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Do You Agree with the Montreal Real Estate Board?

A problem has arisen in Quebec, and it once again has many in the province talking about separating. This time, from the Canadian Real Estate Association, the agency that fills us in on what home sales around the country are doing and continues to keep its eye on the national housing market. But if the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board has their way, their eyes won’t be on the Quebec market for very long.

The problem, says the Montreal Real Estate Board, is that in-province homes are being listed on sites such as MLS.ca and Realtor.ca. They claim that this is illegal activity as homes within the province need to be listed by an agent that’s licensed in that province; and that dual fees may be being charged for being listed on several different sites.

“This is illegal,” says board president Patrick Juaneda. “Apart from some rare exceptions, to list a home in Quebec, you must have a license in Quebec.”

And this isn’t the first time the Montreal board has had a problem with out-of-province brokers listing homes on their site. In fact, it was over a year ago – in July 2012 – when they went to the CREA and threatened to leave the Association if they didn’t reduce the amount of expenses the CREA was charging them.

“Unfortunately, it is clear that CREA has not delivered on its promises and progress on some dossiers has even declined,” Juaneda told members in an email this week. “This issue has gone on long enough and that it is now time to make a final decision.”

But the CREA says that what out-of-province brokers and real estate agents are doing is not illegal; and there’s nothing they can do to prevent them from listing Montreal homes on the main websites if that’s what they wish to do. They say that the only requirement for listing homes on one of these sites is that they are a member, not that they are licensed. This is true, as often it’s the receptionist or office manager – not an actual real estate agent – that places the listing on the site after having received it from a licensed real estate agent. And now all they’re saying is that they remain open to working with the Quebec boards and listening to them.

“We remain ready to engage in conversation with all Quebec boards,” says Peter Leduc, CREA spokesperson. “All properties on Realtor.ca must be listed by a member. It has for some time, this is not new.”

So why all the hollering from the Montreal Real Estate Board? Their dispute with the CREA began in 2012, just two years after the province started feeling the effects of a new agreement between the CREA and the Competition Bureau. That agreement made it easier for homeowners who wanted to sell their home on their own, allowing them to only pay a one-time fee to a broker to list on the main listing websites.

However, this caused a problem for Quebec as brokers must be much more involved in this province, ensuring that every detail of the listing is accurate. And Quebec is the only province that has that stipulation. This has led homeowners in Quebec wanting to sell their own homes to seek brokers in nearby Ontario or New Brunswick to list their homes for them, and detracting from the business of Quebec brokers.

If the Montreal Real Estate Board is going to separate from the CREA, it would mean that they would no longer be able to list on the main listing websites, and would greatly cut into the amount of homes being sold. And Quebec has had the fewest home sales of all the provinces month after month. For the CREA, it would mean about a 10 per cent loss in their membership fees.

The Montreal Real Estate Board has said that they will make a decision by mid-December and will pass that decision on to all their brokers and agents within the province.

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