A revolt by Montreal brokers against the Canadian Real Estate Association could be a boon for Quebecâ€™s growing For Sale By Owner market, industry observers say.
This month, the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board will decide whether to separate from CREA.
Leaving the national association risks sending more buyers and sellers into the hands â€” and websites â€” of the sell-it-yourself companies, because there would be no more listings from Montreal on CREAâ€™s popular Realtor.ca website.
And while Quebec brokers have their own website called Centris, about 60 per cent of its traffic comes from Realtor.ca. In July, 4,702,950 unique visitors from across Canada visited Realtor.ca, of which 607,131 came from Quebec, CREA said.
Dominic St. Pierre, Quebec region director for Royal LePage, said while he would not intervene in brokersâ€™ decision, he questions where home buyers and sellers will turn if there are no Montreal listings on Realtor.ca
â€œIf thereâ€™s no Realtor.ca, will they (home buyers) go to Royal Lepage, or Remax, or Centris.ca?â€? he asked. â€œOr will they go to Kijiji, or Les Pacs?â€? he continued, referring to the free online classified websites.
â€œWe have strong concerns if they would start to leave (sites used by brokers).â€?
Quebec brokers, already competing with Power Corp.-backed DuProprio.com, are now facing a new challenger in QuÃ©becor MÃ©dia, which launched its long-expected For Sale By Owner website, ViaProprio, last month.
But the Montreal Board points out that the number of Centris viewers is growing, with usage up more than 80 per cent in August, year over year. And even if Montreal brokers keep their access to Realtor.ca, they could lose access to certain privileged data from the national website, depending on the outcome of a case underway between the Competition Bureau and the Toronto Real Estate Board.
In November 2011, the Montreal board told The Gazette it would leave CREA if the association didnâ€™t cut expenses, and cease charging members for services they donâ€™t need. Quebec members paid $255 in dues to the national association in 2012, CREA said.
In July, the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards said it would be leaving CREA after nearly two decades, after one of its member boards from Granby decided to quit the national association.
Since then, a few boards â€” ones in Quebec City, the Eastern Townships and Outaouais â€” have chosen to stay in CREA.
â€œWeâ€™re disappointed that the FCIQ has decided to terminate their membership,â€? said CREA spokesperson Pierre Leduc.
The departure of the Montreal board, he said, would result in the loss of about 10 per cent of CREAâ€™s national membership, he said.
â€œIt would leave an important voice out.â€?