit hole.

#199 Canadian Watchdog on 11.22.12 at 3:27 pm

Reposted.

Team Dalton Real Estate – Chartered Real Estate Broker

Interesting news from the GMREB today – starting June 5, 2012, MLS listings in Quebec will be assigned RANDOM numbers (as opposed to the current method of them being consecutive). This means that buyers will no longer be able to “guess” how long a property has been listed simply by its MLS number. Good news for sellers!

#200 sciencemonkey on 11.22.12 at 3:33 pm

That’s a good question from #193. Even if a realtor deserved to be as overpaid as a TTC bus driver, $20000 is almost 4 months of 40 hr workweeks. Even a 1% total commission seems excessive for realtors. SmOldking Man would probably tell us this is the difference between entrepreneurial-ship and being a wage slave.

Anyway, this discussion about information reminds me of a similar phenomenon in science. As it stands, most respected, well-known journals are private journals. You submit your paper, you are happy if you get it accepted (pads the CV), and then they put your work behind a paywall. You can access the research if you are in academia because your university library overpays for access, usually bundled with a bunch of useless journals as well.

The problem here is that all academic research is at least partially if not fully publicly funded, yet it’s not available to the public. Instead the publisher turns a 30-40% profit for very little work. Consider that the reviewers and editors are all volunteers (usually professors).

Open access journals do exist, but they aren’t as prestigious, and it costs money (~$1000) to publish an article (TANSTAAFL). I’ve read that there are some programs in British universities to provide money for authors to publish open access.

One program I like is the Public Access Policy from NIH (the US National Institutes of Health). If NIH funds work, even if it’s first published in a private journal, within 12 months it must be publicly available on Pubmed Central as well. I’ve got a paper on there myself. I do remember reading somewhat recently that the publishers were lobbying to get that law changed, but I think they’ve giving up for now.

#201 NoName on 11.22.12 at 3:36 pm

Mr Turner, in my humble opinion i think this is greatest post ever!

Last night when i was done reading a blog post for some reason it did remind me of debate that went on for some 350yrs, between some nerd called Galileo and Church. I won’t waste anyone’s time and write about similarities, but I do believe that church put-up good fight to defend theirs Aristotle’s belief that Earth is center of the universe. This debate went on and on, from 17th century until 1992. When pope John Paul 2, acknowledged that Galileo’s teaching were correct, and same pope issued formal apology 18 yrs later.
_____________________________________________Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world’s structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture….
—Pope John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano N. 44 (1264) – November 4, 1992
_____________________________________________

It is intriguing to see that mls is following same foot steps. I don’t understand how “smart” people at MLS failed realize failed to open a new income stream by selling information for fee to interested parties. It amazes me to see how companies when they get big they become complacent and ignorant of change.

Regardless of outcome of lawsuit that their (mls) outdated business model is about to change, consumer confidence in whole RE industry is falling, and if Mr Turner happened to be correct that many people will experience hardship due to contraction in re prices, MLS will have hard time facing possible backlash in its current form.

I just have one question for MLS:
Why “you” want to be Earth, when you can be a Sun”

#202 Ralph Cramdown on 11.22.12 at 3:44 pm

#176 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate

Well my time is worth money.

Apparently not. Real estate agents spend 80% of their time waiting for the telephone to ring, and the other 20% dreaming up long lists of things they ‘do’ to justify their five figure commissions. When a customer calls, they have this whole pitch which boils down to having to pay for the time the agent was waiting for the phone to ring.

Funny excerpts from one example of the list:
22 Review agent’s and company’s credentials and accomplishments in the market [i.e. brag about self]
51 Research electricity availability and supplier’s name and phone number
67 Have extra key made for lockbox
72 Arrange for installation of yard sign
106 Review weekly Market Study
109 Promptly enter price changes in MLS listing database

Boy, the hours must just fly by. By the way, were you a stenographer before this gig?

#203 Cowgary on 11.22.12 at 4:01 pm

At calgaryherald.com today, there is a subtly manipulative tactic. If you scroll down to the bottom 3rd of the home page, you’ll see two Photo Galleries side by side. One is called “12 Inner City Calgary Homes for Rock-Bottom Prices”. Guess what – they are mostly junk. But that’s beside the point. Right beside it is another Gallery entitled “Don’t Want a Cheap Place in Calgary? Charming Vancouver Home Listed for 1.298M”. I guess they figure, if we see how expensive crap is in Vancouver, we’ll immediately run out and buy the less expensive Calgary crap. How stupid do they think we are?

