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Why Did Former Competition Bureau Head Decide Not to Follow Her Own Advice on the Sale of Her Toronto Home?

Melanie Aitken, the feisty former Competition Bureau Head, recently sold her Toronto home in the quiet Moore Park neighbourhood. Ms. Aitken did not follow her own advice and chose to hire a full service real estate broker instead.

Do as I say but not as I do
Ms. Aitken listed her home with a full service broker at 89 Hudson Drive in Toronto. Her home was on the Toronto Real Estate MLS system for $1,849,000. The home was sold in six days for a significant amount above the asking price.

The question that immediately comes to the mind of many real estate agents is …why did Ms. Aitken choose not to hire one of those minimum service brokers she fought so hard for?

As a lawyer challenging the real industry practices, one would think she was fully capable of selling her home on her own, or perhaps taking advantage of those minimum fee brokers, and saving herself tens of thousands of dollars in real estate fees.

As the head of the Competition Bureau, Aitken quickly built a reputation for taking no prisoners when it came to changing many industry procedures.

During her short tenure, Melanie Aitken went after the banking industry, airlines, telecommunications , credit card companies and the real estate industry among others.

In one of her most notorious squabbles with the real estate industry, Aitken set out to “to eliminate what it says are uncompetitive practices in the real estate industry’s listing services’.

She often stated that these changes were long overdue and her actions were motivated by consumer demand. Those actions hit the real estate industry when “she pressured the Canadian Real Estate Association into opening up its Multiple Listings Service to brokers who don’t charge full-service fees”.

Apparently the survey numbers Ms. Aitken used to estimate ‘consumer demand’ were quite limited, and may have included no more than a handful of people.

For example, the number of home sellers who choose to use real estate brokers who offer limited services is really insignificant.

Out 22,548 homes listed for sale in the Toronto Real Estate Board’s listing service, less than one tenth of one percent of home sellers opt to hire a minimum service broker.  

Ms. Aitken has returned to the private sector and has switched sides. She will now “use her insider’s knowledge of the country’s regulatory system to help companies across North America avoid running afoul of competition laws”.

Moral of the story: If it’s good for the goose, it’s not necessarily good for the gander.



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