The Silicon Review
The multibillion-dollar Canadian real estate market houses financial debt, equity growth, emotional commitment and complex transactions. At any given point there are hundreds of thousands of residential properties listed for sale and hundreds of thousands of eager but often overwhelmed homebuyers trying to navigate the myriad of options to find the “right one”.
Nationally, there are a handful of listing sites in the Canadian real estate segment, but www.Real-Estate.ca stands out from the rest. Real-Estate.ca is a syndication site serving Canadian homebuyers from Coast to Coast. Major centers include Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, and Ottawa. www.Real-Estate.ca offers an easy-to-navigate, intuitive search of residential real estate listings for sale.
To the homebuyer, it is an up-to-date, easy to navigate, mobile-friendly resource to comb through the multitudes of homes for sale. To the agent looking to do more business, it’s a low-cost, risk-free way to connect with potential clients. To the company, it was an opportunity to bridge a knowledge gap. To simplify the information dissemination process. To provide an easy alternative that helps agents who are good at what they do, be successful at what they do. And, in a very congruent manner, Real-Estate.ca assists buyers in talking to proficient, caring agents to help guide them through the often-complex process.
In conversation with Christopher Audette, Founder of www.Real-Estate.ca
Q. Can you tell us about the journey of your company to date?
A little over a decade ago, I started a real estate lead generation company in Calgary Alberta. In 2015 we acquired the domain www.Real-Estate.ca as part of our national rollout of a listings syndication site. It’s basically a 3rd party portal to multiple real estate boards and the Canadian Real Estate Association’s Direct Distribution Feed. When we formed the company, there was a real gap between user-friendly sites and search-engine-optimized sites. So, in 2016 we started re-coding an old site, integrated a national feed, and built out the vital community content pages. It was far from flawless, as we weighed completely revamping the basic site organization and architecture or piece meal it; mixing the vast amounts of additional content into our existing and often conflicting architecture. To be frank, it was straight-up messy and convoluted, but we couldn’t risk losing the organic traffic we had earned. Four years later, we are at the point where we can backtrack and clean up what the rapid expansion muddied. Our competition is no longer lax like it once was; mediocre used to pass but no longer does. The user now has more and greater options. They have greater expectations, and rightly so.
Q. What makes www.Real-Estate.ca relevant in today’s real estate scene? Could you give us some context?
While I would love to say that homebuyers use our site religiously… To be frank, there is only one website that homebuyers use day in and day out in their search. Google. On Google.ca, users will search things like “Calgary homes for sale” or “Toronto real estate” and will click on the first links to see if it holds what they want. Then they’ll go back onto Google and start the process again with similar terms or more refined terms such as “Altadore luxury condos for sale in Calgary” then, they will click onto new results, which are quite often the same websites, and continue to narrow down their search. We have been fortunate from very early on in our site development that we like Google, and Google likes us. That means we get a significant number of homebuyers onto our site.
Q. How do you optimize and update the data regularly? How do you gather insight?
As with anything, the value is not in the data; it’s in what you do with the data and its interpretation. While I would love to say we do an amazing job of fully utilizing that data to the masses, we don’t; we’re just really at the cusp of beginning to explore the potential. As part of that, our A.I. rollout will factor in.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful CEO?
Accountability, accountability, and accountability. When used properly, it is the foundation of all personal and professional improvement; it is also the most empowering tool you can possess. By looking at all things accountably (positive or negative… or perceived positive or negative), you can look at how you can gain more control and or influence over those situations, or even over how they act or react based on your actions or reactions. We can’t change others, but we can change what we think, feel and do around others, and that affects and therefore changes others. Never underestimate your own power.
Q. Do you have any new services that are in development?
I’m excited about two new initiatives we’re launching. Real-Estate.ca is incorporating artificial intelligence that will “read” and interpret the details and nuances of a property’s images. The A.I. will give the user the ability to filter and segment listings in ways that no other site has the capacity to do. It will allow the users to simplify their search process and quickly hone in on what is important to them. If a homebuyer can pick a filter in the search, say “condition=good,” they can eliminate many properties that are not relevant. Or perhaps they only want “condition=poor” as they are looking for a renovation or flip project to strip down to the studs and create something new. I think we’re just touching the surface on what is possible with the integration of this new A.I. technology. It will allow so much, like showing more homes with “contemporary architecture” in Springbank Hill, with 3500 square feet plus and a walkout basement. Or even better, show me listings with a kitchen that resembles the one that I am looking at right now. That is some pretty cool stuff. The other one is www.New.ca. www.New.ca is a project that is early in beta, but we are hoping to launch out next year. It will cater to the homebuyer looking for new communities, new infills, or new developments, including pre-construction and/or newer, and built resale all in one convenient location online.
In the digital world we live in, businesses and consumers are overwhelmed by the amount of information and technology that are readily available on the internet. The influence the internet has on the world is clearly visible as it touches all aspects of our lives. But the addition of more data and more tech is not always better. It’s the functionality and usability of this combination that makes a difference. The world is rapidly moving towards digitalization, so it is very important for both REALTORS® and homebuyers to embrace the change.