In a first for Canada, a new pilot program from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) will allow homebuyers to see all registered offers placed on a property as they're submitted.

The real-time tracking will be shown on a property's listing, using Australian property technology company Openn Negotiation. Details on when and where the pilot will launch are not yet clear, with the CREA saying that it will kick off some time this summer in select markets across the country.

“Multiple offer scenarios have become increasingly commonplace in today’s real estate environment,” said CREA’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Bourque. “Canadian property buyers and sellers seek greater confidence in the process, while Canadian realtors seek tools to enable and more easily manage these situations. We’re very excited about the potential of this pilot to address both.”

The announcement came just one day before the federal government announced its intention to ban blind bidding Canada-wide in the 2022 Federal Budget. This followed a 2021 campaign promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to create a Home Buyers' Bill of Rights, which would include the banning of blind bidding.

As rising home prices and fierce bidding wars rage on, Canada is looking to follow the lead of other countries like Australia which use an open bidding system as a means to cool Canada's housing market. Duncan Anderson, executive director of Openn and president of Openn North America, says that since launching, their software has offered Australian homebuyers much needed transparency.

“Through six-plus years of development, execution, and innovation in the Australian market, we have proven that both the real estate professional and consumer benefit greatly from enhanced transparency,” Anderson said. “We are thrilled by the opportunity to partner with CREA to introduce Openn Offers to the Canadian marketplace.”

Some have questioned federal government's decision to implement open bidding, with one report from policy think tank Smart Prosperity Institute stating that not only is there no evidence to support the government’s claim that blind bidding causes prices to soar, but that actual evidence from countries like Sweden, New Zealand, and Australia suggests open bidding will lead to higher prices. It's important to note, however, that all of Australia's home sales, as well as a large portion of New Zealand's, are carried out via a live auction. And in Sweden, bids placed on a home are not legally binding. Both are significant departures from Canada's typical home buying process.

The federal government has not yet provided any details on what exactly the blind bidding ban would entail or how it would be implemented. Currently, each province or territory have their own varied rules and regulations when it comes to open bidding. In Ontario, for example, the Real Estate Brokers Act prohibits realtors from revealing the dollar amount of competing bids, but requires they reveal how many other offers there are. In British Columbia, on the other hand, buyers must rely on a selling agent's willingness to reveal how many other offers they've received.

Despite the current rules, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver is on board with the CREA pilot.

“This opportunity is well-timed and well-suited for our market,” said Jeff King, CEO of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. “We are excited to participate in a by realtors for realtors solution that provides equality of access to information and facilitates increased transparency for the consumer.”

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