Canadian Realtors end spat with regulators

Consent agreement protects MLS-only listings, flat-fee brokers

The Canadian Real Estate Association ended a 3 1/2-year battle with regulators Sunday by ratifying a consent agreement that the Competition Bureau of Canada says will prohibit CREA’s member boards and associations from imposing anticompetitive rules on flat-fee, limited-service brokerages.

The Competition Bureau served CREA with a court order in March 2007, after Canada’s equivalent of the National Association of Realtors published a set of rule interpretations that barred the "mere posting" of listings in multiple listing services without the provision of other services.

That, and other CREA rules — such as requirements that a listing Realtor act as an agent for the seller throughout the entire period of a listing agreement, and receive and present all offers and counteroffers to the seller — have virtually eliminated fee-for-service real estate brokerages in Canada, the Competition Bureau alleged.