I am the founder, CEO and Realtor behind ViewPoint Realty, the operator of the VOW (virtual office website) at ViewPoint.ca.  We presently offer service only in Nova Scotia, although ViewPoint is a member of real estate boards outside of Nova Scotia, including the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).  We can’t operate under our chosen business model outside of Nova Scotia because of arbitrary “efficiency limits” imposed by real estate boards such as TREB. 

The VOW we operate in Nova Scotia is the kind that TREB suggests violates privacy laws and puts consumers and Realtors in harms way. That is patently false. We don’t break any rules nor have we been the cause of any harm to any participant in the marketplace. TREB’s PR campaign is dangerously misleading and not founded in fact.  Further, TREB’s opposition to the Competition Bureau’s request to provide its members with efficient access to the member’s own MLS system is also baseless and futile.  All of the information that TREB claims they are trying to or must protect is already rightfully in the hands of, used and distributed by its members to their customers and clients every day. Nobody has been hurt or will be hurt in the event this same information is more efficiently accessed, used and distributed.

There are only two kinds of information in this country, public information and private information.  TREB is suggesting that there is a semi-private or semi-public class of information – private information that Realtors can disclose, just not online.  When it comes to privacy law, the medium used for disclosure is irrelevant.

Since January 2010, ViewPoint has delivered more than 67,000,000 pages of property and listing information to real estate consumers (more than 1.6 million visitors), including much of the information that TREB says could cause the harm.  Nova Scotia real estate consumers who register on ViewPoint can see pending solds, price changes and sold prices, along with a host of other useful information. There has not been a single reported incident of crime or issue resulting from the availability of such information.  I have confirmed this with Halifax Police. We don’t make available information such as owner names and alarm codes because such information, on the balance of convenience, benefit and protection, does not warrant its disclosure.

TREB is attempting to mislead the public and Realtors that the bureau is trying to force TREB to publish this information. That is simply not the case. It is interesting that TREB is now expending considerable resources to stand up for consumers when their mandate is to service members. It’s up to members to decide what and how to communicate with consumers,  not TREB. TREB has taken it upon itself to try and dictate the business practices of member brokerages. Speaking as one brokerage, I don’t want or need their advice.

The real issue here is TREB’s irrational fear that more information in the hands of consumers will reduce or negate the need for Realtors. If they would only look to the reality in Nova Scotia, they could see that nothing is further from the truth. As a member of TREB, we have tried countless times to share experience-based facts and insights with them, those gained from our experience in Nova Scotia. We also had a solution that we felt would have avoided the costly Competition Bureau litigation.  Unfortunately, TREB chose to press the ignore button, which on Nov. 9, 2011 led us to “occupy TREB” in a last ditch effort to get our questions answered and be heard. After a lot of scrambling at TREB headquarters, TREB’s director of public and government relations, Vaughn Palmer, agreed to see us. The only two things that the meeting revealed were TREB’s narrow-mindedness and the palatial building paid for in part by the more than $6,000 in fees we paid to join the board.

Bill McMullin

CEO, Realtor

ViewPoint.ca

Bedford, N.S.

29 COMMENTS

  1. I think that as a final commentary on this discussion it should be noted that there are two different categories of consumers that are exposed to the kind of site that is being discussed here: buyers and sellers. Consequently are we to believe that both embrace the Viewpoint concept equally?

    From a sellers perspective are they going to think that they are somehow advantaged by having the list price in one corner of the listing information while the property assessment value gets similar attention in an opposite corner – particularly in the absence of a REALTOR explanation that puts property assessment values in a proper context, as on a higher priced home they can be as much as 200K less?

    What value is there to a seller of a more expensive home in a neighbourhood, to have an average price range for their area displayed beneath their properties listing information – particularly if that average price range is substantially less, and a REALTOR hasn't had an opportunity to put this information all in context?

    What advantage is there to a seller to have market time to date always displayed in relation to their properties listing, as perhaps buyer objections have been rectified, the price has been reduced, a longer required closing date has prevented a sale, or the market time is consistent with the area – all of which might not be realized by a viewer that hasn't spoken with a REALTOR first?

  2. Dear Mr. McMullin, I take great offense to your statement "most realtors don't advertise". Advertising was not the issue. What most of us did not like or agree with was paying YOU to advertise our own listings, we like to have a choice in how we spend OUR advertising dollars. So when most of us did not agree to pay you for our own listings to be published (however you wished on your website) YOU posted our listings on your website and right next to our listings you posted the photos and contact information of the few realtors who did agree to pay you.