#204 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.22.12 at 4:03 pm

#191 Franke le Skank on 11.22.12 at 2:35 pm

The Data and Information is Available to You Too

As I mentioned, the information is all there accessible to anyone who knows where to find it provided they have the time and resources to seek it out. Most of it is not on MLS but in other places and data bases.

#193LazyJason on 11.22.12 at 3:03 pm

Yes Commissions are Too High but…

There is more to it than just that to which you allude. But one thing I will agree with you on is the fees we (REALTORS®) charge are too high and the product of so much unpaid for work and expense which is the consequence of overpriced listings which never will sell. If more REALTORS would simply refuse to take listings they know are overpriced they would and could devote their time and resources to only those that will sell and provide a reasonable return on those expenses rather than they and those other incurred by the overpriced listing which do not sell.

Commissions though, you should know, are always negotiable. If my time and expense has been minimalized I am most happy to pass along some of that savings to my client. Also I have a menu of services from which a client can choose and pay for. I will often point out those more traditional services which really are of no benefit that the client might want to avoid thus saving me the hassle of performing them to no avail and my client the expense which obviously and rightfully I would pass along to them after having fronted them myself.

This business is not rocket science. The more things change the more they remain the same at the fundamental level.

Why do REALTORS advertise in the newspaper, well partly because their clients will bitch and complain if they do not. Also because the newspaper is a valuable, well used to be anyway, lead generation tool to the benefit of the REALTOR which their client pays for. Kinda like an open house. Open houses don’t sell houses but they sure do get a REALTOR face to face with prospective new clients.

You want the truth? Can you handle the truth?

#205 DA2 on 11.22.12 at 4:07 pm

If the general public is this outraged by the fact that realtors could be keeping valuable data from them, imagine the new-to-the-country immigrants who gets hosed when they buy a house? Often I see that these people, represented by chinese speaking realtors, pay way over market for properties. It sure is good for the local sellers, they are laughing all the way to the bank.

#206 deja view? on 11.22.12 at 4:07 pm

There’s something wrong with this picture, given that I don’t see any bullet holes in the siding unless the realtor had photoshopped them out.
10K for any house in livable condition anywhere in NA is unrealistic when you consider that building components are a buck on the buck and hard costs haven’t fallen one wit and are in fact increasing.

A trailer in a local trailer park sold for 100K.
Gov low cost housing in BC?? Impossible!
Give us your tired, your poor, your hungry..
What better place to go than Chicago.

#207 Ty on 11.22.12 at 4:14 pm

Where is the guy that compared realtors to doctors?

Come talk after 8 years of post secondary education + residency. Until then you are way out of your league, son. Go play with your numbers.

Note: it costs under 50 to pull a land title in MB. Hundreds? Hardly.

#208 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.22.12 at 4:24 pm

Anyway folks I really do appreciate Garth having opened up this opportunity for me to dispel some of the myths surrounding the business of real estate services, although I am quite sure it was not deliberate on his part. While I know many will not read my comments with such an open mind some I am sure will, at least in part, get the message. We (REALTORS®) are not a conspiring lot. We understand it is the consumer which drives the industry not us. And if we do not listen to our customers we will soon be out of business individually and collectively – just like any other business would be ultimately penalized for being so short sighted.

The information is there for you whether you gather it yourself or enlist the services of a professional to do it for you. The MLS™ is not a vault behind the doors of which we hide information from you. The MLS is a Multiple Listing System™ through which REALTORS® share their listings of properties they have listed with other REALTORS® who do the same. Each and every REALTOR® individually runs their own business in a spirit of competitive co-operatation with the other 100,000 REALTORS® in this land. Their primary focus: to get you where you want to be and do it in such a manner that you are so please with their service you gladly refer their services to your friends, family, neighbours and co-workers and anyone else that they might grow a profitable business that supports their families own hopes and dreams. It’s a competitive business in which many do not survive.

Really if you think it so easy I encourage you to give it a try; be it selling your home privately or actually becoming a REALTOR® yourself.

Cheers all, I’ve said enough. Some heard others, I am sure, did not and never will.

#209 westcoaster on 11.22.12 at 4:25 pm

This seems like ‘much ado about nothing’. When it comes to deciding on a selling price for a property, past selling prices are the least relevent in the equation.

What matters is the price versus nearby properties (both for sale and recently sold), what the housing market is doing (rising/falling), location, condition, etc etc etc. What it sold for two or three years ago really means bugger all.

It is what someone may be willing to pay for it today, over all the other properties in the area, that matters.

#210 bill on 11.22.12 at 4:27 pm

Thanks for your perspective Mr. McMullan.
I too , wonder why this ‘viewpoint’ is not national .
I would encourage you to go canada wide as plainly , there is a need to protect potential buyers from the unscrupulous.

