At least not soon.
VancouverCondo.info has an interesting link to a Wall Street Journal article about how Google map-based open access listings may change the real estate transaction game.
I think they're over simplifying things just a tad too much. Essentially, the argument goes like this: MLS has map-based listings, Craigslist doesn't, enter Google who will, and suddenly real estate commissions are eroded by a technology-savvy generation and a bunch of HTML maps. If only.
As we've already discussed, the issue isn't the crappy website the CREA offers its customers. The issue is ownership of data. CREA and their member organizations (local real estate associations and agents) believe they own the data that you and I need to have access to in order to make educated decisions about general market conditions and individual market values simply because they've been able to collect it without outside interference for a generation. Can you think of any other market dealing with comparable valuations without any arms-length data transparency oversight or regulation?
They rent this data to us by way of a pseudo-monopolistic need to use a real estate agent in order to gain equitable access to 95% or more of the real estate marketplace. Essentially, and we've never seen a credible argument denying this, the CREA's claim to the data is "finders keepers."
I have no doubt that Google's real estate site will kick Realtor.ca's a$$. This isn't because Google is the sh&t when it comes to web design and functionality. It's because Realtor.ca uses Bing, which sucks more than Realtor.ca, and because Realtor.ca sucks period--on purpose.
Let me be very clear here: CREA doesn't want you and I to be empowered as real estate listing searchers. The opposite is true. CREA wants you and I to be so frustrated with the experience that we simply toss our hands in the air, give up and quit, and then call one of their members so they can rent an income.
Somewhere deep down inside that archaic industry association is a group of power-people still pissed that we aren't required to come into their office during bankers hours to flip through their three ring binder of listings--steadfastly refusing to adapt to a changing world where freedom of information is a given, rather than a "paid for"--doing everything in their power to prevent the game from changing.
So what's next? Google will get in the game, it's part of their Cyberdyne-like plan to take over the world. But the rules won't change. YET. Give it a decade.
Once Google has captured enough of the market transaction data (ten years worth should do it) and you and I are free to see the transaction history of listings at the click of a button without a rent-seeker getting in the way, the game will change. When that happens, the 1100 or so ambulance-chasing agents in this town will be reduced to the 300 or so who are actually worth their full commission because they give a damn, "get it", adapt to changing times, work their asses off, and care about their clients enough to be honest about the true state of the market rather than chasing their next commission without concern for their client's long-term financial security.
That day will be monumental. Perhaps it can be in February. We'll name it rent-freedom day and forever enshrine it with the distinction of being the event that leads our society to a stat holiday every month.