Last year, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) lost its bid to keep key info about homes sales restricted and that’s been considered a win for prospective homebuyers.

As per a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, consumers now have online access to information such as home sales prices, house history, and property market trends within a particular neighbourhood.

So how has this new access shifted the housing market? For one, it’s stopped consumers from blindly bidding on properties.

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Ross Walsh and his wife say websites like Zoocasa have helped them figure out which houses are purposefully listed as low – since the owners want to incite a bidding war.

“Initially we were looking at certain areas that we thought we could afford based on the listing prices, but then when we see what houses actually go for, that gave us a bit of a reality check,” he said.

Stephania Walsh explained to Citytv News, “The website helps us to get a real picture of the house, the housing market, and what we can afford in general.”

Realosophy president John Pasalis was one advocate who helped push for more information to be released to the public. He said the transparency hasn’t had a detrimental effect on the jobs of realtors, but has instead lead to more informed choices and better practices.

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“That’s the most interesting thing I find,” said Pasalis. “It’s that even if people have access to information, that does not stop homebuyers for ridiculously overpaying for some homes.

"I don’t know if people just aren’t doing their research or if they’re just have trouble making sense of the value of properties? I’m not sure exactly what that means.”

One clear advantage is that people listing their homes can have an accurate sense of how to price their property in relation to other homes in the neighbourhood.

“The consumer does have a lot more information,” Pasalis said. “They can kind of raise the bar in terms of expectations of what their real estate agent is doing.”

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Despite the ruling, TREB still maintains that the new data infringes on privacy.

But RE/MAX agent Paul Raposo says clients usually don’t have a problem with the public information being out there.

“In the past we were able to advertise after we sold the property. With permission of the home owner, we were allowed to advertise the selling price of the property,” he said.

“Now everyone has access to those numbers and figures and why shouldn’t they. We’re not here to hide things from our customers.”

And the provincial government plans to use public feedback it sought earlier this year to modify the laws that govern realtors in an effort to protect consumers.

This year has proven critical in the fight for transparency within the housing market overall.

Toronto Condos & Homes