Buying

Real Estate Sales to Now Indicate School Catchment Area

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In an unprecedented, but welcome move, Realtor.ca has announced that they will start to add school catchment information to the property listing on their site. In essence, within the information offered about the property that is for sale, there will also be information regarding which school district the home falls under, which is indicative of the school your child would attend should you move to that location.

A long-time important consideration for parents and children when it comes to choosing where to live, the move by Realtor.ca to add this convenience to their site is the first part of a partnership with Local Logic. This partnership will see the addition of neighbourhood-specific lifestyle information on the site’s property listing, with schools being top priority.

Understanding Catchment Area

The catchment area is a geographically bound area, marked by specific GPS coordinates, whereby all children in that area attend a specific elementary, middle, and high school. The students who fall outside the area are listed as attendees of a different school, although with some exceptions, students outside of the area can attend. All schools have a catchment area, affiliated with them, and these may change depending on the number of students the school can take on, as well as how close or far the children live to their home.

Choosing a Home

When it comes to choosing a home, there are a lot of factors to consider, including price, age, location, and neighbourhood. And now, increasing numbers of people are looking at the school catchment areas within that neighbourhood. In fact, many parents are choosing where they would like their child to attend school and then only looking for houses in that area. While this makes sense if you are particularly set on a specific school, be aware that catchment areas change and that if the school is already at capacity, your child may be denied attendance and sent to another school which has more space.

Converting to a Sale

From a real estate agent’s perspective, the addition of this new information is not only available for our clients and to maximize their experience, but it also increases lead conversion. The research has shown that when consumers can interact with neighbourhood data, they are “three times more likely to convert into a lead,” and offer a realtor a chance to pursue a sale.

This is good news for the cities where the information is already offered, including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Halifax and several other Ontario suburbs. With the plan to have many more integrated into the system within the next month, there are also plans to offer an additional feature which will allow parents to search for a specific school within the catchment area, or search by school type, such as elementary or high school.

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Early interactions indicate strong engagement with the data, with a high degree of interest from consumers, including parents and young children. It is also proving useful for those people indirectly affected, such as future owners wondering about bus routes or school speed routes that may impact their daily commute time.

If you are looking to find a home in a particular school catchment area, please let me know. I am happy to work with you to identify the location that will best suit your family’s needs and allow your children to attend the most fitting school.

Real Estate Sold Prices Made Public

In a historical move, the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal from the country’s largest real estate board. Up until this week, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has had a ban on publishing real estate numbers and home sales data online.

Beginning the fight in 2011, the TREB appealed the Competition Bureau’s request to have said data published, claiming publication would violate individual consumers’ privacy and copyright. The battle originally started with TREB taking it to the Competition Tribunal and later the Federal Court of Appeal. When both of these organizations sided with the Competition Bureau, the TREB went to the Supreme Court.

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It didn’t end well for the TREB however, an organization that represents more than 50,000 agents across Ontario. On August 23rd, the court refused to hear the case, and dismissed it, ending a battle that has carried on for several years.

The move was significant, because it likely marks the end of the road for TREB’s efforts to prevent the data from being published, and now paves the way for increased transparency in the housing market. More than that though, it sets a precedent for other real estate boards.

Queen’s University professor, John Andrew, denotes that “a lot of local real estate boards were waiting to see what happened with this decision,” and now that it is known, the outcome will impact other boards across Canada. Boards, indicates Andrew, will “no longer try to resist this kind of demand from their own members,” affording individual agents and firms the opportunity to publish and release this kind of information should they choose to.

And for consumers, the choice is beneficial as well. With an increased level of transparency and honesty towards housing prices, sales figures, and market trends, future buyers and sellers can have a more accurate picture of the market and where it is and where it is going. This bodes well for individuals in the throes of deciding to sell or buy, as well as those with investment properties that may or may not be having the revenue turnover they expect.

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Dubbed as a ‘hugely important’ real estate data battle, experts predict that realtors will at quickly, with large numbers of agents posting data in the next 60 days, as required by the Competition Tribunals order. This will mean buyers and sellers have access to the information and can educate themselves on how to best price their home, how to negotiate through sale prices and what buyers should be expecting to pay.

While up until now, consumers would require the services of an agent or broker who could access the Multiple Listing Service database for relevant selling and buying information, this move by the Supreme Court opens up a level playing field for agents and buyers. And while some agents are concerned that consumers having access to this information will jeopardize the need for an agent, I disagree.

And RE/MAX director Christopher Alexander concurs: “good, experienced realtors are a lot more valuable” than simply the information itself.

If you want to learn more about how this decision impacts you as a buyer, seller or home owner, please reach out to me. I would love to help and offer further insight or answer your questions.

Why You Might Want to Buy a House Right Now

Why You Might Want to Buy a House Right Now

For many people, summer is the time to hit pause, sit back, relax, take some extra time with family, and spend a few days with the kids while they are on school holidays. And while it sounds like a great thing to do, it isn’t the best plan for people looking to sell their home: in July and August, home sales slow down dramatically, coming off a busy spring, and now highly sought-after houses sit on the market, because would-be owners are on vacation.

But what is bad news for sellers is great news for buyers. If you are thinking about buying a home, August is the time to do it.