Vancouver-based startup EstateBlock is a nice tool for homebuyers in the Lower Mainland area.
The site is calling itself the biggest online homes for sale database for the Lower Mainland area, and it uses heat maps to show demographics, crime, schools, daycares, transit, climate, market trends and more.
Launched in June, founder Vadim Marusin’s bootstrapped database lists both current homes and future homes under construction, provides all necessary details including price and size, and shows different mortgage rate comparisons from competing companies. Users can add different condos and homes to their list of favourites and compare any of them together.
The maps function might be the most impressive, as Marusin said new home buyers are often concerned about what school district area their new home will lie in. With EstateBlock they have that knowledge though. “When home buyers are looking for a property they know already what school their child will go to and what the rating of the school is and what the exam marks are in math or English,” said the 30-year-old. “This information is unique and we collected it from scratch.”
In fact, the information-collecting task took him nearly two years. He collected maps of the school area boundaries, some of which were electronic, some of which were hand-drawn. Needless to say, “it was a lot of work.”
The motivation came when Marusin and his wife were looking at homes in Florida a few years ago, and were impressed with nearly a dozen US-based websites that showed the functionalities to be able to compare different homes in different areas. Nothing like that existed at the time for Canadian listings, so Marusin set to work.
If a user has searched for new condos in North Vancouver, from the price range of $200,000 to $300,000, several REALTOR® listings will show. Once they’ve selected a desired condo, they can click on “go see this home,” which is where Marusin’s wife comes in as a registered realtor. (The startup serves as both an information portal and an active brokerage intermediary. In the near future the pair will be opening their own brokerage.)
Because the pair has worked with Vancouver-area realtors for years, Marusin claims that the site automatically finds “the best realtors in British Columbia to serve you.” Not a bad deal. A recent Globe and Mail article even quoted Marusin on his opinion of where potential home buyers should look. “If we are talking about Metro Vancouver, the hottest areas are Richmond downtown, Vancouver downtown, and Vancouver west, mostly large low-rises,” he told the Globe.
Like any modern purchase, users will always do their homework online first, and Marusin is betting that when it comes to home purchasing in the Lower Mainland area this will be the case. And if they desire a realtor along the way, they can have that too.
“More and more home buyers are looking online before they consult a realtor, and that’s the key in this business. They want to search by themselves.”