The Canadian Real Estate Association is launching a pilot project with technology company Openn Offers that will display real-time tracking of offers on Realtor.ca listings.
Patrick Pichette, vice president of Realtor.ca, says the pilot project is a first in Canada.
“Since making the announcement, we have heard a tremendous amount of excitement from members, boards and associations and consumers from across the country,” he says.
“We’re still in the early stages of setting up the pilot project . . . Openn Offers is simply a digital version of the current offer and acceptance process that we use in Canada. The platform provides buyers and sellers and their realtors with near real-time feedback on where any offer may stand on the property,” says Pichette.
“Openn Offers allows the realtors to facilitate the negotiation process like they always have but through software. It enables transparency and equality for consumers while providing realtors with an efficient solution to manage offers. And it really shines when agents use it to handle multiple-offer scenarios,” he says.
Once offers come in and are being managed in the software, elements of the offer details will become visible on Realtor.ca. Pichette says it is not an auction platform and doesn’t change the current offer and acceptance of buying and selling real estate. It simply automates the current process. Unlike an auction, any written offer can still be subject to conditions within an agreed-upon due diligence period. Or a back and forth negotiation on the price between interested buyers and the sellers can still take place.
Pichette said anyone making an offer will still need to complete and sign a fully binding contract facilitated by a realtor, as they do now. Any prospective buyer will need to have their identity checked and verified. This means buyers and sellers will have confidence that each offer they see is linked to a legally binding contract.
“The goal is to empower the consumer with more transparent information surrounding real estate transactions and to reinforce the legitimacy of the offer process, especially in times of multiple offers scenarios,” he says. “This pilot will help further demonstrate realtors’ commitment to protecting public and client interest with a fair and informed real estate market while also ensuring transactions are conducted in a way that strikes a balance between the interests of buyers and sellers.
“Ultimately this tool will help keep realtors at the heart of the transaction.” Pichette says for real estate agents participating in the pilot, two things will determine how much information from the offer process is displayed on Realtor.ca. One is instructions from their seller and the other is local regulatory requirements. Openn Offers comes with back-end controls in the system to allow the displayed information that is suitable for different provinces across the country. Some jurisdictions are committed to disclosing more information than others.
Openn Negotiation Limited is an Australian property technology company. The company says the Openn Offers platform facilitates a negotiation process, featuring streamlined digital contracting and automated communication tools, enhancing a property transaction. The solution provides buyers with real-time feedback through their device on how much competition exists and where their price stands in the negotiation, resulting in an optimal sales outcome, the company says.
Eric Bryant, Openn’s director of operations for North America, says the concept began about six years ago in Australia. The North American expansion came in September 2021, right after the company went public on the Australian stock exchange.
“We are working with CREA and Realtor.ca to bring the product into their ecosystem . . . It would put a ‘make an offer’ button on Realtor.ca on the listings so that participants can come in directly through the Realtor.ca listing and participate in the process,” says Bryant.
“And it would supply the listing agent and the buyer agent with dashboards that would be powered by the data coming from Realtor.ca . . . This product we’re bringing to Canada is an agent’s tool. So it doesn’t perform without agents on both sides of the equation.”
He says, “The tool was built to be able to provide the industry with an alternative to some of the products that were coming into the fray that were not including real estate agents as it was kind of going as more peer to peer. This is an agent to agent tool, an industry tool, and it’s built on three pillars of success. That is transparency, equality and efficiency.”
According to Bryant, Openn is also working with local real estate boards to provide them with a product similar to the Realtor.ca product, which they could put in a realtor’s back-end dashboard so they can set up their negotiations to be done in Openn as well.
The company is currently operating in Australia, New Zealand, U.S. and Canada.
Bryant said Openn sees itself growing to other countries as the process is widely accepted and is recognized as one of the leading products in this space.
“We’re having the type of success that would indicate to us that opening up new markets is probably a prudent thing to do,” he says.
Mario Toneguzzi is a contributing writer for REM. He has more than 40 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald, covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer for several national publications and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named in 2021 as one of the Top 10 Business Journalists in the World by PR News – the only Canadian to make the list.