Do the words “pre-COVID” mean anything to you?
Like, previous life, right?
Not to draw too awkward an analogy here, but for those of you with children, you’ll often remember, or quite the opposite – be at a complete loss to remember, what life was like before kids. I’m certainly in that camp. It takes a lot of effort to recall those days.
Saturday nights in my old condo, pre-kids? Wow, that was something. I’d get home after a long day of showings, order pizza from the car and have it arrive shortly after I did, then my wife and I would sit on the patio and eat, drink, and be merry. Laugh at stupid things, reminisce, and just relax. Then we would start a movie, she would fall asleep halfway through, and I’d drink copious amounts of rye and diet gingerale, eventually carrying her into bed at midnight, then staying up for hours, making random spreadsheets on my computer of Cy Young winners dating back to 1957, or browsing new G.I. Joe listings on eBay, and God-knows what else…
Saturday nights in my house, with two kids? She’s in bed by 9:45pm, I’m following before 11pm, and I’m feeling those two drinks early the next morning as I sit in the park, nursing my Tim Horton’s coffee, with my daughter running around as though she’s just had eleven Red Bull energy drinks.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything, of course. But all of us try, now and again, to remember what life was like with more freedom.
The same can be said for this new world we’ve adopted; that of face-masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. Think of the every-day experiences we now take for granted.
I mean, when are you going to see a movie in the theatre again, for example?
This all blends together for me.
The last time I saw a movie in the theatre was about November or December of 2018.
My mother came to stay at our house overnight and look after our daughter, and my wife and I went and stayed at the Old Mill Hotel for the night. We had dinner, watched a live jazz band, and the next day, we went to see Bohemian Rhapsody in the theatre.
It felt surreal. For a person who works all the time, I was sitting in the theatre, in the middle of a Saturday, feeling like I was playing hooky from school.
Now here’s a question for all of you who saw this movie in the theatre, and be honest: when you left that theatre, did you, or did you not, go home and download Queen’s greatest hits?
Admit it. We all did.
I downloaded a handful of songs from YouTube, and of course, my wife just bought the album in iTunes which I honestly never thought of doing.
So which song did you listen to the most?
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is great, and for a child of the 80’s and 90’s, it will always remind me of the famous scene in Wayne’s World.
“We Are The Champions” is wonderful, and it reminds me of winning house league hockey championships in 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, and 1996. It was played every single time.
But for me, it doesn’t get any better than “Another One Bites The Dust.”
And that was the best scene in the movie, too.
The members of the band are all fighting, and bassist, John Deacon, is playing that unmistakable riff on his bass guitar. The guys stop fighting instantly; mesmerized by the tune.
In case you haven’t seen the movie:
“Another one bites the dust” is a Queen song, yes. But it’s a colloquial phrase synonymous with losing, or missing out, or dying, or being eliminated, etc.
I can’t think of a better phrase, or a more iconic rock star, to deliver the fate of popular real estate website, Bungol.
Indeed, as it pertains to popular real estate websites not named “Realtor.ca,” another one has bitten the dust, in a long line of dust-biters before it.
Bungol was shut down by TRREB this month, or to be fair, Bungol had its’ access to MLS suspended by TRREB, thereby forcing Bungol to shut down, and post this on their website:
As much as it pains me to revisit the Competition Bureau’s legal battle with TRREB, and vice versa, surely we thought we’d all heard the end of it?
I distinctly remember standing in a parking lot in downtown Jackson, Wyoming, in the summer of 2018, giving an off-the-record interview to a Toronto newspaper columnist, about how real estate agents fear the Toronto Real Estate Board and their figure-heads, who believe themselves to be demi-Gods, and possess the ability to take away our ability to make a living. As a result, few agents would go on the record with comments speaking out against TRREB. I mean, why would they? We are not martyrs, and we’ve seen what happens to agents who ruffle feathers, before us.
With Bungol now shut down, can you recall the other popular real estate websites that are no longer in existence?
TO Solds? That one was really popular back in the day, but it was eventually shuttered.
Mongo House? I remember that one. They were shut down in 2019 after TRREB filed a $2.1M lawsuit one year earlier.
Sold.Watch? Their website is still functional, merely explaining, “Thank you to our many supporters. This service is now closed.”
Zoocasa, which is now an existing brokerage, was providing sold data back in 2015, against TRREB’s orders, but eventually backed down.
Geez, this sounds familar to me.
Napster, Limewire, Kazaa, Frostwire……………………iTunes.
Everybody and their mother uses House Sigma right now, and I wonder if the denial of access to TRREB data for Bungol is a sign of things to come for House Sigma. If that happened, I think the city would be up in arms.
Now why was Bungol shut down? Er, I mean why did TRREB take away Bungol’s access to sold data?
We don’t know.
Neither, apparently, does the owner/operator of Bungol, who wants to remain anonymous.
