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Lawsuit targets Realtor price fixing; masks advised despite mandate removals: CBC’s Marketplace cheat sheet | CBC News

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Price fixing has sent Realtor commissions soaring in an already hot market, lawsuit alleges

Much of the discussion about Canada’s real estate market has been dominated by the meteoric rise in the cost of housing. 

But what’s often missing from that conversation is the parallel increase in what Canadians pay in real estate commissions nearly every time a home is bought or sold. 

Commission structures vary across the country, but typically real estate agents and their brokerage charge a percentage-based commission on the sale price of a home. 

Those fees are split between the brokerage representing the seller and the one representing the buyer. But they’re all paid by the seller, a practice a proposed class-action lawsuit alleges is unfair. 

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Toronto resident Mark Sunderland in April 2021, argues that some of the country’s largest brokerages, as well as the Canadian Real Estate Association and the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, have “conspired, agreed or arranged with each other to fix, maintain, increase or control the price … for buyer brokerage services in the GTA.”

The practice of making sellers pay both commissions also leaves the door open for allegations of steering, the case alleges, because the rule gives buyer brokerages the incentive to “steer” buyers away from sellers offering lower commission rates.

A 2021 Marketplace investigation into the issue found that consumers’ fears around steering are not unfounded.

The Canadian Real Estate Association told CBC News it would not comment on the Sunderland case because it’s before the courts.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, another defendant in the case, said it “has no involvement with and does not consider or discuss REALTOR® commissions.” Read more

In a lucrative housing market, the cost of real estate commissions is rising — but a Canadian lawsuit suggests that price-fixing on commissions is also driving up costs. (Reuters)

Masks are optional in most public spaces. But experts say you should still wear one

With mask restrictions lifted in most public spaces across Canada, it can be tempting to just forgo them all together.

But as public health experts make clear, just because mask mandates have been lifted doesn’t mean the virus is going anywhere.

Parisa Ariya, director of the Atmospheric and Interfacial Chemistry Laboratories at Montreal’s McGill University, says pretending the pandemic is over won’t protect you. 

“We should not close our eyes and believe that everything is gone,” said Ariya, who researches the ways in which airborne viruses spread and is a leading expert in the study of bioaerosol transmission.

She compared virus particles to a computer software algorithm — even if you can’t see it with the naked eye, it still exists and works.

“Viruses are physical entities. Physical bodies. And the mask idea — it’s nothing new — it avoids and decreases transmission.”

In fact, the Public Health Agency of Canada’s current guidance still advises Canadians to keep masking. 

“We recommend that you wear a mask in public indoor settings,” the agency’s website states. Read more

A woman wearing a mask is pictured in downtown Toronto in April. Cases of COVID-19 are increasing during a sixth wave of the pandemic in Ontario. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Canada’s inflation rate hits 31-year high

Prices are still going up, up, up.

The cost of living continues to rise at the fastest pace in decades, with Canada’s official inflation rate rising at a 6.8 per cent annual pace in April, a new 31-year high.

Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that the cost of living crept higher mainly because of increases in the cost of food and shelter. Food prices have risen by 9.7 per cent in the past year, while shelter costs are up by 7.4 per cent.

Global factors, including the war in Ukraine disrupting the price and supply of grains, as well as outbreaks of bird flu and extreme weather events in the United States, are combining to drive up the cost of meat and produce.

Among the increases:

  • Fresh vegetables, up 8.2 per cent
  • Fresh fruit, up 10 per cent
  • Meat, up 10.1 per cent
  • Bread, up 12.2 per cent
  • Coffee, up 13.7 per cent
  • Pasta, up 19.6 per cent. Read more
A person walks past a grocery store sign promoting food products in downtown Vancouver in January. Canada’s official inflation rate rose at a 6.8 per cent annual pace in April. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

What else is going on?

Sask. woman had unbearable knee pain, so she paid $28K for surgery in Calgary
Betty-Lynn Nylen was told she would have to wait 3 years for surgery in Sask.

Monkeypox cases under investigation in Canada as outbreak spreads in Europe, U.S.
U.S., U.K., Portugal and Spain also investigating cases as global numbers grow.

Liberals set to revive plan for Canada Border Services Agency watchdog
Bill would create the Public Complaints and Review Commission.

Earth’s oceans were the hottest, most acidic on record in 2021, UN report finds
‘Our climate is changing before our eyes,’ says World Meteorological Organization chief.

Marketplace needs your help

We’re always on the hunt for a good deal and need your help! Have you noticed prices going up at discount stores or thrift shops near you? Send us your examples, with photos! Email us at [email protected].

Catch up on past episodes of Marketplace on CBC Gem.


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