in Canada

homezilla.com – know your neighborhood when buying a home

HomeZilla, a real-estate companion site, is launching publicly today. When I first saw the site back in February of this year, it still had a long way to go in terms of usability, and it looks like they have really been working hard in the time since then.

It is practically impossible to do anything worthwhile online for the real-estate market in Canada. The Multiple Listings Service is a monopoly and the ultimate gatekeeper of listings data. They protect themselves with anti-competitive contracts and stifle any sort of innovation. They regularly shut down websites and startups who come up against them. The most famous of which was the Real Estate Plus project by Bell Canada.

So, what do you do if you are passionate about this market, but can’t play fair? You go around the bullies and provide value in other ways.

HomeZilla provides neighborhood information that helps you make a decision about where you want to buy. Where are my local pubs? Schools? Child Care? LCBO? It is all in there.

The Toronto based company has a lot of work ahead of them to get exposure during a time that has seen real estate purchased drop like a rock in Toronto (down 22% to 30% by some estimates) and other cities. That said, I think HomeZilla will play an even more important role for a new type of buyer who will be a lot more picky about where they are purchasing, and they will have time to browse around, rather than bidding on every house that comes on the market.

I do not know exactly what HomeZilla’s revenue model is, but I can think of a handful of obvious opportunities to provide add-on value for real estate agents.

Personally, I think we need more startups like this, who demonstrate the possibilities of what can be done in the real estate space, and who I hope will collectively give a big middle finger to the MLS monopoly.

HomeZilla was founded by former Yahoo! manager Sandy Ward, who recently returned to Toronto from San Francisco.

  • http://bart.whahay.net Bartek

    It’s slow and the “More info” is buggy, just seems to show duplicate content and on one of them I got linked to Google’s AJAX FAQ (what the hell?)

  • truebosko

    It's slow and the “More info” is buggy, just seems to show duplicate content and on one of them I got linked to Google's AJAX FAQ (what the hell?)

  • Rob Lantz

    I’ve found that similar services give sketchy results, and this one is no exception. For example, a search for Parks in Charlottetown shows “Montague Recreational Park” on Passmore Street in downtown Charlottetown, when in fact, Montague is 45kms away, in another county. On top of this, well-known parks like Victoria Park and Confederation Landing Park don’t even show up. Was going to pass this along to my wife, who is a real estate agent, but it needs some fine tuning.

  • Rob Lantz

    I've found that similar services give sketchy results, and this one is no exception. For example, a search for Parks in Charlottetown shows “Montague Recreational Park” on Passmore Street in downtown Charlottetown, when in fact, Montague is 45kms away, in another county. On top of this, well-known parks like Victoria Park and Confederation Landing Park don't even show up. Was going to pass this along to my wife, who is a real estate agent, but it needs some fine tuning.

  • http://jeffroach.ca/ @jeffroach

    Is this service ready to be used? I put in several addresses across the country and nothing came up.

  • Jeff

    Is this service ready to be used? I put in several addresses across the country and nothing came up.

  • http://www.homezilla.ca/ Sandy

    Thanks for the feedback! We make sure that our data gets better everyday. This does take time but it is the only way to do.

    @jeff Can you give examples of address that we couldn’t find? In addition to our own geocoded data we also use Yahoo! and Google!’s geocoders together. Any address they can find we should be able to find.

  • http://www.homezilla.ca/ Sandy

    Thanks for the feedback! We make sure that our data gets better everyday. This does take time but it is the only way to do.

    @jeff Can you give examples of address that we couldn't find? In addition to our own geocoded data we also use Yahoo! and Google!'s geocoders together. Any address they can find we should be able to find.

  • http://www.chimneylinerdepot.ca/store/ chimney liner

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  • http://www.chimneylinerdepot.ca/store/ chimney liner

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  • Cornel

    How good are the schools in the Rathkeale area near Creditview/Eglington? Please share your ideas on both the Public and Catholic schools there.

  • Cornel

    How good are the schools in the Rathkeale area near Creditview/Eglington? Please share your ideas on both the Public and Catholic schools there.

  • Cornel

    How good are the schools in the Rathkeale area near Creditview/Eglington? Please share your ideas on both the Public and Catholic schools there.