An announcement from Rogers Communications has left some Realtors reeling, as the goliath digital provider reveals it has applied to become a licensed real estate brokerage.
Rogers currently owns Zoocasa.com, an online search tool that allows Canadian homebuyers and investors to search listings that fit their needs. If the application is approved, the site will be re-launched in May to compete with online property listings sites such as Trulia that allow homebuyers to access exclusive information about a listing.
Also, the site will become a fully-fledged directory of vetted agents, who can connect to potential buyers – for a price. Realtors will pay a fee for every connection and sale that occurs through Zoocasa.com.
The timing is a cause of concern for many, coming after the Competition Bureau faces months of pushback in its drive to further open the MLS system to consumers with more personal information of home sellers. That coupled with a slowing market means the Rogers entrance may raise eyebrows, says mortgage agent Paolo Di Petta.
“If Rogers had done it earlier, they would have seen more growth,” he says. “Now I think it’s too little too late.When the market goes down, that’s when buyers really need a broker’s service. That’s when they need the help to sell.”
Zoocasa president Carolyn Beatty has made it clear that the site isn’t meant to eradicate brokers or Realtors from the home-buying process, and DiPetta doesn’t think it could.
“I don’t think it will cut them out of the process at all,” he says. “Having your property listed is bare essential in this market. It’s just not cut it when the market is down, investors will need Realtors and brokers now more than ever.”
Written by Jemima Codrington