    Also, it is interesting to note the above comment concerning referral fees to you. I received the following information, apparently posted on your website in early 2012: This is a direct quote: Viewpoint Referral Fee: "Even if you have used another realtor in the past and plan to use that person's services again once you're closer to making a move, we receive a referral fee when we assist you in the early stages." As a Nova Scotia realtor, I did not ever agree to giving you a referral fee, and I have not spoken to another Nova Scotia realtor who says they agreed to this either.

    Also posted on your site was the following: To keep Viewpoint site FREE to the general public No Cost for agent and MUST use exclusively a Viewpoint agent to purchase property. The person who contacted me about the above was unsure if he could use my services after viewing this and thought because they viewed your site they were then obligated to also use your services.

    I am a realtor but I am also a home owner and as a home owner I DO NOT want the price I paid for my home given to the general public willy nilly, published for all and anyone at anytime. As a Tax paying citizen I think it is only right that the public should be allowed to vote on this matter before it is allowed to become public on the world wide web.

    You say that when it comes to privacy law, the medium used for disclosure is irrelevant… well maybe it should not be irrelevant. Maybe there should be checks and balances.

    You also say: "Nobody has been hurt or will be hurt in the event this same information is more efficiently accessed, used and distributed." Really, how can you or anyone at this point be SO SURE of this.

    The announcement from Service Nova Scotia is a case in point. Recently, members of NSAR's Executive Office, some staff and members of the Government Relations Committee met with representatives from Service Nova Scotia to discuss property assessments and access to sales information and now the province is proposing Nova Scotia property owners have access to the above for "more clarity, improved efficiency and greater transparency to real estate transactions". The Act would allow publishing real estate sales prices and related information (what information do they deem related?) from deed transfer tax affidavits. They further go on to say that "Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada that does not allow government to publish property sales prices." And that "this amendment will change that."

    "The Nova Scotia Real Estate Appraisers Association strongly supports public disclosure of property selling prices and believes that giving all Nova Scotians free and open access to this information will REDUCE FRAUD, INCREASE THE EFFICIENCY OF REAL ESTATE MARKETS, AND IMPROVE THE FAIRNESS, UNDERSTANDING AND TRANSPARENCY". To what, do I ask have they based the above on….it is my understanding that we have far less fraud than other provinces in Canada, what proof do they have that it will increase efficiency of the real estate market… The changes are expected to be implemented in time for the assessments in 2013. Here is another idea that I believe was entered into too quickly. New is not always improved. And how about the public being informed and involved before it is written?

    The above is In my opinion…

    • NS REALTOR has made some interesting comments.

      It has been my understanding that a REALTOR cannot take a referral in relation to someone that is but a Customer. The following clause can be found on REALTOR LINK:

      "(iii) provide the names of relevant real estate service providers, but the Brokerage will not recommend any particular service providers to the Buyer."

      The above clause can be found on a: Buyer Customer Status Acknowledgement Form. If a Broker can't recommend any particular service provider, how could a Broker seek a referral fee in relation to a Customer of the Brokerage – as a REALTOR would be no less a service provider?

  3. With all due respect Bill, it is misleading to suggest that because sales information is publicly available, anyone, even a brokerage has the right to collect and disseminate it or make it searchable to just anyone who wants it when it does not come from a publicly available source and you know that TREB’s sales prices are not publicly available/searchable.

    It’s not a privacy issue Bill? I dare you to request of every VP buyer ‘customer’ their address and price paid for their house and let’s see how far you get. Not only would the privacy commissioner be down your neck with the first complaint for being intrusive, you’ll get few if any answers.

    But why not test it right here. All on this site who agree its not private, do you dare provide this information on REM?

    In Ontario Bill, one can access the sales history of a property online via MPAC under these rules:

    1)They must have an account and that account is gained via a property assessment notice. In other words Bill, a non-owner of a property has no MPAC online access to this information. In addition, it is not possible for the person to lie about their name unless they’re impersonating a property owner and have acquired’s their assigned access code and password.

    2)MPAC’s search is limited to within the homeowner’s municipality. Ergo, Joe Thief from Toronto cannot scour for sales information in Brampton, Markham, Oakville or Ottawa. Nor can the non-resident scam artist who uses a local proxy server.

