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Data divide among Ontario realtors continues — ITSO’s province-wide meeting aimed to solve

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Information Technology Systems Ontario (ITSO) held its second province-wide meeting on November 26 to discuss a few options for increasing access to MLS data. The organization warns that a data divide is hurting Ontario realtors.

ITSO, a not-for-profit corporation, was established in 2020 to provide Ontario realtors with seamless access to complete and accurate MLS listing data and technology. 

Allison McLure, executive director of ITSO, says it was a really great meeting. Co-facilitated by Trevor Koot, CEO of the British Columbia Real Estate Associate and Alan Tennant, CEO of the Calgary Real Estate Board, the meeting began with brokers beginning the session by explaining the problem.


The data issue


“The reason we were there is because they’ve been really frustrated having to manage multiple sets of MLS rules and data input forms and different professional standards processes. Also, they don’t have the data they need all in one system,” she mentions. “And it’s hurting them.”

McLure indicated there was concern expressed about it also affecting the reputation of realtors. “Consumers see all information on and VOWs and they can’t understand why realtors don’t have the data they need. That was the problem. And that’s what we’re trying to solve.”


Proposed solutions


Proposed solutions were made through presentations by Corelogic and PropTx. The meeting was held in Toronto with 23 boards from the province represented.

ITSO operates a regional MLS system for 15 of its member real estate associations in the province. McLure says its members have wanted ITSO and the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board to share data for years now. 

“We have had task forces in the past that negotiated with TRREB but those resulted in concerns about a lack of transparency. ITSO hosted the meeting (on Sunday) so that the conversations had by the leaders of the associations would be out in the open and heard by everyone in attendance.”

She says the Corelogic solution would be to make a shared pool of data and centralized database, and then push all that data back into the various MLS systems. So, no one would have to change MLS systems — they would just have all the data in their native system.

McLure added that the PropTx option was for all the boards in the province to start using its blockchain-enabled MLS platform and adopt its rules.


A divide across boards


“Those are the two solutions on the table. We went around the room and had some very honest and open conversations. TRREB made it very clear that they will not share their MLS data with any of the other boards in the province, as they feel that puts their data at risk,” she explains.

“We didn’t necessarily all agree because we feel our MLS systems have protection as well, but we at least now know TRREB’s stance. I don’t think they’ve ever clearly said that before. So, with the Corelogic solution off the table for TRREB that only leaves one viable option if we really want to solve this problem … and that’s everyone switching to PropTx.”

McLure said some of the boards expressed interest in learning more about PropTx while others raised concerns about the platform’s governance. 

“So, I think there was clearly a divide in the room … Each of those boards now has to go back to their board table and have this discussion and see if they want to move to PropTx or if they want to continue kind of status quo and focus on other problems,” she says.

“I think definitely there will be some more people that will move to PropTx if they feel that’s the way the future is going, and I think there’s going to be others that won’t.”


Impact on consumers


For consumers, McLure indicates the current situation is inefficient as it’s forcing some realtors to put listings in three different systems. This ends up costing the real estate industry time and money, which is passed on to consumers.

“There’s also a sense of people wanting to get past the politics that exist and to solve the problem,” she adds.

There are seven MLS systems in Ontario and different data in all of these systems. McLure says realtors need access to all of this MLS data to fulfill their fiduciary duties to their clients, to do their jobs and to appear professional in the eyes of consumers. 


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