Competition Bureau And Real Estate Services

The federal Competition Bureau of Canada has maintained that the amendments to the laws overseeing the realty services do not offer additional options either to the home buyers or sellers, but arms the real estate agents with a 'blank check' or full authority permitting them to enforce fresh regulations vis-à-vis anti-competition.

It may be noted that earlier this week, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), slackened its regulations to remove the limitations on the least service obligations on the part of the real estate agents and also enable the consumers to utilize the services of an agent just to list their property and deal with particulars independently, inclusive of carrying out dealings with the prospective buyers. Nevertheless, the federal Competition Bureau, which functions as a watchdog, have rejected these amendments straight away on the ground that the modifications in the rules only helps to protect the capability of the Canadian Real Estate Association to enact rules that would only limit the options of the consumers resulting in lessening contests among the realtors and, at the same time, raising their fees.

In a statement, the federal Competition Bureau commissioner Melanie Aitken has observed that the CREA amendments are in no way helpful in getting rid of the prevailing obstructions confronted by the real estate agents who desire to provide an additionally accommodating an assortment of separately priced services. Describing the amendments as a 'move in an incorrect direction', the commissioner said that the modifications in the CREA rules only turn out to be a free rein enabling the Canadian Real Estate Association and the associates of the organization to make new regulations that may have a larger anti-competitive significance.

It may be mentioned that a vast majority, approximately 87 per cent, of the 300 delegates from the different real estate associations and boards from all over Canada who had assembled in Ottawa earlier this week had endorsed the elucidations offered by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) regarding the regulations concerned with the overseeing the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) wherein most of the Canadian residential real estate the deals are made. In fact, the CREA, which comprises over 90,000 real estate dealers, agents and salespersons, only permits its associates or members to list their residential properties for transaction on the MLS listing. The regional real estate boards control these MLS databases or listings.

According to Bill McMullin of Halifax-based ViewPoint Realty, who offers online MLS information to clients through his website, although the terms used in the amendments of the rules governing the residential real estate deals on Monday last provides more suppleness, they do not alter the activities of the real estate agents, brokers and salespersons significantly. This is especially true in the case of realtors who have been offering separate prices for separate services from before. McMullin further said that regulations and their analysis make it amply apparent that once they have made a placement of a listing, a real estate dealer, agent or salesperson only requires being available to the homeowner or seller. In fact, they no longer require being a point of interaction between the prospective buyer and the seller.

McMullin elaborated saying that the recent amendments in the rules governing the real estate deals specifically mention that henceforth the level of service provided by a realtor will depend entirely on whatsoever the homeowner/ seller and the real estate broker, agent or salespersons decide beforehand. At the same time, he expressed his reservations on whether many clients (homeowners or sellers) buyers will be willing to pass through the confusing process to sell his or her residential property independently. From his experience, McMullin said that actually majority of the homeowners do not want to pay fees for the services they obtain each time from a realtor or pay anything in advance, but prefer paying a predetermined fees to the realtor only after his or her residential property is sold. In effect, McMullin pointed to the fact that the homeowners always had the option for paying the fees per service, but to a great extent most of them stayed away from the alternative owing to the erratic costs.

In February this year, the federal Competition Bureau had lodged a submission requesting the Competition Tribunal to end the regulations of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) regarding the implementation of the organization's Multi Listing Services (MLS). Substantiating its claim, the Competition Bureau had stated that the rules of the CREA actually limited the ability of the consumers to sell their residential real estate properties in the absence of a realtor. Early this week, the federal Competition Bureau asserted that it would carry on confronting the regulations enforced by the CREA since it considered them to be anti-competitive. In addition, the Competition Bureau said that it wanted to make sure that the CREA does not pass any regulation that limits the options of the consumers.

Meanwhile, the federal Competitive Bureau commissioner Melanie Aitken has said that they have continually counseled the management of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) that the amendments made enforced by it actually does little to work out their enduring worries regarding the competition. Aitken precisely mentioned that these concerns were directly expressed in directly to the CREA chief only in the previous week. The federal Competitive Bureau commissioner further said that if they are triumphant in challenging the new amendments enforced by the CREA recently, it would certainly lower the real estate business fees since it would enable the residential real estate consumers to select the services they prefer.

In fact, the federal Competitive Bureau has said that it was prepared to pull out its application from the Competitive Bureau, it has asserted to the Canadian Real Estate Association that it will not take any such initiative till such time when it is certain that the CREA will be enforcing the anti-competitive rules on any of its members or agents who utilizes the services of the association.

On the other hand, Alyson Fair, the spokeswoman for the Canadian Real Estate Association, has stated that the amended regulations would be enforced at the earliest. At the same time, she said that the CREA intends to contest the charges leveled against the organization and will soon issue a reaction to the allegations against it.

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