DECONSTRUCTING MELANIE AITKEN'S CLAIM AGAINST TREB

By
Real Estate Agent with sales representative : Keller Williams Experience Realty


Reproduced with the permission of the author Penny Elizabeth Dutkowski, Broker. Setting the Bar for Higher Performance Standards, Quality of Service and Client Satisfaction. HomeLife/Bayview Realty Inc., Brokerage (905) 889-2200

 

 

Well, now that I've read the anti-competitive claim made by Melanie Aitken against TREB, a claim which by the way includes charges that are lifted almost verbatim from the 2005 U.S Department of Justice's allegations against the National Association of RealtorsI've come away with the distinct impression that Ms. Aitken has no idea that there are distinct differences between the Canadian and U.S systems. Her filing suggests TREB purposefully denies innovation because it will not allow all manner of brokerage businesses and that it withholds information such as sold amounts in this effort to block discount brokerages and "non-traditional models."

These allegations in my opinion, demonstrate she lacks understanding of the board, privacy laws, the Real Estate Business and Brokers Act, Advertising and Money Laundering Laws and therefore is completely misleading the public. Further, while choosing to keep his name out of it, Aitken has specifically taken up the cause once again for Lawrence Dale of Realtysellers and Fraser Beach fame. Dale is obviously a smarter lawyer - he's twice now convinced her to fight his cause with the public's purse. My rebuttal starts with Dale's interest in this. 

Anyone familiar with his name rallied against the CREA last year when Aitken used Dale, his failed Realtysellers and Fraser Beach, as her poster child for those bullied by the industry. 
Dale's Realtysellers was a discount brokerage set up to offer cheap listing fees and buyer refunds to the public. It failed and he blamed the CREA, TREB and everyone but himself. What largely missed being published in the media  was that Realtysellers was not living up to its obligations to refund buyers the rebates they signed on for. This is found in the tribunal filings.
To set the record straight, brokerages receive their commission upon the closing of a property within 10 days and from which the rebate is to be paid. There were, during this fight, a number of buyers still waiting for their cheques 4 years after the company's demise and some buyers did not get them within the time frame promised. One cannot expect a business to succeed when this happens. The money came in why was it not paid out as promised?

I know this for a fact because you see, I worked for Realtysellers and when I began having a great deal of difficulty getting rebates for buyer clients, I stayed around only long enough to ensure they received it then promptly left. 

Aitken charges that TREB's rules restrict competition and that because of this many won't join the board. What she fails to mention is that those that do join agree to abide by the rules. Dale knew this before hand yet when he started Fraser Beach he disregarded those rules and then claimed foul. This is why he lost his case. In addition, TREB's by-laws and suggested changes are periodically laid in front of all of its members for feedback then put to a vote. It is its members that democratically determine the acceptability of its rules by majority vote. 

I know of no law or ruling that is won by minority vote or has an opt-out clause. The non-conservative half of Canada doesn't get to ignore the laws brought down by the Conservatives, what makes Dale and all those who break the rules special?

The filing asks that TREB be forced to allow brokerages who operate virtual office sites to pull data from the MLS® database that it presently cannot. Aitken states that NAR lost this challenge and as a result brokerages can offer more information to buyers and sellers specifically sold statistics. The argument is that since the consumer will do most of the work these brokerages would take less in fees. Well they ought to since the consumer is doing some of the work.

First off, sold statistics are useless to buyers and sellers unless they are in real time and current. Given the laws of this land, sale prices do not become public domain until the sale has closed and registered in land titles. This is often months from the date of the sale. Therefore they cannot be made available to just any Tom, Dick, Harry, nosey neighbour or fake Nigerian Priest with a computer, the ability to create a false name and fraud on their mind. So nothing is gained by this.

Secondly, I think by inserting buyers into the claim, it is my contention that this filing is a smoke screen intended for sellers since it is they - specifically private sellers who stand to benefit. If Dale thinks that the majority of these sellers will not be FSBO's who can browse his site for free then plant a for sale by owner sign on their lawn, he is mistaken. But let's test the money making option.

This was one of his seller plans when he started Realtysellers: a $600 fee for private sellers to list on the MLS System® - They were not knocking down his door were they? Then he revived the company last year and offered a free listing on the MLS System®. Well that must have made him a ton of nothing and might explain why his web site no longer offers free listings.

If on the other hand he plans on charging users to browse his database I have some very serious issues with this because he is selling information I have gathered. But it gets worse. Aitken is asking that the tribunal direct TREB to implement the resources and facilities necessary to allow for VOWs.