    3)The search is limited to 100 per year and a print out of 24 not 100 at a time by any one person using multiple ID’s and numerous email accounts.

    4)Anyone wanting more must attend at the municipality’s land registry office and pay for the data or via a paid account online through Teranet. Not a likely source for those who wish to collect lists, build their own database for personal gain or just be nosy.

    5)That the sales information on the MLS® System is public information is patently false because that data does not fall under public domain until it is registered with land registry.

    6)Further, not all sales prices can be obtained publicly because apparently a buyer may pay the land transfer tax prior to closing and suppress the purchase price. If this is so, the intent to hand out sales information to a ‘customer’ whether a valid one or not would appear to violate this specific choice of privacy. And yes, I’m also pointing to REALTORS who freely hand out sales prices without knowing to whom it’s being given.

    7)Just because Jow Blow wants to know how much his ex-wife’s paid for new house doesn’t mean he has the unequivocal right to the information. FIPPA Secs: 10(1), 17(1a,c), 21(1f, 2) – address unjustified, malicious, nuisance reasons.

    From the Fed. Privacy Commission’s web site – Case 2009-002: REALTOR publishes sales price expressed only as a percentage without buyer consent. It was ruled that this information is personal despite it being publicly available because it was not collected from a publicly available source. And

    Case 2005-303: Concerning the disclosure of sales representative statistics, The Fed. Privacy Asst. Commissioner ruled that this is private information and published without consent.

    Finally, http://www.canlii.org docket PO-2860; PA06-306 is a most interesting appeal defended by TERANET and Ontario’s Privacy Commission. It involves far more than bulk access to to land registry data, personal information, overriding public interest or privacy – it also spoke to Teranet’s and the province’s deprivation of a revenue stream along with the diminishing of its value when its information can be retrieved and used to establish competing models. TREB, are you in this position?

    If Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner is not interested in the CB’s action against TREB she ought to be or her office’s case here would have been fought for nought.

    • PED, Alan, Carolyne et al,

      There are many compelling points being made on both sides of the issue but one thing is very clear – ViewPoint operates within all written rules, including legislation, board policies and bylaw. If we didn't, one would think that after 28 months in operation, more than 2 million visits to the site and delivering nearly 80 million pages of property and listing information that we would be shut down by now.

    • As you can see here the owner of the property portal viewpoint.ca is now realizing his assertions in both his letter and subsequent follow up have been reviewed, vested and proved to be unsustainable arguments.
      Now what happens if a new informative wesite launches in NS, starting with Halifax, that informs the public of their rights and case law that would support legal action against the owners of this portal. Assuming any PENDING SALES DATA has been released without personal contact with the recieving person(like PED has shown in the PIPEDIA case)
      Unfortunatly the real estate board supplying this portal with the data could NOT be held liable as the owners of this portal assumed the liability when they became licensed.

      I think the homeowners and homebuyers in Halifax need a site to inform them of their rights asap. Maybe there is a company out there that can launch such a site and get all the Halifax REALTORS to simple link to from their own websites. Maybe a simple press release that addresses privacy on pending sales could go out to the local media. I am sure the privacy commissioner would welcome an opportunity to comment on such topics in the press.

      This is not the U.S.

    • In Nova Scotia, both real estate boards require that realtors enter the sold price in the MLS once a P&S agreement becomes unconditional. Once entered, the sold price becomes available immediately to all realtors. All realtors are able to access, use and share this information with their customers ('customer' as defined under the Nova Scotia Real Estate Trading Act). The disclosure of this and other property or transaction related MLS information is not a violation of any law, privacy or otherwise, because vendors consent in writing to such when they sign the seller brokerage or mere posting services agreement. Case 2009-02 cited above involves a different circumstance, specifically, the realtor was advertising/publishing the information. Realtors lawfully share sold prices and statistics with their customers every day. If ViewPoint is violating the law, so too is every other realtor in Canada. Suggesting that using the Internet to communicate sold prices is unlawful whereas doing it by hand is not, is absurd.

      It is interesting to note that realtor and consumer satisfaction with ViewPoint are negatively correlated.

    • Don't muddy the water Bill.

