Due to some confusion on the Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA) recent consent agreement with the Competition Bureau, a few points need to be made to help clarify what the actual agreement means to ongoing operations and application of the MLS®.
The agreement does not give the public direct access to list their home on the MLS® system or on REALTOR.ca — something the Competition Bureau never asked for. MLS® remains a member-to-member service for REALTORS®. Home sellers can hire a brokerage to list and sell their property and then negotiate the level of service they want from their REALTOR®, including the level of commission or fee they want to pay for that service.
The public also must recognize jurisdictional requirements still prevail with this new consent agreement. Under the Manitoba’s Real Estate Brokers Act, in order to sell real estate involving the solicitation and obligation of a listing agreement, the brokerage must be licenced in this province. The Manitoba Securities Commission Real Estate registrar, Bill Baluk, recently made this quite clear, when he requested the removal of a Winnipeg property from REALTOR.ca through an Ottawa-based company that is not licenced in Manitoba.
It is important to understand MLS® is a co-operative marketing system used exclusively by Canada’s real estate boards and associations to ensure maximum exposure of properties for sale. Consumers certainly have other options other than MLS® if they wish to advertise their property, such as websites and print publications.
The agreement allows for the "mere posting" of a listing. A member of WinnipegREALTORS® can list your home on your local MLS® system, but sellers are not required to purchase any further services unless they so desire. However, the agreement does not require brokerages to change their business models, which means that each brokerage may choose which services they want to offer to sellers, whether that means a traditional full-service approach or another model.
REALTORS® who take mere postings must:
• Offer compensation for the co-operative selling of the property.
• Be available to provide professional advice and counsel to the seller on all offers and counteroffers unless otherwise directed by the seller in writing.
• Take responsibility for the accuracy of the information submitted for inclusion in a board’s MLS® system.
• Be clear in letting other REALTORS® know the seller has reserved the right to sell property himself/herself.
Moreover, listing REALTORS® who take mere postings must also comply with all board/association rules for the efficient operation of a board’s MLS® system (for example, be responsible for reporting sales, etc.). As well, all mere-posting business models must comply with the applicable provincial real estate legislation and any other provincial or federal legislation.
There must be an offer of compensation from the listing brokerage to the co-operating brokerage (the brokerage that brings the eventual buyer to the listing); and that offer of compensation must be of an amount greater than zero.
Finally, the agreement maintains the responsibility of WinnipegREALTORS® members to ensure the accuracy of MLS® listing content. That means that, even if you work with a member to list your home, but purchase no further services, he or she must still ensure that the listing information is accurate and up-to-date, including reporting of a sale.
As always, a real estate consumer should understand exactly what services they are contracting for and how they will be represented in the purchase or sale.
"We are full-time professionals who offer a variety of real estate services with different business models for varying levels of fees,” said WinnipegREALTORS® president Claude Davis. “Our member REALTORS® will continue to do what we do best and that is to help people succeed in making one of the most important and biggest financial decisions of their lives.”