The top 5 real estate listings sites in Toronto
The top real estate listings sites in Toronto afford prospective home buyers in a level of knowledge that wasn't easily achievable a few years ago. It used to be that the only way you can learn about properties to buy in the city was through a licensed agent or broker or a really well connected friend. But times have changed. The internet is slowly revolutionizing how we discover and shop for our next home and we, as buyers, are gaining more and more access to information than ever before.
The real estate market in Canada may not be as open as the US, where buyers south of the border benefit from a wide array of real estate sites like Zillow or Trulia, but we are not without options here in Toronto.
Here are five sites (listed in no particular order) you need to visit when thinking about buying your next house or condo.
Dirt is a social community where members share information about condos around the city. Users contribute to Dirt by adding buildings, sharing pictures and providing building details. They can also "follow" buildings to keep on top of activity from the community and can even give "props" to a building to indicate its popularity. The site is a great place to get the inside scoop on buildings but currently doesn't match this with listing details which could take it to a whole new level. It could also benefit from a mobile app to let users take photos of buildings and post them while out and about.
The Red Pin boasts the largest selection of active listings of any other site catering to the Greater Toronto area - 60% more listings than on MLS, according to their marketing intro. The database includes both active MLS listings as well as new development projects. On top of a large database, TheRedPin really adds value in the additional information they provide for each listing. Users have quick access to local information such as gas stations and grocery stores as well as the whereabouts and ratings of the nearest schools and daycares. For new developments, the site also gives investment information such as price changes and market activity. Sadly this site isn't optimized for mobile nor do they have a mobile app to help with buyers on the go.
Created by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Realtor.ca is the go-to site for buyers to get direct access to the public version of MLS. The site may not be as user-friendly as some of the others but the value of this website is the database which is made up of listings registered with licensed agents and brokers. The site is, at best, functional. It covers the necessities of search and provides the components we have come to expect in a listing. Where Realtor.ca succeeds is as a free mobile app available for all major platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and BlackBerry. The app leverages the smartphones GPS to find properties and open houses nearby as well as other helpful features such as driving directions.
Owned by Rogers, Zoocasa aims to be the Canadian version of the popular US real estate site, Zillow. The site's tagline is "home search with smarts" and its in the additional information that Zoocasa provides that really sets it apart from the rest. Zoocasa's local information tab is pretty impressive and is an extremely factual way to get to know whom you are going to be living around if you were to move into the neighborhood. Demographic information about the area such as average household income, most common occupations and educational level are details not commonly found on other real estate sites. The wealth of information is fantastic but the amount of detail on each listing page makes it hard to focus, and even find, the basics like room sizes and property description. Zoocasa does offer a free iPhone and iPad app which ironically only provides the basics for each listing and doesn't feature any of the "smarter" elements which makes the website so unique.
If you are in the market for new homes and condos then Homebuyers.com is a good place to start. Homebuyers.com features over 6,000 listings of Canada's newest residential listings. The site is very straightforward. Unlike others in this list it utilizes only a list view for search results rather than using a map. But, it does its job in getting users the necessary information they need to know about new developments. One handy feature is the ability to sign-up for alerts to get new listings that meet your criteria delivered to your inbox as they become available. Homebuyers.com also offers a free app for the iPhone and iPad which leverages GPS to help show you the nearest new home and condo developments in both map and list view.
Do you have a favourite site to use for real estate listings in Toronto? Add it to the comment thread below.
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