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Rogers Communications shutting down Zoocasa.com on June 22, 2015

zoocasa  They launched back in 2008 in a beta version.  In 2011, they began offering property valuations through Zoopraisal.  And in the coming years, they provided the public with property sales data.   Surprisingly, Rogers Communications announced they will close the site as of June 22nd, 2015.

There is much speculation about why Rogers would close this online real estate site.  This was not some small business.  This site had a huge following and was ranked number 1181 in top websites in Canada…  That may not sound impressive, but that’s actually incredibly high.   Remax.ca is ranked #484, Royallepage.ca is #535, Sutton.com (Sutton Group) is just #3559… according to Alexa rankings. Continue reading “Rogers Communications shutting down Zoocasa.com on June 22, 2015”

Zoocasa announces Zoopraisal, a FREE property valuation service.

Ever wonder what your home is worth today?  Or that house down the street?   How about a friend or neighbor’s house?   Finding out would normally involve contacting a realtor for their professional opinion or hiring a professional appraisal.

Well now you can find out on your own.  The release of Zoopraisal, by Zoocasa.com, may have caused some controversy with appraisers but the service is here and it’s getting a lot of attention.

Zoocasa has entered into an agreement with Centract Settlement Services, an appraisal service company that has administered millions of appraisals across Canada.  Here’s a direct quote from Zoocasa.com website “Zoopraisal™ is Zoocasa’s estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula, powered by Centract. It’s a starting point in determining a home’s price.”  (Clearly, Zoopraisal is not guaranteeing the value.  It’s just an estimate…the service provides a range of value.)

Zoocasa.com is an online service that provides access to homes that are listed for sale, online.   The goal of the site is to provide a place where buyers can start their search using the internet.   In my opinion, Zoopraisal will only enhance this service.   This can’t replace a good realtor that’s out there looking to match your needs when buying a house.  I think there are still too many intangibles that come into play.  Local knowledge is invaluable and is something that can’t be uploaded online.

But if we look to the U.S., we’ll find similar sites such as Zillow.com.   This powerful site tells you everything from the selling price to whether it’s being foreclosed, to the Zillow’s estimated value, the price per sq foot, etc.   They also offer mortgage quotes, realtor referrals, etc.   These info sites make their money by charging those that want to advertise or participate on their site.

There is a question as to whether all this information should be made public and whether this infringes on one’s right to privacy.  The debate will continue… One thing is for sure, with pressure from the Competition Bureau on the Canadian Real Estate Association to make it easier to access the MLS, we are definitely headed in a new direction.    There is more access to data.   This is not a bad thing.   More data is better.  It helps to make an informed decision.   Professionals like Realtors, Appraisers and Mortgage Brokers should not be worried.  Their expertise will always be needed.

Watch for more of these sites to pop-up soon in Canada.

CREA and Competition Bureau reach agreement on MLS

A deal was struck earlier this week that will make it easier for seller’s to list their homes on MLS… The Competition Bureau hopes we will see some changes in real estate commissions….click here for the CBC article.

Currently, a seller pays 5% or 6% to sell their home… and that’s been the standard for many years… But with new technology and the internet, we have seen For Sale By Owner companies popping up everywhere.    These companies have not been able to access MLS without employing a realtor.

We all want to save money and pay less… but there is a saying…’you get what you pay for’..    For some, paying a reduced flat fee, and handling viewings, the negotiations, etc, could be worth savings…. but others may not have the expertise, the knowledge or the time to deal with this….

In the end, I think choice is good.   It remains to be seen how many people will move away from the traditional real estate agent and handle things on their own…   Just beware of something that sounds too good to be true…

 

Mls will be more readily available to consumers

On thursday September 30th, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and Competition Bureau of Canada came to an agreement to allow easier access to their Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  More details from the Globe and Mail.

Earlier this year, the Competition Bureau was making a lot of noise for CREA claiming that the MLS should be more readily available to consumers…  it seems this new compromise will allow a seller the option of choosing services from a licensed realtor.  It’s sounding like we could start to see flat fees being charged by companies to list their home on MLS.

Watch for more ‘For Sale By Owner’ companies (FSBO) to pop up in the coming months…. but also beware of deals that sound too good to be true… One of the concerns raised by CREA is that we could see shoddy service and even fraud.  I guess time will tell….  As always, get recommendations, seek professional advice and opinions…

MLS changes not enough according to Competition Bureau

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) members voted for some changes in it’s annual meeting in Ottawa.   The changes were brought in after the Competition Bureau challenged CREA that rules to list on the MLS were too restrictive…..

There were 2 major changes:

-a property can be listed on MLS for a flat fee.

-the agent must now pass along the seller’s phone to the prospective buyer, if the seller chooses.

But the Competition Bureau said these changes didn’t go far enough… click here to read more as reported on CTV.ca.

We’ll be following this story closely… this appears to be a first step in making the MLS more public….stay tuned.

Tighter Mortgage Rules…Higher house prices…Higher home sales..

TIGHTER MORTGAGE RULES

Too many articles this week about possible changes coming from the Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, on budget day March 4th.   Globe and Mail and CTV.ca Where there’s smoke, there’s fire… or at least there is some serious consideration being given to changes in mortgage lending. If you’re a first time homebuyer that’s looking to buy this year, you may want to get your mortgage preapproved sooner than later… talk to your Mortgage Broker.

HIGHER HOME SALES AND HIGHER HOUSE PRICES

And how about the effect of CREA making the MLS public or more accessible?  Will this affect house prices?  Some think it will fuel house price increases…. Read this article from the Financial Post.

Here’s an article from The Star that shouts out ‘home sales skyrocket 87%’.  Wow, that’s a scary number…And here’s another article from The Star that paints a clearer picture… ‘Some encouraging news and numbers’ they say…it can be confusing … but here’s an article with a good graph from  The Financial Post .. look at the figures.. we are still below pre-recession figures…  January 2010 sales were about the same as January 2008 sales..   maybe the market isn’t on fire, maybe it’s just active?

Public mls… $400 flat fee?

Lots of talk about the MLS being challenged to go public or at least become more accessible…. Currently, it’s only available through members.  The Competition Bureau is concerned it may be a monopoly. … read more in the Globe and Mail.  There is talk of a $400 flat fee offer to list your home.

We all want to save money, but be careful…. there is a saying..’You get what you pay for’.

There is also concern that a potentially cheaper MLS will drive house prices higher…. Globe and Mail.

A new Public mls?

Article from Globe and Mail…There has been a lot of pressure on the Canadian Real Estate Association to make the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) more accessible.  The Competition Bureau says Agents that want to charge a flat-fee are being excluded from MLS.   The Competition Bureau says this restricts competition.

This could be the case of winning the battle but losing the war.   A good realtor is someone that can give you the background information about a neighborhood.  All those little things that we forget to ask during the frenzy of negotiating an offer and a mortgage.

Your realtor should be able to tell you about the schools, the local businesses, crime and safety issues, industry concerns, etc.  This is where the true value of a realtor comes in to play.   But I also like freedom of choice… perhaps there is a compromise.

It would be a shame to see a realtor’s services diminished because their incomes go down…  An interesting subject for discussion…

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