Competition czar targets real estate fees

Mon Feb 8, 2010 11:51am EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's competition czar took aim at the Canadian Real Estate Association on Monday to try to make it cheaper for consumers to list their homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

The Competition Bureau is asking the Competition Tribunal to strike down rules imposed by the association on people wanting to use the MLS system, which require them to use additional services they might not want.

Melanie Aitken, the competition commissioner, said that if the rules were struck down, "there will be downward pressure on real estate fees in Canada."

The Competition Bureau said that, under the Canadian Real Estate Association's rules, agents are not allowed to offer consumers the option of paying them to just list a home on the MLS system.

Instead, they must buy a pre-determined set of additional services, such as the presentation of offers and the negotiation of a final deal, the bureau said.

"The bureau is focused on striking down these anti-competitive rules, so that real estate agents wishing to offer innovative services can do so, and consumers can benefit from greater choice," Aitken said in a statement.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson)