Site of the week: WalkScore.com

Walk Score

Are you looking at a house or an apartment and want to know how walkable the area is? Or are you a real estate professional who wants to be able to give your clients extra incentive to move to a specific area? Then you need to bookmark WalkScore.com today.

Walk Score ranks the “walkability” of neighbourhoods with a number between 0 (meaning the area is very car-dependent) and 100 (a “walker’s paradise”). The site takes into account how close restaurants, grocery stores, schools, coffee shops, and other amenities are, and whether you can walk to get most of your daily needs or not. They also rate how transit and bike friendly the neighbourhood is. How it works in their own words:

For each address, Walk Score analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance to the amenities in each category. Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are awarded maximum points. For larger areas such as cities or neighborhoods, we calculate a population-weighted score.

Renters can search for available apartments based on an address or neighbourhood or by how far you want to commute. Each listing shows all the amenities nearby and how far you can walk or bike in the area based on a specific time you set.

For real estate professionals, Walk Score offers free features like neighbourhood maps and badges you can use on your site or listings, and the ability to become a guide for a specific neighbourhood. All things that will only help give you an edge above the competition (especially if you primarily work with condos).

There’s a lot of other great features Walk Score offers once you explore it. As a bonus, there’s also an iPhone and Android app available.

Let me know your thoughts on Walk Score. Do you feel it’s something you would use or recommend? Leave a comment below, drop me an email at brian@bamcat.com or Tweet me @bamcat.

Site of the week: ClosingCosts.ca

ClosingCosts.ca screenshot

After buying and selling three houses in the last 7 years, it’s safe to say I pretty much enjoy all aspects of the real estate industry. Except for one (and it’s a big one) — figuring out closing costs! Even when working with a mortgage broker there can still be surprises (such as the dreaded double land transfer tax in Toronto). Now there is a site that will help you figure it all out in advance so you don’t have to worry about coming up short in end.

ClosingCosts.ca is a very clean and well designed site that allows you to enter the details of the property you’re buying or selling to get an overview of what you’ll need to fork over upon the closing of the sale. The site also takes into account home inspectors and lawyers and even has quotes from partner providers based on the info you enter. And it’s all Canadian!

Besides the calculator tools, ClosingCosts.ca has sections for buyers and sellers that is packed with lots of great information (they even a section on refinancing). You can of course find the best mortgage rates available and get even more tips via their blog (their post on renovations that won’t increase the value of your home is worth reading).

Since the site is fairly new it does have a few minor bugs, but nothing major. I am surprised by the lack of an app to support it, which I’m sure we’ll see released as the site gains more users. Either way, it’s becoming a vital tool for me and will only be more relevant down the road when I’m ready to buy/sell again.

Let me know your thoughts on ClosingCosts.ca. Do you feel it’s something you would use or recommend? Leave a comment below, drop me an email at brian@bamcat.com or Tweet me @bamcat.

This is how you sell houses now

Sage Real Estate is a boutique brokerage in Toronto that has made a name for themselves because of their amazing marketing skills, especially when it comes to digital marketing. They constantly make headlines and are quite often used when local news requires a “real estate expert”.

I first heard of Sage after they released this very slick video for one of their listings last year. Calling it a “video” doesn’t do it justice though, as this is a high-quality film with a good-looking lead, beautiful camera work, catchy music, and a great dog (kudos to Mark Wilson/PropertyFilms.ca for the production quality).

When asked about the inspiration for doing the video, Evan Sage of Sage Real Estate told Inman News “We believe that we are in the business of selling lifestyles, not just four walls and a roof. So when developing a marketing campaign for a listing, we try to focus it on who the buyer is, and we do whatever we can to speak to their lifestyle.”

And that’s exactly the strategy required to sell houses quickly in a crazy market like Toronto now (the house was listed at $1.5M CDN and sold in just over a week after the buyer saw the video).

Take a look at the video above and let me know your thoughts. Think this is overkill? Think real estate professionals should be doing more unique marketing ventures like this? Drop me a line in the comments, via email at brian@bamcat.com or Tweet me @bamcat.