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Posts tagged ‘CREA’

Lindsay Day – 2 Years Later and Buziak’s Murder Still Unsolved

Lindsay Buziak: Still No Arrests In Murder Case

As long as I write this blog, I’m certain to never forget that two years ago today, February 2nd, is the day that Lindsay Buziak, a 24 year old real estate agent from Victoria, was murdered in the house she was showing to prospective buyers.

In the month or so before the anniversary of her death, searches for “Lindsay Buziak” and related keywords surrounding the case show up with increasing frequency on my blog stats because of what I wrote the days after the murder and on the one-year anniversary in 2009.

It’s only natural I guess – people scouring the Internet for information on the case: clues, speculation or rumours. I’d like to think that some of the traffic is law enforcement, hoping that somebody somewhere has posted a new tip or clue about the case.

Because it’s ridiculous that the police have next to nothing to go on. She was killed in the early evening in a residential neighbourhood where people would be getting home from work. Somebody saw something. Somebody knows something that will lead to an arrest. Saanich Police concede that she was intentionally targeted and that the murder was planned many weeks in advance. You can’t plan something like that and have no one know about it.

“Lindsay was intentionally targeted, she was intentionally lured to the home and she was intentionally killed.” – Saanich Police spokeswoman Sgt. Julie Fast.

Lindsay’s family has announced a reward of $100,000 for information leading to an arrest. The Victoria Real Estate Board and the Canadian Real Estate Association have each contributed $25,000 to the reward pool, in a show of support. What happened to Lindsay, while not a direct result of her profession, could happen to any of us in real estate. All too often we get complacent in the chase for another deal. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it – listen to your instincts.

I really hope I never have to write another Lindsay Day post on this blog. Please, if you know anything about this case, no matter how small it may seem, call the Saanich Police tip line at 250-475-4356.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Realtor.ca Now Sucks Even Less!

I had posted about a month or so ago about how the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) had listened to consumers and REALTORS® nationwide and made some much needed improvements to its much-maligned REALTOR.ca experience.

Last Thursday, additional improvements were rolled out to REALTOR.ca which should improve the user experience even more.

A new Gallery View display will show up to 12 photos of the property (assuming there are that many on the listing) over the interactive map display. Look for the button at the upper right of the map page.

Thumbnail View display will provide 12 property photos at a time with the property description and links to other features like virtual tours or other multimedia. The button to enable this feature is also located in the upper right of the map page.

Unless you’re using Safari on a Mac, you’ll notice that the “save search” function has been moved to a more prominent place on the page, making it easier to find and use to save your favourite searches. Safari users will notice this enhancement at a later date.

Searching by MLS® number should also work better.

Firefox 3 users should also notice that the site works better for them.

Last but not least, searching by neighbourhood name should also be getting better. This was a great frustration for many users used to searching on MLS.ca by clicking on the MLS district name (for example Victoria-Fairfield or Sooke-Whiffen Spit). A reminder from CREA that if you’re searching a specific area by name and don’t get the expected results, send them an e-mail at helpdesk@crea.ca with the details and they will follow up to make sure it gets added to the database.

As always, if you’re having trouble with REALTOR.ca, contact me at 250-885-0512 or using the previous link and I’ll help you set up a real estate search on my client portal which will e-mail you new listings and price changes that match your criteria. With so many listings on the market, a REALTOR® can really help narrow it down to find the place that’s right for you.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Think Realtor.ca Sucks? It Will Get Better Soon

Actual Users, Maude and Bill

Actual Users, Maude and Bill

Since the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) replaced the much-loved MLS.ca with the (so far) much-maligned REALTOR.ca last month, they’ve had nothing but complaints from everyone who uses it (consumers) and everyone who benefits from it (REALTORS® in Canada).

I can understand the domain name switch. Since its inception, MLS.ca has never been all that clear that it is a service provided by REALTORS® in Canada, and the switch to REALTOR.ca takes care of that. And I do believe it was time for a technology update – MLS.ca was pretty old-school.

But it worked, and it was simple. CREA threw the baby out with the bathwater on this one.

Yesterday, I noticed an update on our REALTOR® intranet, which outlined a few changes that will take place later this month, which should help to improve the overall user experience.

Users may have noticed that there is a limit on how far you can zoom into the interactive map. You can zoom only so far, and then it sort of bounces back to the limited zoom level. Effective November 20th, this restriction will be removed. This should help alleviate the “500 property” warning because you will be able to zoom down to reduce the number of properties displayed on the map. The map will also stop “yo-yo-ing”  as users reach the zoom limit and it snaps back to a wider view.