#211 Penny Henny on 11.22.12 at 4:41 pm

ARRRRGOOOOOOOOOS

#212 Ray on 11.22.12 at 4:53 pm

2 year reader, first time poster. Thank you very much for putting a post together on this topic which is the most important real estate topic to me (in conjunction with drying up credit). Open access to MLS would be a pivotal moment in Canadian History — let’s hope it happens. Everyone is watching.

#213 Mike on 11.22.12 at 4:56 pm

Wow

Thanks for this information and post Mr Turner.

I learned one thing from my brief, dark days as a *gulp* sales person. The person with the most information wins the negotiation.

You really struck a nerve with our not so clever DA character. How can this person have seemingly un-limeted time to post toilet paper length posts defending his industry? Oh yeah cuz there’s nothing to do.

I don’t know if this will mean as much as it is intended Mr Turner, but this un-selfish service to others you are providing carries tremendous amounts of good Karma. Good Karma has a ripple effect, like a pebble thrown in the water…

Thank you.

#214 Old Man on 11.22.12 at 4:56 pm

There was a time that a Real Estate listing had full disclosure with all the important details for an informed decision. Now they give you just enough for you to call to get important questions answered, and it is a marketing ploy to rope you into a deal. They are worse than used car salesmen, as bought a used car once in my life with low mileage, and went to Canadian Tire to change the transmission fluid, and guy showed me a bag of parts; said get your ass to Ford quickly, so with 10,000 miles on the dial hit the service door, and the transmission blew up. It was under a full warranty, so paid my $50.00 to have it rebuilt, and they charged Ford about $2,800.00.

#215 Roial1 on 11.22.12 at 4:57 pm

Off topic.

With the signing of the F.I.P.P.A.

our great and glorious “Leader” has created a new meaning for M.P.

It now means “Member, Peoples party of China”.

(Only for Neo-Cons.)

“Manchurian Candidate” any one????

#216 Alex on 11.22.12 at 4:58 pm

DA, before you leave could you respond with your thoughts on my #194 post please.

#217 Tony on 11.22.12 at 5:05 pm

It’s quite simple in Calgary. Prices have been going straight down for the last 5 years while the rest of Canada went straight up. It doesn’t take someone in the same mindset of an Albert Einstein to figure out what will happen to Calgary when the bottom falls out of the rest of Canada as is happening now? Simple Calgary will fall 3 times farther and faster downward than during the 2007 to 2012 years.

#218 Picasso on 11.22.12 at 5:09 pm

Stone’s house was listed at a loss. According to the L.A. Times, Stone bought the 7-bedroom, 8.5-bath home in 2006 for $10.995 million. The Beverly Glen home was first listed in 2006 for $12.5 million, then dropped down to $8.995 million by 2009. According to Real Estalker, the final sale price is $6.575 million.

http://homes.yahoo.com/blogs/spaces/sharon-stone-finally-sells-her-house-big-loss-195534471.html

#219 jess on 11.22.12 at 5:34 pm

free market?

..”Did you buy a computer notebook, computer monitor, or big-screen TV anytime from late 2001 to 2006? If you did, odds are that you paid too much for it because of an international criminal conspiracy to fix the prices of the LCD (liquid crystal display) panels used in these products.

Recently, AU Optronics Corportation—the largest Taiwanese producer and seller of LCD panels—and two of its former top executives were sentenced for their roles in this conspiracy. The company was ordered to pay a $500 million criminal fine, and the executives each received three years in federal prison. AU Optronics is the eighth company convicted as a result of a joint FBI-Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division effort to uncover this worldwide price-fixing conspiracy

http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2012/november/lcd-price-fixing-conspiracy

#220 2centsCdn on 11.22.12 at 5:35 pm

I think we all know the obvious reasons why the real estate industry doesn’t want us to know sales facts and what’s really going on. But I wonder if the other reason is it would make it easy to spot and track flippers. With a property’s past and present owners, sale prices and sale dates all easily brought up on a computer screen …. flippers would be easily spot-able, and track-able. I know many people who have been actively buying, pretty-ing up and flipping properties the last 5-7 years and I think only one couple actually claims the profit above expenses and pays tax on the income.

A few would do the fake “move in” trick where they move their mailing address to the property as they are fixing it up for a few months (to claim its their principle residence to get profits tax free) …. but one person I know says tracking down, taxing and penalizing flippers is rarely done by the government … they don’t have a department for it.

#221 NO FUN VANCOUVER (Most Overpriced Wine on Earth) on 11.22.12 at 5:38 pm

Yes we deserve Zillow in Canada for FREE, along with Skype for Blackberry, Spotify, PopRocks and GoogleVoice. Open this backwater to competition and innovation!