TRREB released this brief statement on the matter:
“TRREB requires that all of its members comply with the TRREB By-Law, Rules, Policies and contractual obligations. TRREB has commenced a process to review compliance and address any outstanding issues accordingly. In that regard TRREB has taken action with respect to a Member’s non-compliance with their contractual obligations and cannot comment any further at this time as it is an internal professional standards matter. Home buyers and sellers interested in obtaining information about residential real estate listings may consult any one of the many virtual office websites currently operated by TRREB Members in compliance with all applicable agreements and laws.”
A classic non-answer. One that Mr. Trudeau and others would be proud of.
The major difference between Bungol and House Sigma, from what I can see, is simple: House Sigma has agents, Bungol does not.
TRREB didn’t provide an explanation, but they really don’t have to. They were asked for a comment and they provided a political non-answer, as is their right. They don’t “owe” anybody an explanation.
They do, however, owe the owner/operator of Bungol an explanation, and according to he or she, from the note posted on the website this week, no explanation was given. Or at least not a complete one.
As of Tuesday, this story has yet to make the news. Search the term “Bungol” and you won’t find anything in the news section of Google, but you will find a Reddit thread which you can access via this link:
As usual, the comments on here are from wishful thinkers and wide-eyed optimists.
Comments such as “ok can someone explain to me why do we need TREB?” is just so ignorant and uninformed that I can’t dignify it with a response.
“At this point, TREB should be broken up.”
“Everybody should reach out to TREB to express their thoughts.”
And on, and on, and on.
Commenters use the word “we” as though they are part of TREB, as though TREB is some sort of public service that they have ownership of. I realize that the world is changing daily, and that entitlement runs so rampant that most people don’t know the difference anymore, but nevertheless, I feel as though the TRB readers can see the difference.
Let me say this: the Toronto Real Estate Board has every right to control their own data. Full stop.
But my issue is, and always has been, that TRREB doesn’t ask its members what they want.
If you polled the 55,000 licensed agents at TRREB today and asked if they would like for their clients to have access to sold data, an overwhelming majority would say yes. But would TRREB listen? I don’t think so. In fact, I will go out on a limb here and say that I know so.
TRREB is a body of people. 55,000 of them, who elect 16 directors to represent their interests, and then pass these directions up the chain to one or two people. But in reality, the 55,000 members take direction from the top. Always have, always will.
The owner/operator of Bungol said above, “Honestly, we are terrified of TREB.”
I am terrified of TRREB (and I went on record with this in a Toronto Star article that will appear on Wednesday or Thursday).
I always wonder, “When will I wake up and log on to TorontoMLS to find out that my access has been taken away, due to something I wrote on my blog? How will I go about fighting a months-long battle to get it back? Whatever happened to ‘innocent until proven guilty?'”
That’s one of my largest fears in this industry. And yes, I’ve been sitting here for a few moments, debating whether or not I want to put this in writing.
But since I’ve come this far, I may as well go further…
The reason that sites like Bungol and House Sigma exist is because there’s demand.
Why is there demand?
Well, it’s the same reason why there’s a demand for every other product or service in existence: the service is good, if not great, and there are few substitutes.
Realtor.ca is a heaping pile of crap. It’s awful, out-dated website with poor functionality, but it’s not only TRREB’s fault, since Realtor.ca is run by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). In fact, TRREB had been making noise last year about pulling out of CREA, but that’s before they went from TREB to TRREB, ie. merging with the Durham and Brampton boards. But TRREB has more sway than any board out there, and if Realtor.ca was to be improved, it would have to be spearheaded by TRREB.
TRREB created something called “Collaborate,” which was a tool that we could invite our clients to use, giving them access to our own internal MLS. However, our clients opted not to use this, and instead went back to Bungol and House Sigma.
That’s exactly the question that TRREB should be asking.
In my dreams, I picture a world in which TRREB spends time and money building a better website for consumers, on behalf of its 55,000 paying members. Instead of spending tens of millions of dollars fighting court battles, I wish they would do a better job for us, the agents, and allow us to better service our clients.
Imagine if TRREB built a website that was twice as good as House Sigma or Bungol? I’m sure they have more money than those operators, and surely they could find more imaginative, more creative, more talented designers and coders.
Instead of Bungol, House Sigma, and the like having to obtain a feed through TRREB’s MLS, signing contracts and agreements (we’ve all done this…), TRREB could merely turn on their own faucet for once!
And every time I see one of these sites shut down after lengthy and expensive battles, I imagine just a little less.
I don’t know why Bungol was shut down, and I cannot state with any degree of certainty that TRREB treated them unfairly in any way. I’m sure that the operator of Bungol broke the rules, but I’m not sure that I would agree with those rules, nor am I sure that 55,000 other agents would.
But I can say, emphatically, that TRREB’s interactions with these sites continues to point to a need for a better website at the board level, and continues to demonstrate to TRREB that other people outside of our board are doing our job better.
My question, just in case those at TRREB are reading: doesn’t this bother you?Back To Top Back To Comments