      The issue with that case is not that it was advertised but that the information was deemed private and the REALTOR had no right to disclose it publicly. That is after all what you base your argument around – that the information is publicly available and therefore is not private. Yes, REALTORS in Ontario also have the right to use the sales price in the pursuit of their client's home pricing and have been granted that right via sales agreements. The REALTOR that was found in violation of the consumer's privacy was also granted the same right you now use for purposes of obfuscation. What is plainly obvious is that regardless of a REALTOR's right to use the information, it does not trump the fact that the information is

      PRIVATE! Just as all the other case I cited showed it is PRIVATE!

      Choose an argument and defend it without sashaying all over the place.

    • PED's response here shows an acute awareness of what is going on regarding some significant issues involving real estate. PED's letter not only constitutes an excellent resource for those trying to understand all the issues, it's also of the kind of quality that we should be able to expect from the highest levels of leadership in organized real estate – whether it was to be reproduced in whole or in part. So, I would question, why it is we can't go on the CREA website and see some of the references that PED has provided here?

      As far as CREA being up to date, I would offer the following quote that is currently available on their website:

      "A REALTOR® will use various tools to try and find properties that meet your specifications. The most important is a local Board’s MLS® (Multiple Listing Service®) System."

    • Agree Alan M. PED is the type of volunteer CREA needs. Unfortunately voices like hers are often not heard until too late.

      I think we all need to remember, a Pending Sale price is NOT a SOLD PRICE. That is why the government only recognizes the SOLD PRICE as one registered upon closing.

      I have yet to see a listing contract or buyers agreement that specifically allows a Pending Sale price to be disclosed. There are hundreds to thousands of cases, where a Firm Pending Sale price was not accepted by the courts. There is not a single case where a SOLD closed price was not accepted as fact by a court or the government itself for that matter.

      Actually, the sooner the Privacy Commissioner advises CREA that Firm Pending Sale Prices disclosed in a private contractual agreement between to consenting parties, should never be disclosed without a REALTOR-Client relationship in place, the better.

      and….Viewpoint.ca??? ;)

    • Again, ViewPoint operates in compliance with all written rules (regulations, policy, bylaw). If you don't like the rules, change the rules, and we'll follow them. Organized real estate as a whole has exploited the rules to their advantage for years and there's nothing wrong with that.

    • Thank you Alan M and Eyes On The Net for your kind endorsements.

      If I ever volunteered for CREA, I've no doubt I'd only be invited in the one time because I'm sure to rankle the ranks by suggesting they dismantle the organization sooner rather than later or change their mandate to being a PAC lobbying for constitutionally enshrined housing rights, the creation of a singular uniform educational and licensing standard for REALTORS across Canada without CREA having any oversight, authority or input whatsoever for anything to do with brokerage operations or the MLS Systems.

    • What a cop-out response Bill. Change the rules? I'll gladly rise to your false sense of oppression.

      The Competition Bureau and those who believe as you do wish to change the rules and it would appear that whenever a board or association changes or even suggest changes to said rules, you and your supporters run to the CB and cry foul.

      Hypocrite!

      I now introduce Bill McMullen, Lawrence Dale, Melaine Aitkens and privacy commissioners Jennifer Stoddart and Ann Cavoukian to be first hand witnesses of how Bill and his advocates trample all over the rights of ordinary Canadians in pursuit of their own agendas.

      Go to http://www.greaterfool.ca/2012/05/01/death-by-con… Read post #77. The blog's heading is Death By Condo dated May 1 in case the link is wonky.

      Post 77's user, posting under a pseudonym, provided a link which they were able to obtain by agreeing to be a customer of an operation such as yours Bill. You’ll note that upon opening the document it lists all of TREB’s area sales (as of date unknown). Now search in Google for the very first MLS number you see and let us know how long it took you to find the address.

      Tell me Bill, why did that user need to know all of these sales prices from all of TREB’s municipal areas? When that user signed up with that provider they were advised within the TOS that the information is for private use only; is copyrighted; owned by the TREB and its members and may not be published either in whole or in part for any reason without the consent of the copyright owner. (re-read the ownership claim Bill)

      The user couldn't care less about the TOS and probably didn't even read it, just clicked agree and off they went.

      This is but one internet user who freely distributed same for the sole reason of discussing the housing market. I'm sure you would agree Bill that the world wide web is far too big to police for copyright infringements never mind invasion of privacy.

      That user then created a screen name to re-post the sales, so guess what Bill? Their identity is unknown to the provider of the information who now has no way of knowing whose ‘Customer’ account should be discounted for violating that agreement.

      Where are the rights of the Canadians Bill, whose private information has now been circulated without their knowledge?