#222 jess on 11.22.12 at 5:39 pm

appalling

WASHINGTON – A former executive of Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS) – a publicly traded company based in Jacksonville, Fla. – pleaded guilty today, admitting her participation in a six-year scheme to prepare and file more than 1 million fraudulently signed and notarized mortgage-related documents with property recorders’ offices throughout the United States…“Homeownership is a huge step for American citizens,” said U.S. Attorney O’Neill. “The process itself is often intimidating and lengthy. Consumers rely heavily on the integrity and due diligence of those serving as representatives throughout this process to secure their investments. When the integrity of this process is compromised, illegally, public confidence is eroded. We must work to assure the public that their investments are sound, worthy, and protected.”

#223 Suede on 11.22.12 at 5:41 pm

From the Fledgling Post…

“2015 target for balanced budget back on: F-meister”

That means increase in TFSA?
http://business.financialpost.com/2011/04/07/harper-to-pledge-tfsa-upgrade/

And Adult fitness tax credit?
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/04/03/cv-election-harper-ottawa.html#

Start saving your pennies.

Wait, government loses 60% on every one of those they make hence its demise.

Could this happen in my lifetime, or am i dreaming? 20k per couple per year of tax free cash – sounds too juicy.

#224 Canadian Watchdog on 11.22.12 at 5:45 pm

@Bill McMullin

What’s your take on foreclosure listings and how the boards offer such information?

#225 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.22.12 at 5:46 pm

#216 Alex on 11.22.12 at 4:58 pm

DA, before you leave could you respond with your thoughts on my #194 post please.

I’m out. I’m done. Too many have made it abundantly clear I need to tend to my business rather than wasting time fighting all the windmills here.

Hopefully Mr. McMullin is still reading this blog and if so I would suggest he might be a more appropriate and recognized, by this audience, authority to best answer that question.

Bill care to respond?

#226 Vamanos Pest on 11.22.12 at 5:57 pm

#96 GX
You’re point would be a good one if it wasn’t so stupid.

Average time in training it takes to go from layperson to:

PILOT (professional)-2 YEARS

MECHANIC -2 years

DOCTOR-GP- 10 years
-specialist 13 years

REALTOR – 3 months (some take 6, either way, I’m sure it was gruelling for you)

So if “knowing what to do with the info” is so difficult, why could I go from flipping burgers to having full credentials for doing it professionally in less than a hockey season?

#227 Elliot on 11.22.12 at 6:02 pm

There’s no reason why the MLS and realtors should be under attack. Every real estate transaction in Canada is registered on a land registry system. You want openness and transparency? Then make the registry offices open their records to the public!

In fact, that would give consumers access to ALL real estate transactions, not just the ones that occur on the MLS.

The truth is, however, that openness and transparency are the true straw man argument, here. The people trying to crack open the MLS aren’t freedom fighters. They’re corporate raiders. Don’t be fooled.

#228 Bob on 11.22.12 at 6:27 pm

};-) aka Devil’s Advocate
Go $%^$ yourself with the “newspaper” Have you heard of the internet. Adapt or die you dinosaur

#229 LazyJason on 11.22.12 at 6:37 pm

};-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.22.12 at 4:03 pm

Commissions though, you should know, are always negotiable. If my time and expense has been minimalized I am most happy to pass along some of that savings to my client.

What a crock DA. Negotiable commissions you say. No problem. So if I negotiate a rate of 1%, and you agree, how many other Agents will bring prospective clients through knowing they will only get 0.5% on the sale?

When moving to Vancouver I got in touch with an agent and after multiple emails I mentioned a Buyers Agreement since I figured I’d use this person should I choose to buy. But after doing the math on the commission structure, unless I bought at a certain amount ($700k +), I’d have to pay her any difference so that she received at least $7,000. For what? I’m picking the properties I want to see (via the trusty MLS system of course) and any new ones that are not yet in the system I get via email notices from her anyway. Other than her driving me to and from places there was no value to the services for the cost incurred.

#230 Smoking Man on 11.22.12 at 6:47 pm

Bunch of students in deep do do for chirping teachers on twitter.
St Margate. De uville in Brampton.

Spokesman for the board. Un appropriate, there will be consiqenses.

So free speech amongst friends is taboo. Hang the teachers I say

Story in Toronto sun

Losses in other words express. A negative opinion about. Athority figure your going down. Is the lessons of the day.

