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TREB threatens legal action for realtors violating sales data rules

TORONTO — A lawyer representing the Toronto Real Estate Board says it is considering whether to fight for adjustments to a Competition Tribunal order that enabled the publication of Greater Toronto Area home sales data.

TREB lawyer Brian Facey says the board representing 50,000 GTA realtors has yet to decide if it will try to modify the order that came into effect when the Supreme Court refused to hear a case dealing with the data’s online publication last week.

The Supreme Court’s dismissal of the case forced TREB to allow the data’s publication, but only through password-protected webpages called virtual office websites (VOWs) that realtors allow clients to access.

In the wake of the dismissal, real estate companies rushed to post the data online under password protections, but a few posted the numbers outside of VOWs.

A statement from TREB says members who don’t comply with the order will see legal action taken against them, their TREB membership revoked and their access to the Multiple Listing Service database, where sales data is compiled when deals closed, removed.

Facey says TREB has already asked some non-complying websites to stop violating the ruling, but is refusing to say whether the board has taken legal action against any already.

Online listing site Zoocasa posted the information shortly after the ruling with no password protections, but later made the numbers accessible only through a VOW.

Rival listing site Bungol had the data on its webpage long before the Supreme Court ruling and has not put the numbers behind a password.

Facey, who insisted on answering questions by email, said TREB will continue to educate members on how to comply with the ruling and will review language in its realtor and listing agreements to ensure buyer and seller privacy concerns are addressed.

He says that review is not meant to limit data from VOWs, but is instead meant to ensure buyers and sellers know their rights and realtors have a clear understanding of the order.

The Canadian Press

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