Key decision expected in battle over Toronto real estate sales data

A sold sign is shown in front of west-end Toronto homes on April 9, 2017.
A sold sign is shown in front of west-end Toronto homes on April 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

TORONTO — The end might be near for a seven-year battle that has kept the public from easily finding out online what homes in the Greater Toronto Area sold for.

The Supreme Court of Canada says it will announce on Thursday morning whether it will hear an appeal from the Toronto Real Estate Board that would keep TREB’s members from publishing home sales data on their password-protected sites.

READ MORE: Federal appeals court rules Toronto real estate agents must make data public

Lawyers and realtors say if the data is made available online, buyers and sellers will be able to more easily educate themselves on how to price homes and negotiate and won’t have to rely on agents for getting information.

TREB’s fight began in 2011 when the Competition Bureau challenged TREB’s policy preventing the publication of such information, saying it impedes competition and digital innovation.

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TREB, Canada’s largest real estate board which represents more than 50,000 Ontario agents, argued at the Competition Tribunal that posting that data would violate consumer privacy and copyright.

The quasi-judicial tribunal ruled in the bureau’s favour in April 2016 and later the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the tribunal’s ruling, so the board recently headed to the Supreme Court to try to protect the data.