#231 jess on 11.22.12 at 7:03 pm

rmb working group

…”banks justifiably fear it will be a model for more. In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Schneiderman described the potential exposure as “tens of billions of dollars, not just [for] one institution, but [for] quite a few.” That’s no empty threat. This week the Department of Justice, which has been coordinating with Schneiderman’s group, filed suit for more than $600 million against Wells Fargo for alleged misrepresentations made to obtain Federal Housing Administration insurance on its mortgages….

http://retheauditors.com/2012/11/18/my-big-fat-overrated-ceo-mckenna-on-dimon-on-the-keiser-report/

#232 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.22.12 at 7:09 pm

#228Bob on 11.22.12 at 6:27 pm
};-) aka Devil’s Advocate
Go $%^$ yourself with the “newspaper” Have you heard of the internet. Adapt or die you dinosaur

FYI, I was likely using a computer in this business and the internet before you were out of diapers.

#229LazyJason on 11.22.12 at 6:37 pm
};-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.22.12 at 4:03 pm

Commissions though, you should know, are always negotiable. If my time and expense has been minimalized I am most happy to pass along some of that savings to my client.

What a crock DA. Negotiable commissions you say. No problem. So if I negotiate a rate of 1%, and you agree, how many other Agents will bring prospective clients through knowing they will only get 0.5% on the sale?

There is some truth in what you say. However I will NEVER compromise the remuneration I offer another REALTOR for their hard work in bringing to the attention of their clients one of my listings that they complete a purchase of it. If I have a seller who insists I do offer that selling REALTOR something less I promptly terminate the listing and point them in the direction of another who will do as they ask. My biggest asset is the mutual respect and working relationship I have with my fellow REALTORS that they know my reputation as one they can rely upon to do a good deal for all and that is ultimately to the benefit of my clients as I employ the resources of a sales force of 800 strong who I take great pains to ensure remain loyal and eager to do business with me.

When I said I am happy to pass along some of that savings to my clients it was pertaining to the remuneration I earn not that which anyone else might and should earn. Buyers have their own agents who pay them. Although that remuneration generally does come from the proceeds of the sale which is built in by my client and me so that the Buyer’s agent knows they don’t have to waste valuable time fighting for their due pay and can devote that much more time toward doing the best job they can for their client.

You clearly don’t understand how it works. Don’t feel bad few do. Judging by this pathetic blog way too few do.

#233 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.22.12 at 7:16 pm

#228Bob on 11.22.12 at 6:27 pm
};-) aka Devil’s Advocate
Go $%^$ yourself with the “newspaper” Have you heard of the internet. Adapt or die you dinosaur

FYI, I was likely using a computer in this business and the internet before you were out of diapers.

#229LazyJason on 11.22.12 at 6:37 pm
};-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.22.12 at 4:03 pm

Commissions though, you should know, are always negotiable. If my time and expense has been minimalized I am most happy to pass along some of that savings to my client.

What a crock DA. Negotiable commissions you say. No problem. So if I negotiate a rate of 1%, and you agree, how many other Agents will bring prospective clients through knowing they will only get 0.5% on the sale?

There is some truth in what you say. However I will NEVER compromise the remuneration I offer another REALTOR for their hard work in bringing to the attention of their clients one of my listings that they complete a purchase of it. If I have a seller who insists I do offer that selling REALTOR something less I promptly terminate the listing and point them in the direction of another who will do as they ask. My biggest asset is the mutual respect and working relationship I have with my fellow REALTORS that they know my reputation as one they can rely upon to do a good deal for all and that is ultimately to the benefit of my clients as I employ the resources of a sales force of 800 strong who I take great pains to ensure remain loyal and eager to do business with me.

When I said I am happy to pass along some of that savings to my clients it was pertaining to the remuneration I earn not that which anyone else might and should earn. Buyers have their own agents who pay them. Although that remuneration generally does come from the proceeds of the sale which is built in by my client and me so that the Buyer’s agent knows they don’t have to waste valuable time fighting for their due pay and can devote that much more time toward doing the best job they can for their client.

You clearly don’t understand how it works. Don’t feel bad few do. Judging by this pathetic blog way too few do.

#234 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 11.22.12 at 7:42 pm

I’m out. This is as good a Segway to my departure as any I could possibly have conspired. A last ditch attempt at dispelling the myths perpetuated by such malevolent self-interests as this pathetic blog. Apparently and now abundantly clear to me it’s been a futile effort I should have given up on long ago.

I would like to point a finger at the title of this blog and suggest it is not the subjects but the participants which are The Greater Fools. But I must confess it is I who has been the greatest fool of you all. What a pathetic waste of time.

#235 LazyJason on 11.22.12 at 7:44 pm

#232 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.22.12 at 7:09 pm

You clearly don’t understand how it works. Don’t feel bad few do. Judging by this pathetic blog way too few do.

Ok DA, explain “how it works” to all of us simpletons. Please remember to use small words so we can all follow along.

