Monday, March 25, 2013

Real Estate info war: Rogers enters the scene

On Saturday we talked about realtors who are stepping up to the plate to provide information to potential buyers of real estate from the restricted (yet massive) data based held by the various real estate boards.

This comes after we talked about an example of that secret information which was released (and subsequently removed) on a local real estate discussion board.

Access to that sort of secret information has been a topic of considerable tension over the past few years as realtors and real estate associations have fought hard to maintain their almost exclusive access to the rich Multiple Listing Service data.

That battle even found it's way to Ottawa’s Competition Bureau.

And when the real estate associations reached an agreement with the Competition Bureau, the end result did not give the public direct access to the MLS or systems. But it did open up the possibility for change.

Industry watchers have long yearned for a competitor to appear in Canada like Zillow has in the United States. Zillow provides a massive amount of information to the American public. Info which, in Canada, is kept under wraps by the real estate associations.

But now that Canadian competitor may be on the horizon as Roger's has just announced it plans on entering the real estate business:
Rogers Communications is expanding into the real estate business.

The mobile and cable giant has applied to become a licensed real estate brokerage right across Canada and is aiming to relaunch its five-year-old website in May as a unique, one-stop-shopping site for homebuyers.

It’s aimed at going far beyond U.S.-based property listing services such as Zillow and Trulia which have revolutionized house hunting south of the border by providing critical data that can help potential buyers assess the value of a property from the comfort of their home computer.

While those sites link to licensed realtors who buy spots on the sites, Rogers intends to go a big step beyond that: Zoocasa will make sure its online directory of agents are vetted, knowledgeable realtors with a proven track record of making sales and providing superior customer service, said Zoocasa president Carolyn Beatty.

Beatty stressed the new site isn’t meant to cut realtors out of the home-buying equation but, instead, ensure that consumers now looking for houses online can go the next step digitally as well, finding a realtor they can check out through the site and feel they can trust to finish the deal.

Buyers will flock to wherever they can access the most information in the easiest way possible.

As we saw in the real estate board screenshots that were the subject of last week's controversy, the cabel has a massive, accessible database already in place.  Much of that information is restricted in a vain attempt to protect the integrity of the frankenumber HPI.

The question now is can the real estate boards move quickly enough to establish themselves as the "go-to" source of information by the average Canadian looking for critical data from the comfort of their home computer.

They have the leg up, but will they change their secretive ways fast enough?

It's going to be an interesting time as this story plays out in the months ahead.


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  1. Information and knowledge is power. This is why the RE cartel wants to keep buyers in the dark.

  2. I'll believe it when Rogers runs a television commercial during an NHL hockey game that they have comprehensive listings of Canadian houses in foreclosure. And I mean 'comprehensive'. Not sugar coated puffery, but houses that lending institutions don't want because they aren't occupied by tenants or owners.

    Sorry for sounding cynical, but we live in a Brave New World. With Rogers jumping at this bait, it's very likely that Immigration will be tied to buying these foreclosed homes. (a theme that's growing worldwide) Beware unintended consequences.

    1. Don't hold your breathe. Rogers is old school and part of the establishment of Canadian business. They will give a good service but won't cross the line where public policy interests are at stake and that means that "foreclosure" data will most likely be withheld. It is in everyones interests that we not create the exact same conditions that led to a US housing debacle. Transparency is good but we do not need ugly nakedness to enjoy the benefits.

  3. Actually, this sounds like a censored version of realty link. How can Rogers "vet" realtors without censoring listings? What would the criteria be to be "recommended" as a knowledgeable realtor? I bet realtors would need to pay Rogers a fee and things will go smoothly, but if they didn't, they wouldn't get their stamp of approval. As far as providing the public information throughout Canada, all they can do is tap into Land Titles and upload information. Anyone can have access to an abundant amount of information if they have a BC Online account. This whole thing about a secret real estate conspiracy to withhold stats is so stupid

    1. So, are you chipping in the $100 account opening fee for Whisperer? If no, I would still back Rogers for providing zillow-like info for free.

    2. Rogers will never provide zillow-like info in Canada. Wishful thinking. It will be a glorified

    3. I think that the public should also be privy, no demand that it should be public information of how much my neighbor paid for his house, how much he paid as a down payment, how he acquired this down payment, and if he is indeed paying his mortgage on time each month. This will help me assess the market and where prices will be going in the future. Actually, I believe this should all be disclosed by the sellers and realtors (or real estate cartel). It is time that the public be informed of the real stats.

      By the way, do you think that Rogers can also get my neighbors income tax return?

  4. Whisperer, you can get a BC Online Account and provide info for anyone who may want it. You can even get how many mortgages and charges are on the property currently, and historical stats as well. Then compile all the information, put it online, and allow the public to view as they wish. You can do that you know. No one is stopping you. Maybe you should before Rogers does this with some kind of evil intent for financial gain.

  5. Could someone please share where one can open BC Online Account? Would the account provide the same information as what buying realor would be seeing?

    I am a buyer and all i get from my realtor is some info in the feature sheet. I wouldn't mind spending 100 to have a better information to analyse the price I should offer if I find a property that I like, and to understand the historical stats.

  6. what you need is your realtor to give you access to MLSexchange

    This is the website that show all info on any home in BC, with historic data on the listing prices, listing price modifications, tax assessment and sold prices. With this info, buyer can easily understand the psychology of specific sellers.

    Once you do some research on this site, it is actually scary to see how many proprieties has been flip and re-flip multiple times in the last 3 years purely based on speculation.

    Vancouver realty is poisoned

  7. That is also the same hosting company that runs the TREB site.

    What irks me more than anything else is that the REBs didn't even choose a Canadian provider... all the data is hosted out of the United States.