      That is what you, Dale and Aitken are blind to and it is what you are not being honest about to all Canadians when you do not provide all the facts.

  4. Bill, to be fair, I think we should review the definitions of some of the key words in this discussion, and where they should be applied: arbitrary, efficiently and dangerously.

    One definition of arbitrary is: "based on or determined by individual preference or convenience rather than by necessity or the intrinsic nature of something " Consequently the question becomes, who is being arbitrary and who is acting dangerously in the interests of efficiency?

    I should first mention that I have no authority to speak on behalf of TREB.

    We must consider the impetus behind requiring real estate professionals, REALTORS to be members of their local boards and or associations, and for them to use passwords to access our internal databases. As I understand things the main reason for doing this was to ensure that only licensed practitioners had access to the kind of information one needs to offer professional real estate services, plus privacy considerations. The aforesaid is necessary in keeping with the objective of having a regulated Real Estate Industry.

    TREB's insistence on limiting the arbitrary furnishing of certain key statistical information would be entirely consistent with the objectives of a regulated industry. What you seem to define as efficient, is the removal of a boots-on-the-ground REALTOR from the path of someone seeking significant real estate data or statistics, and in the course of doing so giving "your customers" unlimited access to data or statistics in a way that doesn't take up any of your time. While a consumer could call a REALTOR and try to solicit similar information and perhaps mislead regarding their identity, a REALTOR who would use their time efficiently would qualify any such prospect and wouldn't likely just feed them any amount of information arbitrarily.

    If FSBO companies have unrestricted access to all important Real Estate statistics or data, it creates a dangerous situation whereby those that aren't licensed to trade in Real Estate will be more tempted to cross lines they shouldn't cross, because they are now armed with information that they didn't previously have easy access to.

    I recently read the results of our local regulatory agencies review and processing of consumer complaints against licensed Real Estate practitioners. It astonishes me to see what people will do even when they know they are accountable to a body that can remove you from your livelihood. It further astonished me that such a high percentage of the offenders were actually the managing brokers of the brokerage involved in the complaint, and as we know the managing brokers are responsible for supervising their sales people. I can’t begin to imagine what an unlicensed person might do.

    Bill, the only protection that was available to consumers to protect them from the dangerous practice of unlicensed people practicing in the sale of Real Estate, were the controls that we had previously in place for restricting access to significant data or statistics. While sold prices may be available in other places, besides our internal databases, a selling price alone has little value when it can't be correlated to a good text description.

    I feel that the net effect of some of the changes to our industry, will be a competitive atmosphere that is vile to the point of resulting in more consumer complaints that will overburden those agencies responsible for dealing with them – not to mention an increase in the unregulated trading in Real Estate by those who profit when providing non-professional services.

  5. I think Mr. McMullin mis-counted. Aren't there actually three types of information? Public information, Private Information and 'Mis-information'?
    I have to admit, its getting tough to tell them apart in this argument.

  6. Mr. McMullin wrote: "Answer: A person registers by providing their name and email address, agrees to the terms and conditions (becoming a ‘customer’ of the brokerage), "

    Please clarify. Face to face REALTORS(r) have great difficulty apparently convincing the public to sign a BBA; so you are saying that perfect strangers, mere "visitors" to your site are agreeing to be your "Customer" – are we once again dealing with the semantics of the English language or is the definition of "customer" the same definition appropriated to customer vs client ???

    1 – If "your customer" legitimately signs on having read your terms and conditions, inquires about a property, wants to see the property, wants to purchase the property, and then decides to use his own REALTOR(r) with whom he has a "Client" relationship via a BBA, not a "customer status," then is he required to pay you for your services? or the REALTOR(r) to whom you refer?

    We no longer have "First Introduction," so is it safe to assume you could not get paid, using that status of the situation? How do referral REALTORS(r) feel when they know that their listing's buyer came through you? Have you elicited the response of colleagues? done any polls?

    2 – Since you are in NS, for example, and let's say the house is in Ontario, do you then refer that inquiry (who is a Customer apparently – not a Client) to an ON REALTOR(r)? who then perhaps has the responsibility of guaranteeing he gets paid by having to set up his own BBA?

    If so, how do you determine WHICH REALTOR(r) to refer to? the listing brokerage? and let them decide which rep gets the referral, or the listing rep personally?

