Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Settlement Between the Competition Bureau and CREA is at Hand

It looks like the Canadian Real Estate Association and the Competition Bureau have reached a settlement that will make it possible for vendors to choose from an à la carte menu of services - and pay by the service - when they hire an agent.
That's what the newspapers say, anyway. If any of you hear news, send it my way. We agents seem to be last in the loop, informationwise.
Who knows, maybe CREA, which represents the country's 100,000 agents through their local boards, will open up the MLS system so that anybody can list a property for sale. I don't see it happening, though. People ought to be able to sell their own homes, but I fail to see why they should be allowed to list them on the MLS for a trifling fee. Agents pay dearly for the MLS through annual membership fees to their local boards, monthly fees to their brokers, monthly fees to Centris, the local MLS portal and through our quite expensive errors and omissions insurance. Let's not forget the money we pay for membership in the Organisme d'autoréglementation  du courtage immobilier du Québec (and was there ever a less catchy name for a professional governing body?).
You want to advertise your house on the MLS? OK, how about you pay the same fees I do?
As one astute observer pointed out in a comment to one of the news sites (CBC, maybe?), imagine if the Competition Bureau ruled that car owners had a right to fix their own cars and then, as an extension of that rulling, ordered mechanics to let car owners use their garages, winches, lifts and tools to fix their own cars. Would anyone think that reasonable?
I. Don't. Think. So.
One thing that tends to get lost in this debate is the fact that no agent gets paid until after a property is sold. That's the law here in Quebec. The Brokerage Act, the provincial law that governs the practice of real estate sales in la belle province explicitly forbids it. 
As the law stands, an agent can't take money up front for services to be provided, so I don't see how agents will be permitted to accept payment for listing a property on the MLS.


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