#236 Derek R on 11.22.12 at 7:55 pm

#142 Trevor uk on 11.22.12 at 11:02 am wrote:
Hi, I know you’re a busy man Garth with all the help you offer your Canadian blog dogs , but could you please tell me if you think the England, UK housing market could fall further? Is it time to buy here?

Garth only comments on Canadian and US real estate, Trevor. Which is a pity for the Brits, Aussies and Kiwis who read his blog. But is understandable.

However for anyone who wants to know what’s going on with real estate in the UK, I would recommend the House Price Crash website which has daily comment from numerous contributors. Consensus at the moment is that prices are still rising slightly in London, Wales and Southeast England but falling elsewhere, particularly in Southwest and Northeast England.

#237 bill on 11.22.12 at 7:55 pm

”I’m out. I’m done.” sez da but whats this???
he is back almost immediately . your word is pretty flexible there da.
leave already.

#238 John on 11.22.12 at 7:57 pm

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/couple-sues-realtor-over-sale-house-where-double-200351513.html

buyer beware….of ghosts….. hahahaha

#239 Daisy Mae on 11.22.12 at 8:28 pm

111renters rule: “No one is saying that the realtors have to “give away” their data….”

***********************

It’s their job to research — and it’s their moral obligation to tell potential buyers what they know. Why is everyone making a big issue of this? People can ‘think’ this thing to death….

If they don’t divulge what they know, they’re liars.

#240 Daisy Mae on 11.22.12 at 8:43 pm

Form Man on 11.22.12 at 12:00 pm
#151 DA

“I can honestly say I know of no Canadian entity with as much integrity as The Canadian Real Estate Association.”

****************

Now, that statement, DA, is the height of stupidity.

#241 Alex on 11.22.12 at 9:07 pm

DA, re #225 I am capable of asking Mr. McMullin for his thoughts but it is your opinion and thoughts based on your and inside knowledge of the re cartel that I am interested in hearing. What you say?

#242 Ret on 11.22.12 at 9:08 pm

Well the Taj Mahal it ain’t but I’ve seen just as worse in Hamilton. It’s only $10,000 in an $80,000 neighbourhood.

What would the same home be worth in Winnipeg or in crime ridden parts of Toronto if CMHC wasn’t backstopping the mortgage?

#243 Bill McMullin on 11.22.12 at 9:09 pm

Alex, re your question from post #194,

“…why we consumers do not have access to this or similar sites in other provinces?”

The simple answer is that the ‘ingredients’ are not available. The critical ingredients are data, technology and marketing. The technology behind the system and the investment required to create awareness are significant and the more obvious challenge. Access to data is the critical element for us or anyone like us, since we’ve built the technology and know how to create awareness. Data access shouldn’t be the impediment, but it is.

ViewPoint requires access to property and listing data in bulk, machine-readable format. Only the two Nova Scotia real estate boards provide members with access to their MLS data in machine-readable format. Other boards across Canada don’t allow members this type of access, but ironically, they give MLS data to the likes of CMHC. As for property data, it’s a ‘dog’s breakfast’ across the country with each provincial land registry taking a different approach to data distribution. Some do, some don’t, some for free, some under paid licenses. Nova Scotia, for example, requires a license with a five figure annual fee, but at least it’s available in the right format and they’re easy to work with. The situation in Ontario is scandalous with private company Teranet, having a de-facto monopoly on the publics’ data. Teranet hoards the public data we need for their own gain, selling it to (surprise) real estate boards. They have a circa $40 million dollar deal with Ontario real estate boards who pass the cost on to agents under a universal suffrage model (every agent pays regardless whether or not they use it – and few do). Teranet has never made the data available to anyone like ViewPoint that wants to build a business around giving consumes free access to the data. It’s all good until you say, “I want to give it to taxpayers online”. You wouldn’t be amused if you heard their excuses. My theory is that Teranet and TREB (Toronto Real Estate Board) like things just the way they are with consumers forced to call agents. It amazes me how Teranet avoids public scrutiny, yet they have a 50 year (yes, fifty year) exclusive deal to run Ontario’s land registration system, which comes with the bonus prize of having control over the resulting data. Nice work if you can get it. I bet not one in a hundred homeowners in Ontario know who Teranet is and their relationship with the government. If you read their contract and the Electronic Land Registration Services Act, you’ll get a sense of the intentions of the lawmakers/politicians. Finding the single public copy of the contract was a battle in itself! Bottom line is that the intentions and reality don’t line up. That’s good for Teranet and bad for consumers and innovators but as long as few know or ask questions, the Teranet gravy train rides smoothly down the tracks.

