Quick Hits: MLS Edition

Quick Hits!

6 minute read

February 28, 2020

I’ve got a handful of “little things” to chat about, when we have time, and three of them seem to have a common theme: they all have to do with MLS.

So let’s look at these three topics together today, and see what pearls of wisdom we can offer the real estate industry…

Offer Nights & Bully Offers

I can’t recall the year, but at some point in the past, I wrote about how TREB should update the MLS listing to have a “checkbox” for whether or not there is a set “offer date.”

This makes sense, does it not?

Something as important as how offers are being handled should have a dedicated section on the listing, no?

Under our current system, agents simply detail the offer process in the “Brokerage Remarks,” which is a section at the bottom of the listing that the public can’t see.  The verbiage differs from listing to listing, but you get the gist of it; anything from “Offers Thursday the 10th” to “Offers Most Graciously Reviewed at 7:00pm At Our Queen Street Office, Please Register By 5:00pm.”

The problem with leaving this to agents is that it’s bound to get screwed up once in a while.

Checking a box isn’t foolproof either, of course.  Agents will routinely check “Front Pad” for parking when it’s a mutual driveway, or check “Central Air” when there’s a wall-unit in a house with radiant heat.

In fact, none of the fields on MLS are foolproof, whether it’s a box, or a free-form field.

The section for “Square Footage Source” is a free-form field, meaning agents can write whatever they want.  So while you or I might think “MPAC” or “Builder Plan” are the obvious sources of a reputable representation of square footage, some agents write “Seller Estimate,” which is ridiculous.  Some agents just put a dot or a hyphen in the field, and leave it essentially blank.

So why not a field for “Offer Date” on MLS?

I see no reason not to.

Now consider yet another wrinkle, and this is quite embarrassing, I must admit.

I don’t lump myself into the “bucket” of agents responsible for what’s posted below.  I consistently rank in the top 100 or 150 agents out of some 55,000, for what it’s worth, so even though I always risk being painted by the public with the same brush as everyone else, for posting things like this, I can’t help but draw attention to it:

What the hell is this?

When are offers?

You have an offer date scheduled for Monday, February 24th, but then you’ve said “offers any time.”

This makes zero sense.

And this is EXACTLY the problem with letting agents explain when and how offers will be reviewed, in a free-form section, rather than a box-check.

This is possibly a language barrier, but it could also be somebody that doesn’t know how offers work.

It could also be somebody that is trying to say, “Offers on Monday, February 24th By 6pm.  Seller Reserves The Right To Consider Pre-Emptive Offers.”

Even if it is the latter, and you and I can come up with that conclusion on our own, others might not.  Plus, it doesn’t excuse the confusion and complete ineptitude in the first place.

So once again, let me make a suggestion: let us please put TWO checkboxes on the MLS listing, one for “offer date” and one for “seller will consider pre emptive offers.”

There is simply no reason to not incorporate this immediately.  Not tomorrow.  Not tonight.  Now.

If you want to remove human error, then remove as much of the human element as possible.  Checking a box is much, much easier than typing words and sentences, which, together, should form meaning.



Pre-Emptive Offer Etiquette

Not to continue beating this dead and dying horse, but I would love if there was better etiquette among agents when it comes to pre-emptive offers.

Last fall, I received a pre-emptive offer from an agent at 9:30pm on a Friday night with a 10:00pm irrevocable.

You might tell me that he’s “doing his job,” or that he’s “strategizing.”  Trust me when I say that he’s not.

I suppose it depends on who the listing agent is, and I’ll come back to this in a moment.

But for me?  My listing etiquette?  I simply can’t work with that offer.

If you have an offer date set, and posted on MLS, say, for Monday, March 2nd, and you receive a bully/pre-emptive offer and want to work with it, you have to inform every agent or person who has expressed an interest in the property before you accept that offer in hand.

So, receiving an offer at 9:30pm on a Friday night, with a 10:30pm irrevocable, when I’ve had 80 showings, is not something I can work with.  I need to call, email, or page 80 agents in 30 minutes and ensure there’s time for them to mobilize.