    Then that rep/brokerage pays you a referral fee? (If this is so, is it disclosed any place in your terms and conditions and on your site and other promo? so that the public understands this?)

    And once again what happens if the would-be buyer goes out and signs a real live BBA re that particular property or any other? Who stands to get paid? and how?

    Just trying to figure it all out, not tryiing to be argumentative.

    Thank you
    Carolyne L http://www.Carolyne.com

  7. More for Rob and Bill, So you understand why we need rules to protect our clients;
    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/It-just-destro
    http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/new-bat
    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php

    I could go on and on. And lets not forget all the personal information that is contained in that mls data about the REALTORS themselves. The incomes are easily calculated from a simple data pull into an excel spreadsheet and sort.

  8. Everyone,

    Viewpoint.ca in Halifax effectively forced non-viewpoint REALTORS to pay to get the leads their OWN listing generated on viewpoint.ca as a way of funding this startup.

    So, they use YOUR listing to generate leads then say pay us for these leads or we will sell them to someone else. ( TREB this is headed your way.)

    Now that viewpoint has 7 million page visits a month, they no longer need that REALTOR cash so they have dropped even that option and after having all those REALTORS who were foolish enough to pay Bill McMullin money for their OWN leads and support his website, they have now been CUT OUT!

    This is not about a brokerage model but instead a way to CON trusting REALTORS into using a marketing platform that is designed to replace the REALTOR in the real estate transaction.

    Bill, also knows that this VOW battle is to get cash through the CB because when the DDF goes live the limitation rules in the TREB VOW no longer exist. TREB has already voted to participate in the DDF so that cannot now be stopped without massive legal action taking place against TREB. I suspect Bill and Dale already have plans on that.

    BTW, Zillow in the U.S. has hit the 1 Billion Valuation Mark and they publicly state they are currently getting only 1% of the potential revenues they seek.

  9. Hi PED,

    In regards to your comment pertaining to VOW's, below:

    "Producing members, even though their listings would appear in the VOW, would then hopefully turn to the vow and pay to have their name/services advertised to compete for their own listings and against those who pay for placement as well as other advertisers."

    PED, if I understand what you're saying, a successful VOW could charge as much as the market will bear or REALTOR would pay, for special advertising exposure on such a site. Consequently consumers would be pointed more towards those business models – broker or REALTOR – that have paid for the privilege of special exposure. If part of the enticement for paying for special advertising exposure related to the opportunity to garner a referral from a VOW, the opportunity for a referral would decrease as the number of REALTORS increased – consequently there would be a disincentive to allow more than a certain number to advertise.

    Money talks, and business is business, but if an influential VOW promotes fewer business models than REALTOR.ca, it would be a strange turn of events to have the Canadian Competition Bureau wading in to support a situation where any part of the outcome would result in fewer business models having their interests advanced, in a significant way, in the name of competition!

    REALTOR.ca has become a lightening-rod for attracting unwanted attention to professional Real Estate – largely because it made brokerage sites and individual REALTOR sites secondary, but also because it obscured the public view of that vast sea of competition that makes up professional Real Estate. That said, REALTOR.ca doesn't promote one business model over another – except by default, in terms of the number of listings a broker or individual practitioner may have.

    Hopefully each operator of a VOW will make it clear how their Virtual Office Website will work, so there won't be any misunderstandings or fears.

  10. Gee thanks Bill for all your great advice!!! If hope every agent acts like you!!!

    I wonder how many teens are looking for a quiet place to party at next weekend. You know the kind of home that is vacant, located on a quiet street, maybe backing onto a body of water or green space. It used to be so hard to find those places to crash until viewpoint.ca went live.

    We supplied a phony email address and now can find lots of things from viewpoint.ca. 377 Glen Arbour Way seems to be vacant and meet our criteria. Next we need to source some Flat Panel T.Vs to feed our party habits. Hey Bill could you add that search function to your site. It would save us a few seconds.

    BTW Bill, why do so many of your sellers not have alarms on their homes. We can zoom right in and find the ones who are "alarmless". It's AWESOMEEEE!!!!

    and…My Dad is opening a new business in Halifax but he has a long standing competitor on the street. He was worried but now knows the guy has a big mortgage after he moved into his new house. Your stats showed my Dad the guys probably increased his mortgage $500,000. Great my Dad knows this guy must be over extended and should provide no competition.

    Bill, That is one great site.

