Many people have asked us, what were they thinking? The old MLS.ca website was nice, had a nice drill-down map of Canada, and while it took a few steps, was painless to use. Moving In Canada had made it even easier for home buyers by skipping about 5 steps to get to the city or neighbourhood with a single mouse-click.
The new website has two modes: map mode, where you enter your choices in a form embedded into a map interface, which showed search results on a street map. Assuming your search was not too general, resulting in more than 500 results, which left home shoppers wondering what to do next?. There was also a form interface, which was easier to use, and gave some easy options like province, city, street and postal code. But it generated only lists of homes, without a map to look them up or compare home locations. There was not toggling between the two interfaces. You can also enter an MLS listing number, or an MLS Area code, but those are obscure and we haven't found any publicly accessible Canada-side listing to help home shoppers. While the corporate geniuses behind the site may have thought, let's add a map and make it better, they missed a lot of things to truly simplify searches and home shopping.
Well, we've heard a number of rumours. We heard, that Realtors™ (its a registered trademark in Canada) did not want consumers getting house addresses and going home shopping with out them (and maybe cut them out of earning a commission). Maybe the internet was actually threatening them with "disintermediation" (cutting out the middle man), though the MLS.ca website was owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association, which is made up of all the local real estate boards which together control the "Multiple Listings Service") so this is not likely the issue.
Incidentally, to join the local real estate board, Realtors™ are subject to various professional standards, rules and ethics and must initially must pass a pretty tough exam.
We suspect the real reason was a number of lawsuits claiming "Anti-Trust" issues, where consumers selling their own home, and other websites listing homes for sale by owners ("FSBO") sued to get their listings included in the MLS listings without them being members (or paying for membership) in their local real estate board. These lawsuits argued that the associations had rules that prevented a competitive marketplace anyway and that if they joined then they in effect consented to their anti-competitive rules (the litigant's arguments, not ours).
What ended up happening was, the Real Estate Boards ended up re-branding thir multiple listings website "MLS.ca" as "Realtors.ca", (the change happened in July 2008) both protecting and using their registered trademark, which kind of made what used to be called the "multiple listings service" which sounded open to everyone, into the online database for Realtors, who by law, agreement, and trademark must be members of a real estate board.
Moving In Canada has stepped in to make things easier and we have added a nice clickable list in either list view or map view to key neighbourhoods in each community, to make using the Realtor.ca website much less frustrating. Just select the community and then choose the neighbourhood you are looking at
Small print: all registered trademarks are the property of their owners