Dec 2 2009
The number one visited real estate website in Canada, Realtor.ca by CREA is going mobile. The beta release went live to the public yesterday and is located at http://beta1.mobile.realtor.ca .
From my initial testing, the beta site is really bad. Firstly, there is no location based awareness (maybe this would require a downloadable application) so the site begins by asking for an MLS #. For the 99% of individuals who aren’t ready with a memorized MLS#, there is the option to ‘Search Locations’. Unfortunately, searching by location is not much better. I tried searching houses in Toronto and was told my search returned more than 500 results and I must try again. I tried searching neighbourhood ‘Yorkville’ and was told “Your search did not return any results, please refine your search criteria.’ I tried searching neighborhood ‘The Annex’ and was told the same. Then I gave up -at least the site is in beta.
This ‘going mobile’ move by Realtor.ca is an indication that CREA realizes it must be proactive and competitive in their offering to agents and consumers. They realize they have the number one spot now in Canada for online real estate search but that this privileged position is based more on their monopoly over listing data as opposed to an easy of use site or innovative product. They also realize that there is mounting pressure to allow greater public access to their listing data and that competitors such as Zoocasa or the potential Canadian arrival of a US real estate search engine such as Trulia could knock them out of the top spot.
My advice to CREA and Realtor.ca is to pull up their socks and work better and faster. Realtor.ca mobile has a long way to go and others are catching up.