Zoocasa - new Canadian real estate search site
Zoocasa is a new company launched on September 11, 2008 by Rogers Communications Inc. It promises "to give all people searching for a home in Canada the ability to easily find homes for sale based on the things they value the most." Although the website is still in "beta" (ie. not yet finished), it does seem to have some decent features, as well as a lot of problems.
Zoocasa allows you to search by the typical information of city, neighbourhood, bedroom count, price, etc. but will also give you some interesting statistics on houses available that match your search criteria, such as listing count, high price, low price, and average price. They all pull data from Wikipedia, giving you an overview of the neighbourhood you are searching, which is a nice feature.
Another nice feature of Zoocasa is automated linking of listings with a Real Estate Agent's facebook profile. While this seems like a fantastic time-saving feature for Realtors (like me) who post everything on Facebook, it doesn't work yet.
But biggest issue on Zoocasa is a lack of listings! There are, as of this moment, 5773 properties for sale in the City of Vancouver (on MLS). Zoocasa brings up just 2814. (Zoocasa results here). Will people use a website to search for property knowing that they're only getting access to less than half of the available listings?
But my personal pet peeve about Zoocasa, and the biggest problem they seem to have, is that my listings are linked back to another Realtor. Now that's annoying. I did email them, twice, about this small glitch and have not received any reply. As there is no phone number or any sort of contact information on their website, it prompted me to do a little research on Zoocasa.com
The domain name, zoocasa.com, is owned by Rogers Communications Inc. (WHOIS). Which is eye-opening. If a corporation as large as Rogers is planning to enter the Real Estate listings market, they could be a force to recon with! Although, from a quick look at their site, they do seem to be contradicting some of Canada's laws for real estate advertising. I guess we'll see what happens.
A quick search of Ontario corporate records shows that the directors of 2167961 Ontario Inc are "Michael Lee" and "William W. Linton". Michael Lee brings up too many Google results to filter.... but add in the search term Rogers, and you will quickly find that Michael Lee is the Chief Strategy Officer for Rogers Communications Inc. and William W. Linton is Roger's CFO. Very interesting.
Zoocasa was incorporated on March 28, 2008 in Ontario and went live on the web on August 9, 2008.
List of 2167961 Inc. (Zoocasa) Directors & Officers:
Nadir H. Mohamed, President & COO (Rogers President & COO)
Michael Lee, Director (Rogers Chief Strategy Officer)
M. Lorraine Daly, Officer (Rogers Vice President/Treasurer)
William W. Linton, Director (Rogers CFO & Vice President, Finance)
David P. Miller, Officer (Rogers Senior VP, General Counsel, Secretary)
As you can tell, although they seem to be trying to keep it quiet, Zoocasa is clearly owned and operated by Rogers Communications.
Once you have this info to start from, searching for more becomes easy. You can read an interesting interview with one of their web developers here: http://www.blogto.com/city/2008/09/zoocasa_aims_to_clean_up_mlss_mess/
The future of Zoocasa is unclear. If they can solve the seemingly insurmountable problem of where to get their listings from, they might have a chance. MLS is not going to share, and is not going away anytime soon! And if they stop annoying Realtors by linking listings to the wrong person, and actually allow Realtors a way to post their listings on Zoocasa, then they might have a chance to at least survive. I guess time will tell.