Despite the competition bureau’s demand to make home sale data transparent across the market for real estate agents, buyers and sellers, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), still isn’t completely aligned with the idea.

In a recent move by the supreme court, it was mandated that all information related to properties and home sale data be available on realtors’ password-protected websites. TREB has indicated that this raises concerns related to privacy. The board’s chief executive officer, John DiMichele has indicated that he feels the element of privacy “hasn’t been completely settled yet.”

The issue came to light when TREB received indication that there were brokers’ remarks being included in data and showing up as available to the public. These comments included things such as notes on home residents: “elderly owners, hard of hearing, knock loud” etc. These remarks, understandably, are not typically included in online data being shared, and DiMichele wants to make sure the actions are not continued.

The problem is not new. In early September, not long after the law was enacted requiring the data to be made available, the TREB sent cease and desist letters to some real estate companies indicating it would revoke membership and data access based on their activity. In some cases, TREB was even threatening legal action, should members violate the privileges afforded by the data, or fail to follow TREB regulations and requests.

Others are complaining about the TREB themselves. The board was supposed to grant access to the data to agents and real estate companies, as per request, after the September 18th date. Many people claim that they do not yet have access and that the TREB has done a poor job at fulfilling requests.

Arguing in favour of TREB’s attempts DiMichele said that “not every deal is on TREB’s side,” and that in some cases, not everyone is prepared and ready at the same time, to proceed with data release.

Regardless of what comes of the release of and access to data, as long as there is sensitive information concerned, privacy issues will always be in question. By now, most of us know that in many ways, if it’s online, it never will be private again.

 

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