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President's Toronto Star Column

TREB President's Column as it appears in the Toronto Star.


TREB Is Standing Up For The Privacy Rights Of Homeowners

May 25, 2012 -- Recently there has been coverage in the media regarding the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and its fight to protect consumers in the dispute with the Canadian Competition Bureau.   However there are a few points that continue to cause confusion, and should be clarified.

While some material on MLS® is publicly available through REALTOR.ca, TREB safeguards personal information as guided by privacy legislation. Abandoning these privacy safeguards of MLS® threatens the privacy of GTA consumers.

To better understand how Ontarians feel about the Competition Bureau’s actions to force TREB to abandon the safeguards in the MLS® System, TREB commissioned an Angus Reid poll.

The results of this poll could not be clearer. As part of the poll, TREB asked the question “Do you feel that, as much as possible, personal information (such as your name or the final sale price of your home) disclosed during the buying or selling of a home should be kept confidential by your REALTOR®?”

75% of Ontarians answered yes. Only 25% answered no. The overwhelming majority of Ontarians want their personal information kept confidential.

This sensitive private information includes a seller’s name (coupled with their address), negotiated sale price, sensitive property access information, financial information (including mortgage details), and property floor plans. If the Competition Bureau is successful, this information could become publicly available on the Internet, easily accessible by anyone.

The Competition Bureau is taking actions that would force TREB to abandon privacy safeguards for the entire MLS® System. This would create a “one stop shop” for abuses of private information. Consumers have not consented to this, and it would violate privacy laws.

Indeed this is the age of the Internet which is why TREB took steps to provide REALTOR® clients with much richer information but in a safe and responsible way. This is called a Virtual Office Website (VOW). TREB believes this policy meets the consumers’ need for more information.

A VOW service allows REALTORS® to offer consumers much richer information than that seen on REALTOR.ca. This password-protected website displays MLS® listing data while providing consumers with the benefit of a REALTOR® Member's knowledge and accountability, and without compromising MLS® accuracy or consumers’ privacy rights.

Ontarians want their personal information kept confidential. REALTORS® subscribe to a Code of Ethics and have an obligation to protect consumers’ personal information.

This is a complex issue. That’s why TREB launched the website ProtectYourPrivacy.ca—to build awareness of the consequences of the Canadian Competition Bureau’s actions to dismantle the privacy safeguards of the MLS® System. REALTORS® have access to personal and sensitive information and an obligation to protect it.

 


Follow TREB on www.twitter.com/TREBhome, www.Facebook.com/TorontoRealEstateBoard and www.youtube.com/TREBChannel

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Archive
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 2011
October 4 Realtors Care Foundation supports shelter-based organizations
September 16 Buyers beware in real estate purchases, too
August 20 Termites are a hidden problem
June 17 Ford Needs to Follow Through on Election Promise
June 12 TREB Moving Ahead With New Technology
June 1 Realtor Quest Was Huge Success
April 30 Buying a Condo Posses Some Unique Queries
April 8 Search for a Home Can Be Challenging
March 25 Parking red tape should be streamlined
March 4 Toronto needed to clarify parking rules
February 26 Some home improvements will pay off big
February 11 Taking steps towards homeownership
January 28 Taking steps towards the repeal of the land transfer tax
 2010
December 3 Misconceptions about the HST
October 2 Clearing up HST confusion
September 10 TREB: Energy efficiency for all homes, new and old
August 13 Making sense of housing statistics
August 6 TREB: Save HST with re-sale housing
July 30 TREB: Housing options are as diverse as the city we live in
July 23 TREB: Realtor's access to databases can assist with home search
July 16 There's no Investment Like a Home
July 9 HST will not affect resale homes
July 2 TREB: HST will not affect resale homes
Jun. 25 Celebrate Diversity during Pride Week
Jun. 4 Mayoral debate highlight of realtor conference
May 21 Set budget for moving expenses
May 14 Spring buyers boost GTA home sales
Apr. 23 Each local market has distinct character
Apr. 9 Important to understand terminology
Mar. 26 REALTORS® continue to educate themselves
Mar. 12 Housing sales typically heat up in spring market
Mar. 5 Careful renos can increase home value
Feb. 26 Some simple steps to energy efficiency
Feb. 19 REALTORS® step up to help Haiti
Feb. 12 Some encouraging news and numbers
Feb. 5 Action on Land Transfer Tax could offset the HST
Jan. 22 Year will see listings rise, price growth moderate
Jan. 8 Number of benefits to LEED-certified condos
 2009
December 18
Jan. 1, 2010
Steady flow of newcomers buoys demand for sales / Immigration helps drive housing market
December 11 REALTORS® routinely give back to their community
December 4 REALTORS® have skills to help with Rental Needs
November 27 REALTORS® have many resources
November 20 Sales still hot despite cooler weather
November 13 HST will raise cost of living, buying homes
November 9 GTA Real Estate Market Soaring