The agent association behind Realtor.ca is engaged in talks to spin off Canada's most popular real estate portal in a move reminiscent of the NAR selling off Realtor.com in the United States back in 2014.
In an interview with U.S. realtor publication Inman.com [subscription required], Cliff Stevenson revealed that talks are ongoing to spin off Realtor.ca as a for-profit subsidiary.
The former Chair of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said that as its rivals from the U.S. gain strength in the market, Realtor.ca's parent company is looking to make outside investment in the portal possible in order to build up tech capabilities and retain market leadership.
Currently, Realtor.ca is in a small minority of leading portals that do not monetise listings at all. The portal is fully owned by the CREA and funded by membership fees. Leads are provided to members free of charge with no advertising of any kind allowed on the site.
Stevenson said that talks are in their early stages with nothing set in stone but that the idea was that CREA would allow the provincial realtor association boards and potentially some investors from outside the industry to buy a stake in a spun-off portal subsidiary.
Unlike Realtor.com which does charge agents for its services via both a cost-per-lead and a commission share basis, Realtor.ca would not allow advertising on the site according to Stevenson who did not give a clear answer on how exactly the spun-off portal would make money.
The CREA's decision to break a model that has worked very well for them for so long comes as the likes of Zillow and CoStar increasingly look to Canada to grow revenue.
CoStar's rentals marketplace Apartments.com recently announced its debut north of the border and Zillow's market share in Canada has been increasing over recent years.