In other words, my TREB fees are to be used to pay for and upkeep the functionality for his type of web based system. 

Can this get any more ludicrous? Yes it does.

The U.S MLS System® is quite different to Canada's in that while they have realtor.com as the public's site to obtain listings, it is not populated by all listings filtered through the countless MLS® jurisdictions and thus not the one-stop shop for available properties. Aitken tells us that it is inefficient for consumers to have to gather their data by searching numerous sites. This is a crock! One can be on space lab and find any MLS® listed property anywhere in Canada on realtor.ca. This is not the case in the U.S.

If she really wants to load up the consumer with information, when might we expect to see her demand that fsbo companies make their sale prices, days on market and all else available to us 'traditional' REALTORS® and Mr. Dale's VOW so the consumer can be better and fully informed of the near 100% of listings and sales not just the 75% passing through the MLS system?

It is not sufficient to her that the consent agreement of 2010 allowed private sellers to list on the MLS System. A system whose integrity and correctness we as REALTORS® are required to maintain. She insisted that discount brokerages be allowed to list fsbos at flat fees of zero, $109 or anything they want.

Yet here we are with these brokerages in Ottawa and Hamilton taking listings in towns and cities hundreds of miles away. Is it likely that for $109 or Realtyseller's zero fee, they are actually upholding the requirement to verify the listing data, do a face to face verification of the seller, ensure the sale is reported to the system and the proper price at that? 

Mr. and Mrs. VOW user are you sure the comparative data you are basing your list price on is correct? Because I know you don't want to pay for title search verification.

The answer to all is likely no!

It is they who screamed the loudest and for whom you fought Ms. Aitken and it is some of them who are not doing as required by law. Yet it is they for whom you fight again...not the 'traditional' REALTOR® like myself who strives to uphold the very laws, by-laws and ethics some of these 'innovative brokerages' tread upon.

I don't have a problem with legitimate buyers and sellers seeing days on market, sold listings, sales price versus listing price and the number of times a property was relisted the reasons for which I will address in my next post, but I do have a problem with this witchhunt.

Visit Penny's blog :
http://itssoldyouremoving.blogspot.com

 

Posted by

 Mike Montague

  

Barrie Power of Sale Listings

Barrie home values

 

 
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Rainmaker
449,221
Malcolm Johnston
Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario - Trenton, ON
Trenton Real Estate

I really don't think Ms. Aitken has a leg to stand on in her case against TREB, however, we should fight this vigilantly and put this to rest for once and for all. I think she just has a need to be viewed as a knight in shining armour and just picked a popular target.

Jun 01, 2011 02:56 AM #1
Rainmaker
194,782
Mike Montague
sales representative : Keller Williams Experience Realty - Barrie, ON
"Who Moves You?"

Its a shame that our government repeatedly gives lip service to the notion that “information” is the vital core of our economic future while a renegade branch of same discredits any such value by forcing industries to give it away free with no regard for the time, effort, knowledge and expense those who produce the information have invested. 

Evidently Melanie Aitken has little regard for intellectual property law or her own governments privacy regulations. I think Canadian Realtors have had about enough and I expect we will be seeking vindication for the damages she continues to bring upon the industry and its members.

 

Jun 01, 2011 05:00 AM #2
Rainmaker
1,504,069
Brian Madigan
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto) - Toronto, ON
LL.B., Broker

Mike,

Truly, there is only one way to put a stop to a bully. Folding, crying and going home, like CREA did recently, just encourages the pursuit.

Hopefully, TREB will mount full and complete defence which means fighting this to the bitter end. It's over when the Supreme Court of Canada says it's over.

Brian

Jun 01, 2011 01:25 PM #3
Rainmaker
1,036,503
Kathy Clulow
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage - Uxbridge, ON
Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results

Mike - while TREB is the current target it is incumbent on all boards to up the ante to mount a proper legal defense to this (as Brian says all the way to the supreme court if needed). I read a letter the other day that suggested we prepare and file a case against her. 

"Gather every public comment Aitken has ever made regarding our industry, .............. then put together a solid counter suit against  both the Competition Bureau and  Aitken."

Jun 17, 2011 04:29 AM #4
Anonymous
JimRizvi

I too was an employee , salesrep at Realty Sellers and can know all about the uppaid commissions and the buyer rebates. It was disgusting.

Sep 07, 2011 02:02 AM #5
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Rainmaker
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Mike Montague

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