    Thanks

    • Darn those pesky teenagers! They're just always breaking into houses to host the best parties. And boy oh boy now they can go through a registration process on an obscure real estate website to commit these fun and exciting crimes rather then just google search and link to one of the hundred thousand results that pop up from personal realtor websites, franchisors, and third party sites.

      And wow I can zoom in on all the walls of a house on viewpoint!? My oh my what a new and exciting technology. Maybe someday other websites will have these virtual tours available to them.

      But good for your dad. Glad he had the businesses savy to figure out what "the guys" are doing to his competitor's mortgage. I would personally rather get the information on who "the guys" are along with the mortgage info, since it is public record, but again why not go register with an indistinct real estate website to find it all. The time I waste sifting through the information that viewpoint was meant to provide will be made up now that I can do all my break and enter and businesses competitor research in the same place. And then I can host the best party on the lake after!

      Its ridiculous comments like the one above that have created such a huge public backlash against TREB. Quit with the fearmongering and focus on your value proposition. Explain why traditional realtors are important. They provide most of the same services as sites like Viewpoint so explain why TREB's way is better. Tell us why we will sell our homes quicker or for more money under that system. Why will I be able to make it through a complicated buying process smoothly with a traditional Realtor's guidance? I think its probably true but TREB isn't explaining it to me. That is how TREB will get support and if they can't do that or if they insist on undermining my ability to intelligently evaluate how the internet is used then they don't deserve support.

    • Rob,

      The REALTOR Code of Ethics specifically prevents one CREA member from implying in any way they are superior to ANY other CREA member. Since MLS information is strictly held proprietary data of that MLS association, members are expressly prevented from using facts that could show why the consumer should choose one member over another.

      As to Crime, Due Diligence is something every REALTOR undertakes when signing a Listing Agreement. Do you really think the open access realtor.ca is not already being used by criminals for dozens of types of crimes. Look no further than more difficult paths criminals take versus a quick anonymous search on realtor.ca… http://abcnews.go.com/US/stolen-car-registrationshttp://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/local/couhttp://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20120424/NEWS01

      Sure Rob, no need to take simple steps to protect our clients.

    • See its comments like Robs that just make me shake my head. Ill tell you what Rob you go and search for that home yourself and let us know how you make out. Or you can use your brain, sit down with a Realtor and he will explain the step by step process of buying or selling a home and they will explain how they protect you through the course of selling Real-estate.

  11. What is it exactly that TREB members are so afraid of ? Or are they just so brainwashed by the TREB executives who are trying to save their jobs at our expense.

    Peter.

  12. TO ALAN M's post – and – article above: McMullin

    Could I ask genuine questions, please… (not trying to be arguementative or unreasonable)?

    Is Mr. McMullin a member of TREB as a full-member or as an access member? through his local Board appropriated? or somehow independently so?

    Either way, does a REALTOR(r) in another provincial real estate Board, (presumeably paying CREA dues? or is the CREA requirement different in different provinces? – that one must have local Board membership, in order to belong to CREA? – that in actual fact the arrangement would have been through his local Board [or not]?), and if so, then all the members of that local Board could do the same thing, if they desire?

    For example, as an independent real estate agent (non-REALTOR(r)) status – meaning no local Board membership, it is my understanding that one cannot have TREB Board membership; must pay CREA & OREA dues either direct or through local Board. Can someone clarify, please. Thank you.

    Of course this topic would be front and centre for those out of area newbies wanting TREB membership, full or otherwise, one would think. I know I am not the only one confused about out of province listings and that relationship to TREB (or for that matter other local Boards).

    So, to recap… can any salesman or broker join TREB, no matter if they have membership in a local Board where they are domiciled, or not? or must that membership, regardless of its definition, be permissioned only through that local Board per se, therefore sanctioned by a written Board agreement with TREB? therefore, begging the question – can ONLY a "REALTOR(r)" be a TREB member, now? or has that changed?

    Was TREB accused of locking out salespeople and brokers from other provinces within the CB mess? Do other provinces permit Toronto-based folks from joining their Boards? if not, why not? would that not be fair game? and if plausible would the arrangement have to be made through the home-domiciled Board, or one on one directly?

    It is all so confusing currently.

    Sincerely,
    Carolyne L http://www.Carolyne.com

    • Carolyne, Viewpoint is a member of RECO and via that is also a member of TREB. One only needs a business address really to satisfy RECO and Viewpoint's is in your old neck of the woods – Brampton.

