Realtors go to bat to keep sellers' personal info private!

Toronto Realtors have now waged a public relations war with the country's competition commission, ahead of a final decision on whether to allow buyers direct access to a seller's "personal information."

The problem, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board, is that homesellers would effectively be put at risk with requirements their Realtors include their telephone contact information, along with details about how much they paid for their properties.

“Easy access to information online is a huge safety issue,” Von Palmer, the real estate board’s chief privacy officer, told The Globe and Mail. “There is a real possibility of break-ins and assaults; you only have to read the headlines to imagine what might happen. You hear stories about realtors getting attacked and killed. Can you imagine if we put that information out there about consumers? You can only imagine the headlines.”

The comments come well ahead of a competition tribunal set for this fall and expected to see the Competition Bureau argue for direct consumer access to seller information without having to go through Realtors. Those details would also be made available online to homebuyers.

TREB is fighting that call for greater disclosure, with the competition bureau suggesting that the information is already being made available to clients by Realtors.

TREB isn't waiting on that hearing and has already hired Angus Reid Vision Critical to conduct a phone survey. The goal is to back up its members' assertion that  Ontarians want their personal information kept off line and out of the hands of sellers, increasingly bypassing Realtors and searching for homes on their own.

“TREB is trying to have it both ways as the identical information is routinely provided today by real estate agents to consumers," Greg Scott, spokesman for the Competition Bureau, said this week.