The other arbiters of innovation are the provincial assessment authorities like MPAC. They hoard the assessment data. Again, this is your information but good luck trying to get it in bulk and do innovative things with it. Again, they sell it to banks and other organizations, but only if they agree to use it for internal purposes. Coincidentally, today, I had a Director at New Brunswick Assessment tell me they give their assessment data to MPAC but they won’t give it to innovators like ViewPoint who want to give New Brunswickers access to it.

#244 IM in C on 11.22.12 at 9:31 pm

I once asked a Calgary realtor if I , a prospective home buyer , had to be informed that my potential home purchase was once a grow op. She replied yes,I would have to be informed, but in essence, my ‘being informed’ would not actually entail her , or anyone else, actually telling me!

#245 kam on 11.22.12 at 9:35 pm

};-) aka Devil’s Advocate

1.There is some data pertaining to client’s private information on the MLS™ we are not allowed to share.

If seller’s do not have privacy issue in USA then how come it is such a big issue in Canada?

2. Yes Commissions are Too High but…

Do you think there should be a ceiling in terms of $$$[say $1k/deal] for real estate commission. Standard 5% commission is too high as properties value are increasing and 5% rate was set when average house used to be sold for $150k-200k.Also Real Estate companies share should not be 50% of selling agent’s commission but it should be capped too in terms of $$$ [say $250/deal].

#2 202centsCdn
1. A few would do the fake “move in” trick ) …. tracking down, taxing and penalizing flippers is rarely done by the government … they don’t have a department for it.

I agree with you ..Atleast Govt can create some jobs by hiring people to investigate tax evasions.

#246 daystar on 11.22.12 at 11:12 pm

#234 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.22.12 at 7:42 pm

Sometimes I chill on a negative comment (particularly a long one) before posting and would have axed this one but I couldn’t after reading your 234 of which, I intend to keep you to your word. You just gave me all the motivation I needed and here it is.

I have to hand it to you DA, if anyone can hide their true hypocritical nature under words, leave it to a slick salesman like yourself. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ve said here today:

– newspaper ads have given away to internet advertizing. (of which you conveniently left out internet offers a much more interactive exchange of information opportunity that CREA purposely blocks their own members from accessing, so much for integrity, a model source for you, I’m sure)

– realtors represent sellers, not buyers. Of course, buyers later become sellers you claim to want to build a base with but only after you’ve abused them first since you don’t represent them and wish to milk them for the absolute most they are willing to pay in “appeasment” of your clients wishes that you yourself, profit from. Then you claim this is the best way to build a “client base”.

I have to laugh at what you say here:

“I can honestly say I know of no Canadian entity with as much integrity as The Canadian Real Estate Association. We’re not stupid. We know what consumers want. We know that our best business practice is to give consumers what they want.” – DA

I assume your honesty comes from only knowing of one “association” in your lifetime (ah, maybe you were a tin man before this). Then you tell us you and your association isn’t stupid and know what consumers want. What is that by chance, D.A.? What is it that consumers want? Integrity?

Since you played the Integrity card, let me enlighten. From my life’s survey, 1 in 10 people out there would likely sell the souls of their mothers to the devil if they could profit from it. A full third of humanity is corruptable given the opportunity to do so if they felt that they wouldn’t get caught. A full 2/3rds of the population is gullable to the lies and fronts that one third of us spin to get ahead at everyone elses expense and as such can follow a corrupt design until they know its corrupt and even then, some still follow corrupt teachings, doctrines and disiplines for a while after since humility is a bitter pill and who is it that you represent exactly with such flowing integrity?

Let me break it down for you. The seller. Often, its the seller that wants the most they can get for their digs whether its fair or not. Should the seller get an unreasonable top dollar from false advertizing, withholding information or simply asking more than its worth, they don’t lose sleep over it, thats not their problem, its that of the buyer who is a consumer that you say you represent… but don’t. No, who you represent, a full third of sellers by the time you put them up to it (or quietly tolerate right?), are sellers who want whats more than fair and by that, I mean more than fair to them and less than fair to someone else. By the time you are done convincing another full third with your b.s. and lies with the “everyone else is doing it mantra” including yourself, you’ve convinced 2/3rds of sellers to ask for more than any given property is worth.

If readers question my accusations, why do we have a housing bubble in Canada with values double that of the U.S. and who does D.A. claim to speak for again? He’s been around since before the internet after all. Bubbles don’t grow by accident or raw emotions alone, folks. Ah… what a wonderful example of “integrity” I see before me but all integrity talk aside, what 2/3rds of the general population really wants is fairness. Is that so hard for you to understand D.A.?