Again, you might suggest that I don’t “need” to do all of this, or that the seller should be free to do as he or she pleases.  But think like a buyer for a moment.  Think like a member of the public who doesn’t like the way real estate is bought or sold in the city, and you’ll realize that changing the offer date on a Friday night with less than thirty minutes is a really sleazy thing to do.

As a result, we’re starting to see things like this on MLS:

Nothing wrong with that, right?

Maybe it’s a bit of an oxymoron – suggesting that a surprise, sneak-attack should be done “appropriately.”

But it’s just saying to buyer agents, “Hey, look, the market is nuts out there.  I respect your time, your strategy, and what your buyers are going through.  We’ll look at pre-emptive offers, but don’t try and put me in a position where I”m going to piss off 50 buyers and 50 buyer agents, and risk getting taken to RECO Ethics.”

I can’t find another example of it, but often agents are spelling out the time period in which an irrevocable can be reviewed:

“Seller Will Consider Pre-Emptive Offers With 12-Hour Irrevocable”

On a separate note, what do you make of this?

I mean, it’s not wrong, right?

It should be obvious already.  A pre-emptive offer should be “significant.”  So why not spell it out?

Another one I’ve seen but can’t find the MLS listing for:

“Seller Will Consider Exciting Pre-Emptive Offer”

I actually think that was the same agent as the one above.

Now my “checkbox” idea from the first topic wouldn’t allow for this sort of tomfoolery, nor the common sense description of what is “appropriate” per the above, but I still have to think we’d all be better off…



Who Owns The MLS Photos?

A client of mine emailed this week to ask if I can help him with a situation that many home-owners experience: privacy.

After you purchase a home and close on it, there are photos of your home floating around on the Internet, seemingly, forever.

My own home is no different.  There are floor plans of my home on the internet, and complete with photos, and a virtual tour, I feel as though it’s a blueprint for a break-in.

Unfortunately, TREB doesn’t agree.  But more on that in a moment.

My client said that photos of his home were on HouseSigma and the other sites that scrape data from TREB, and asked if I could help remove the photos.  I would if I could, trust me.

There are two problems here, however:

1) House Sigma and the like take their information from the original listing, not the listing in the TREB archives.  So if a house appears on House Sigma with photos, floor plans, room descriptions, measurements, et al, they will remain as such, even if you delete parts of the listing on MLS after the property is sold.

2) Even if the above werent’ the case, TRREB (I keep forgetting that stupid second ‘r’) has banned us from removing photos on listings.

Here’s a notice we received last fall where, yet again, they ended with a threat:

Yup.  This is who we answer to.

And for the thousandth time – it’s not like we collectively asked for this.  Rules and notices like the one above are merely the by-product of a very, very small handful of people at TREB.

So imagine that, right?

“Circumstances in which a Member has removed the information noted above from an active listing and then shortly thereafter the listing has expired, been terminated, or been marked as sold, will be treated as a violation of MLS Rule R-108.”

But does TREB own the photos?

I don’t believe they do.

When I hire a photographer to shoot a property, and I pay him a fee, then I own the photos.

Just as it’s illegal for another agent to download my photos from MLS when the property was for sale, and then use them on his or her listing for lease a year later, it should also be illegal for TREB to claming ownership.

Should it not be?

Weigh in, if you’d like.

I suppose the pro-TREB argument is simply: “You’re a member of TREB, and you are permitted use of MLS.  Their rules are their rules.  They prohibit deleting photos.  Period.”

I get that, but the rule, R-108, is incredibly vague.

“…circumvent TREB’s MLS system…”

Who is circumventing?

As agents, we’re merely protecting the privacy of our clients.

But then that’s the same argument that TREB used against the Competition Bureau to protect their sold data.

Maybe I don’t want to wade deeper into these waters.  Every time I mention TREB in this space, I worry that I’ll wake up tomorrow with a bloody horse-head in my bed…



That’s it for this week, folks!

Thanks to everybody who commented on Wednesday’s blog, wow!  Who knew that permeable parking pads and lawn drainage were such hot topics, right?