      I presume Mr. McMullin saw an opportunity to be able to access all of TREB's Ontario based practitioners' listings for the same type of operation in Toronto that he has in Nova Scotia. The avenue of opportunity is there, so can't blame him for taking advantage of that. A member need not contribute any listings or be a part of any sale in order to be able to create a VOW only pay board dues. Producing members, even though their listings would appear in the VOW, would then hopefully turn to the vow and pay to have their name/services advertised to compete for their own listings and against those who pay for placement as well as other advertisers.

      Yet this doubling up plus of boots on the ground member expenses is supposed to somehow be less expensive for the general public.

      When all is said and done hundreds if not thousands of VOWS will be circulating the same listings and listing/sales information while competing for advertising revenue and not a boot on the ground or even anyone with RE experience is needed.

      Now that's cool, no?

      They all won't survive of course and my understanding is that profits if any are slim to none – at least not in net corporate income anyway.

      Now if only one could open a virtual dealership to all car manufacturers without having even one car on the lot, that would be priceless.

    • I'm going to add one last thing that finally needs to be said.

      It's far easier to launch a challenge against a board for their sales pricing data and claim their privacy argument is a smokescreen than to launch a lawsuit against Ontario's Land Registry System because I suspect they already know that's been tried several times and each time denial to that bulk information was successfully defended by Ontario's Privacy Commissioner.

      Brokers. Sales representatives, members of the public, if you don't know this then you should find out why the cases were ruled as they were: http://www.canlii.org

      Any smokescreens as far as I'm concerned come from the very people who scream same.

  13. I'm finding Mr. McMullin's letter a little short on details.

    Perhaps he would explain what the " … arbitrary efficiency limits…" are that TREB is seeking to impose on his VOW?

    Perhaps Mr. McMullin could explain how: "… This same information is more efficiently accessed used and distributed."?

    Perhaps Mr. Mullin would explain what is relevent to Privacy Law in terms of how he discloses information?

    Perhaps Mr. McMullin would explain the process for registering on Viewpoint?

    Perhaps Mr. McMullin would explain his business model, in terms of whether Viewpoint is a brokerage that services consumers beyond the information that is conveyed on his site or not, and if not, how does Viewpoint primarilly generate revenue?

    I assume that Mr. McMullin desired to have the public and Real Estate professionals understand the full essence of his VOW, and concerns. I'm not getting it from this post.

    • Alan M, here are the answers to your questions:

      Question: "Perhaps he would explain what the ” … arbitrary efficiency limits…” are that TREB is seeking to impose on his VOW?"

      Answer: TREB allows members to mechanically access and display only certain information elements. Key information elements such as sold prices must be manually accessed and distributed. That is an arbitrary decision which limits how efficiently a brokerage can service its customers.

      Question: "Perhaps Mr. Mullin would explain what is relevent to Privacy Law in terms of how he discloses information?"

      Answer: All of the information we make available to consumers is either public information or MLS information. In the case of the MLS information, we have the same rights to access and use it as any other brokerage or realtor. The fact that we do it more efficiently, electronically online, is irrelevant.

      Question: "Perhaps Mr. McMullin would explain the process for registering on Viewpoint?"

      Answer: A person registers by providing their name and email address, agrees to the terms and conditions (becoming a 'customer' of the brokerage), then verifying their email address. Registration is required before a consumer can access MLS information (other than information available via IDX). We don't verify the identification or intent of the customer because there is no requirement to do so. Yes, it is very easy to register and lie. It is similarly easy to call a realtor and lie.

      "Perhaps Mr. McMullin would explain his business model, in terms of whether Viewpoint is a brokerage that services consumers beyond the information that is conveyed on his site or not, and if not, how does Viewpoint primarilly generate revenue?"

      Answer: Our business model involves a number of revenue sources. Our primary source of revenue is currently brokerage services (listing and selling activities). We will do about 200 transactions in 2012. We also generate revenue from advertising. We do not sell advertising to realtors. We experimented with that concept in 2010/2011 but discovered that most realtors don't advertise. We have established and are establishing affiliate relationships with brokerages outside of Halifax (but within Nova Scotia) who want to take advantage of the site and its ability to attract and service consumers.

      For those that are anxious about or disagree with our model and intentions, our mission is simply to build a business satisfying consumers information needs. The response to our site clearly shows that consumes like what we provide and how we provide it.

      Bill

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