“It was always envisioned to be available for anyone who wanted to participate.”

By Kathy Bevan

Some key members of the national Industry Leaders Group – which includes Canada’s largest real estate companies – are exploring the possibility of creating a national IDX broker data exchange system to share MLS listings with each others’ websites. Royal LePage, Century 21 Canada and Re/Max Ontario-Atlantic Canada are leading the discussions, which have involved CREA, local boards and brokerages, as well as conversations with Coldwell Banker Canada and Re/Max of Western Canada.

“Presuming this moves ahead, it will be a permission-based model whereby we’ll go out to our network’s members and ask, would you like to participate?” says Phil Soper, president and CEO of Brookfield Real Estate Services, Royal LePage’s parent company. “If the broker opts in, we’ll manage the process and on royallepage.ca you’ll see that broker’s listings plus all the listings of other brokerages in that trading area which are participating in the local IDX. It’s simply a roll-up of local IDXs.”

Soper says the concept being discussed is a natural evolution of the reciprocity decisions already being made by brokerages and boards across the country. Soper cites as an example the IDX data exchange system pioneered by the London and St. Thomas Real Estate Board several years ago.  “Our brokers have been doing this for years, with a great deal of satisfaction, through their local IDX,” says Soper. “That’s what we’re talking about here – a national IDX.”  

He says that sharing of corporate listings won’t be limited to the largest real estate firms. “It was always envisioned to be available for anyone who wanted to participate,” he says, adding that “a lot of people have had input outside of the largest national companies – we’ve simply been a steering group.”

The next steps involve further discussions with CREA. The group is hoping that they can populate their shared listings service by using the existing data feeds that local boards send to CREA to appear on the national association’s Realtor.ca website. Another option would be to work with individual boards across the country. The shared listings service would be based on the MLS rules already in place at the local board level and would not entail any additional cost to participants.

Regarding negotiations currently underway between CREA and the Competition Bureau to resolve the bureau’s concerns about MLS access rules, Soper says any shared listings system the real estate companies develop will be in full compliance with whatever resolution is finally reached.

“If the Competition Bureau’s actions result in some fundamental changes to the way organized real estate operates in Canada, we are organized real estate, so we will comply and change, along with everyone else in the industry,” he says.

Posted: 2009-12-16 08:21:34

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