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ITSO held a meeting open to all the leaders of real estate boards and associations in Ontario on May 19 to discuss how to increase access to MLS data for Ontario realtors. 

This meeting was long-overdue, and ITSO was honoured to host the meeting attended by 140 people representing 28 of the 34 real estate boards and associations in Ontario who took time from their busy schedules to participate. 


“Collaboration and cooperation are the way forward — with both ITSO member associations and non-members.”


The open discussion portion of the meeting was both informative and productive. There was a great deal of positive feedback that recognized the need to increase access to MLS data. We appreciate the collaboration, engagement, and input that everyone provided and their willingness to engage in the pro-competitive discussion to try and reduce barriers to accessing data and eliminating artificial geographical boundaries. 

While the meeting did not result in any definitive solutions for how to move forward towards our shared goal of province-wide access to all the MLS data in Ontario, there was agreement that the conversation must continue. There was a significant portion of attendees that stressed the importance of realtors having access to all the MLS data within their jurisdiction at a minimum.


Realtors’ fiduciary duties impacted by limited MLS data access


The need for realtors to be able to access all the MLS listings throughout the province has never been greater due to a trend of inner-provincial migration led by more transient populations. This is compounded by consumers often having more access to MLS listing information through and VOWs than realtors can access on their local systems. This not only reflects poorly on the competency of all realtors but also affects realtors’ ability to fulfill their fiduciary duties to their clients. 

Collaboration and cooperation are the way forward — with both ITSO member associations and non-members. 

ITSO is not, and will not be, a barrier to increasing access to MLS data. We are and always have been open to any arrangement with non-member boards and associations to share MLS data in a fair and equitable manner. 

ITSO willingly participates in these agreements with non-member associations as our member associations, and we know that our value does not come from acting as gatekeepers to MLS data. Instead, it lies in maintaining high standards of data quality and accuracy and requiring cooperation and professionalism when using our system through the enforcement of MLS rules and the Realtor Code. This is what has resulted in ITSO’s MLS system and the standard of service when using our system being unmatched in the industry. 


ITSO’s post-meeting survey reflects support for continued discussions


In our post-meeting survey, 78 per cent of the respondents thought the meeting was excellent or good, and 70 per cent indicated they would be supportive of ITSO hosting another meeting to continue the discussion on increasing access to MLS data. 

From the ITSO perspective, while we believe this initial meeting was a success, it was just the first step in the right direction, and there is more work still to be done. ITSO remains committed to working towards a collaborative and inclusive solution. 

One of the associations at the meeting suggested that each board/association take the issue of increasing access to MLS data to their next regularly scheduled board meeting to determine if their board will support reciprocal data exchange. If each member association were to do this, we could all be prepared to take this matter further and move towards decision and action.

One reason ITSO was created was that there are efficiencies gained from being part of a larger network. With the support of our member associations, we can collectively leverage this network to negotiate a solution that will increase access to MLS data to the benefit of all realtors in the province.  


This guest column originally appeared in ITSO’s newsletter to members on May 31, 2023. Minor edits have been made to adhere to Real Estate Magazine’s style guide.

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