The Toronto Real Estate Blog announced Canada’s first map-based real estate search engine today. RealEstatePlus.ca aims to do to the Canadian market what Trulia has done in the US and Extate and Nestoria et al. have done in the U.K. Currently, it’s only available in Toronto however.
The site is nice enough on the eyes and is bathed in the now all-to-familiar pastel hues of Web 2.0. Overall, the design is inoffensive but uninspired, and largely feels kind of flat. But this should be easy enough to tweak in subsequent versions.
Functionally, the site is good first release.
Searches are conducted by neighborhood (for more on neighborhood search, see Finding the Perfect Location with Neighborhoodmatch.com) – though the experience of navigating down to the right neighborhood was a little clumsy. I think this was largely due to the small lag time that exists in displaying a hoverbox in Virtual Earth. You have to roll over the icon, wait for the popup and then click where you want to go. Slow and annoying.
Add to that, clicking on ‘View Listings’ takes you to a hierarchical list of properties rather than the map view that I was expecting. To get to the map view, you actually need to click on the ‘View Demographics” link – which struck me as a little unintuitive.
Once in a neighborhood (e.g., Summerhill) however, RealEstatePlus does a good job of outlining basic demographics as well as show you the properties for sale. They also do a nice job of layering in neighborhood specific information; like hospitals, police stations, schools, parks etc. – it reminded me a lot of Coldwell Banker’s implementation (see Big Brokers Going Local) of neighborhood specific information.
Clicking on a property listing (e.g., 52 Walker Ave) gives you most of what you’d expect. There’s a nifty dynamic slideshow of the property photos and the site cross-sells similar properties to the one you’re looking at. It’s not clear whether the listings are scraped from the Internet or pulled through some relationship with the local MLS.
It’s also not clear what the company’s revenue model is (other than Google Ads) though I imagine, just like its US and U.K. counterparts, that will evolve over time as well.
Looking even further North: Renthusiast reports Norway’s mashup Igglo now covers Olso