Just goes to show you that after thirteen years and over 2,500 blog posts, I still don’t always know when I’m going to get people’s motors running.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. Pingback: Quick Hits: MLS Edition | Real Estate News Group
  2. Appraiser

    at 8:56 am

    As I understand it, TRREB has a current Request For Proposal (RFP), for a new MLS Platform.

    You should send them this article.

  3. Joel

    at 9:57 am

    I think having photos up on a site such as housesigma make the buying and selling experience much better for the public. It allows buyers to do their own research and see comps instead of having to rely on their realtor.
    When someone lists a house 2 years after they bought for a 25% increase, you can see if they did any renovations to increase the value, or if that is what they think the market has appreciated by. Small sacrifice for the greater good!

  4. Appraiser

    at 10:27 am

    As of this morning, the DOW JONES is down another thousand points and over 15% from the peak.

    Well beyond “correction” territory of -10%.


    1. Chris

      at 10:36 am

      Surprised it took you so long to comment on the stock market pull back this time around! The past 3-4 times you’ve been on top of it much faster.

      COVID19 is shaping up to be a real black swan event, and could feasibly throw Canada into recession. But hey it’ll probably result in lower interest rates, so gotta be bullish for TO real estate…right?

      1. Professional Shanker

        at 12:24 pm

        Liquidate your equities for a pre-con condo!

        1. Chris

          at 12:39 pm

          Remember, the safest investment during a pandemic induced global recession is a negative carry 400 square foot condo in Toronto!

          1. Appraiser

            at 1:06 pm

            Now now boys, no need to be so defensive.

            I’m sure It’s just a scratch – a mere flesh wound.

            Peak Dow Jones Index = 29,551.42

            Let’s see how long it takes to get back there, shall we?

          2. Chris

            at 1:24 pm

            Just to clarify, are you once again calling that the stock market is “crashing in real time”? Maybe fourth time will be the charm…or maybe it will be yet another head fake that fools you? Time will tell!

            Meanwhile, I’ll take advantage of the opportunity right in the midst of RRSP contribution season to continue purchasing.

    2. J G

      at 10:46 am

      So where does this take us? Oh right, last October.

    3. J G

      at 10:53 am

      And if you hold strong stocks like Apple or Amazon, it’s only about 1-2 months of gains. I was going to suggest buy the dip but then realized fully invested RE folks probably can’t.

  5. Not Harold

    at 3:16 pm

    Your arguments about copyright sound reasonable though who exactly hired the work – you or the homeowner – could be interesting. Lawyers are frequently used to hire consultants in acute situations to extend attorney client privilege (think cybersecurity consultants in a possible breach) but all that work product belongs to the client.

    The other challenge is finding someone to sue. If Redfin was here and scraping they could be worth the lawsuit. But even with excessive statutory damages there’s hardly anyone worth suing.

  6. Andrei

    at 4:03 pm

    The listing should reflect historical accuracy and true state of the property at the time of transaction. Removing pictures or changing anything about the listing violates the integrity of this data. For example. What if someone decided to remodel the home and add more rooms, should the information that it was once a 2 bedroom and not a 3 bedroom be corrected? No, people should be able to trace the progression and history of a property.

  7. Kyle

    at 7:11 am

    Try as i might David, I simply can’t understand the connection between the DJ booth photo you’ve chosen and the blog topic. Where were you going with that?

    1. David Fleming

      at 10:58 am

      @ Kyle

      Lol. Quick Hits.

      I think “hits” and I think baseball base-hits, and musical hits.

      So the DJ playing “hits,” no?

      Alright, it was a reach. But this topic is one wehre I usually struggle with a choice in photos…

  8. Appraiser

    at 11:24 am

    Love this article from 2015.

    P.S. Many were laughing at such audacity at the time. Yeah, but what do developers and builders know – they’re not real estate “analysts”.

    “My prediction, and I’ve been pretty accurate to date, is we are going to have a 30-to-40 per cent increase in values of the condo market in downtown Toronto over the next three to four years,” Barry Fenton, CEO of Lanterra Developments,


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