A big complaint has been the clunky way that neighbourhoods are handled. CREA assumed everyone would enjoy zooming down into the specific neighbourhood that they were interested in. This is in contrast to the old static MLS.ca maps where you could drill down to the specific MLS zones set up by the various real estate boards. For example, you could click BC–> Vancouver Island/Smaller Islands –> Victoria–> Sooke–> Broom Hill to see all the listings in that MLS zone. The Realtor.ca experience so far has been limited. The site was launched before many of these neighbourhoods could be defined in the database. So when somebody searched for Broom Hill, they might get the actual geographical feature rather than the MLS zone of the same name – clearly a problem. CREA has identified and added some 3500 of these areas since October 2nd, and will continue to add more as the local real estate boards provide the data. The Victoria Real Estate Board has been on this since day one and many of our MLS sub-areas are already in the CREA database. This is probably the largest issue with the site, and it will get better.

The issue of limited/no compatibility with non-Internet Explorer web browsers (Firefox, Safari, etc) is also being worked on. Thank-you, CREA, for no longer excluding some 47% of browser market share 😉

2008 IE7 IE6 Chrome FireFox Moz Safari O
October 26.9% 20.2% 3.0% 44.0% 0.4% 2.8% 2.2%
September 26.3% 22.3% 3.1% 42.6% 0.5% 2.7% 2.0%

There have also been complaints that photos are too small (I agree!), thumbnail information that pops up when you mouse over a property on the map is insufficient (probably), and that the listings are just too hard to find. There are changes that are being tested to address these issues as well.

Specifically in our marketplace, one of the problems has been that too many listings have appeared in the “not mapped” column which makes them extremely hard to find. This was caused by our previous MLS back-end software, which had an antiquated procedure for placing properties on a map. Also, the default data setting was to not supply an address to MLS.ca. With our new MLS system, the default is reversed, and all of the old listings were automatically mapped by address and postal code as they were imported into the new database, so that should solve most of the problem.

We want REALTOR.ca to work. Believe me. CREA spends millions of our (the REALTORS®) dollars to create and operate that site for the benefit of consumers. Canada is lucky to have it. There is no equivalent in the U.S., where MLS data is sometimes split across different websites for one city, let alone the entire country like we have here. I believe that once the bugs are worked out, REALTOR.ca will be far superior to MLS.ca

Questions? Comments? Post them below (or click through to the post if you’re reading this in a reader).

If you’re still having trouble with REALTOR.ca or would like more detailed information than it provides,  I can set up a private client portal for you to view the Sooke or Victoria MLS listings. Give me a call any time at 250-885-0512, fill in my buyer’s form, or shoot me an e-mail at Tim@TimAyres.ca. My services are available to buyers at no cost.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Housing Sales Forecast Skyrockets

Good news home owners! More evidence of Canada’s continuing insulation from the housing troubles in the USA comes in today’s Times Colonist newspaper. Our booming economy, strong dollar, and exploding job market are all combining to propel our housing market to new highs, despite the challenges faced by our cousins to the south. – Tim Ayres

Anne Howland
CanWest News Service
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

OTTAWA — Exceptional strength in Canada’s resale housing market in the first six months of the year prompted the Canadian Real Estate Association yesterday to more than double its forecast for sales increases in 2007, the second time this year the association has revised its predictions upward. The news comes amid a growing crisis in the U.S. housing market, with prices falling and the number of defaults rising. The situation helped create the current meltdown of the U.S. subprime mortgage market, which made loans to high-risk people who are now unable to meet their financial commitments. The resulting investor unease spread from the subprime market to other areas of the American financial system and to markets worldwide, sending indexes on a freefall last week.

In Canada, national home sales are now forecast to rise by 8.1 per cent in 2007 to 523,100 units and set new annual records in most provinces, CREA said. In May, it had forecast a 2007 sales increase of 3.6 per cent, which was an update on its original 2007 forecast issued in February. At that time, CREA had predicted that sales activity this year would drop 1.6 per cent from 2006.

“The housing market has caught everyone by surprise,” said CREA chief economist Gregory Klump. “Everyone expected a gradual cooling in the second quarter, but [the market] heated up instead.

“We’ve changed our forecast to reflect reality,” Klump said, adding the market has now seen two consecutive record-breaking quarters. “Resale housing activity was a juggernaut in the second quarter of 2007.”

Next year, sales activity is forecast to edge slightly lower, but still reach the second highest annual level on record in almost all provinces. CREA had initially called for sales activity to cool 2.8 per cent in 2008, but is now calling for only a two-per-cent decline.

Prices are also forecast to set new records in every province this year and next, but price increases will be smaller in 2008, the association said. It is now looking for a 10.4-per-cent price increase for 2007, up from its previous forecast of 9.5 per cent. The price increase forecast of 5.5 per cent for 2008 has remained the same, Klump said.

The Canadian housing market has shrugged off the problems that have been experienced in the U.S., said Ann Bosley, CREA president.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007