Apparently so. you spent 1,000 plus words attacking someone who wishes to more fully represent both the buyer and seller through greater information access with this comment:

#168 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.22.12 at 12:31 pm

Do you have any idea just how many assumptions and lies are in that comment? The only truth that I could find was the last paragraph in which you actually questioned your own assumptions that you used earlier to build lies. Again, has it ever occured to you that the majority of us, buyers and sellers alike, just want a fair price? How can we find the ball park value when all the relevant information already gathered by taxpayers dollars either doesn’t come cheap (you don’t, right?) or in the court case against CREA and the industry as a whole, relevant information doesn’t come at all?

Your entire comment was an attack against someone who wants greater access to information for buyers and sellers alike and thats what irks you most. You don’t want to change that buyer beware model, wouldn’t be “competitive enough” am I right? You focused on assumed motive instead of action without a wit towards motivations of your own. Should Mr. McMullin win his case, the best case scenario is sellers and buyers having a better idea of what the property in question is worth. How can that be bad for the industry? Apparently, for someone with such self professed high integrity as yourself, this is a problem for a commission based income earner and you and readers need not wonder why.

#170 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate

And this comment here… I have to wonder outloud how stupid you really are. Greed, fear, psychology, they play their role on markets but so does affordability. How any realtor can ignore the forces behind affordability (general credit conditions, length of amortizations, interest rates, government regulations through CMHC, OSFI etc., and last but not least our banks influence on the entire system, media, politics and otherwise) i.e. monthly payments and instead focus solely on emotion moving markets is beyond me. They are either stupid (you don’t strike me as stupid other than someone who believes their own bs, ok, your dumb) or they obsfuscate the truth through minimizing, exaggerating and at best, half truths or simple lies… like you.

#176 };-) aka Devil’s Advocate on 11.22.12 at 1:33 pm

Its like your 176 where you speak of client confidentiality as the reason for withholding full disclosure of information like this:

“Often a REALTOR® will pull a land title from the land title office and many of the accompanying documents for you to peruse before making an offer. Those documents cost money – often hundreds of dollars. Often the pulling of those documents provides information which actually causes the prospective buyer not to buy. Again you can get this stuff too.” – DA

Again, another lie, its not “often” that realtors pull information relating to sales history as an example unless they believe it will help them make a sale. I call bs and as for the fluff you spin on how you speak for “we” as in all realtors in general, speak for yourself lest you wish to give them a bad name. Seriously, all I can think of when I read your comments is hypocrite, someone so long in the game they are brainwashed by their own hype. Its common really, not that hard to ignore since it is so common but where you got my true attention is your 168. It reeked of too many lies motivated by a bloated ego refusing to see whats best for the system as a whole, bashing in the way of the dinosaur anyone that challenges a hopelessly flawed and rigged smoke and mirrors system motivated mostly by greed.

#247 bill on 11.23.12 at 12:26 am

great post Daystar.

#248 James Perly on 11.23.12 at 12:21 pm

This was always my pet peeve regarding how the Real Estate Boards game the market:
They always talk about ‘average selling price’ for a given neighbourhood. The public’s understanding is that if this number goes up for their neighbourhood, that their own house must be worth more!
Two things are happening here that have no bearing on your house, but make a huge difference to these prices. The largest are all of these custom houses built on teardowns of little bungalows. You have now taken a little house valued usually around 500k and replaced it with a monster home that sells for 2-3 times that price. This raises the ‘average’, but has no bearing on your house. The second factor is the value of all of the renovations that happen to existing stock (smaller version of the teardown factor). If average selling prices are up 5%, but existing stocks have been improved 5% or more, there is no real price change to a house with no improvements (probably yours). Everyone I know blabs about how prices have improved in their neighbourhood as if it has anything to do with the overall market. Real prices for unimproved lots may actually be falling. My two cents…

#249 Daisy Mae on 11.23.12 at 1:52 pm

#247 bill: “great post Daystar.”

**********************

I’ll say! This post, I’ve saved…

#250 Dude on 11.23.12 at 3:01 pm

Someone should start a class action lawsuit against the MLS.

#251 the guy in the hat on 11.25.12 at 12:53 am

Garth,

I have no idea if you reply to comments on older posts, but I hope you do.

What do you think the chances are that we will see a Zillow-like service in Ontario in the next say, 5 years, as a result of this legal action against the TREB?

Am I wrong to think the floodgates of detailed and accurate information are going to open soon?

#252 Sunday Morning Dump: Bathroom Light - Financial Uproar » Financial Uproar on 11.25.12 at 1:31 pm

[...] If you’re a Canadian with a vested interest in the housing market, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not reading Garth Turner. This week he points out how local real estate boards make sure buyers know very little information about a house’s listing history. [...]