‘Every month we’re adding new features. We always provide new tools to the realtors first, and after a while we provide it to the consumers.’
The made-in-Montreal Centris.ca online real estate property portal is branching out to new markets outside of Quebec. First stop: Vancouver. Next stop: the world.
A subsidiary of the non-profit Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers, Centris is a real-estate technology company headquartered in Nuns Island that builds digital tools and other resources for homebuyers and real estate brokers. Its real estate listing website, centris.ca, is the most popular site of its kind in Quebec.
Last Tuesday, Centris, announced it will now also power the new version of realtylink.org, the property search website for the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, a professional association representing more than 14,000 realtors in B.C.
According to Centris president Éric Charbonneau, the technology partnership is the first time the company has ventured beyond Quebec, but it won’t be the last. Charbonneau said talks are already underway with potential partners in France, Belgium and China to bring Centris’s platform to new markets overseas.
Charbonneau said the reason is simple: web development is costly. Reselling the Centris platform to partners in other markets opens a new revenue stream that can fund continued innovation of the platform.
“It’s expensive to continue to develop a website, but to add another customer doesn’t cost a lot, it’s just customization,” Charbonneau explained. “At the end of the day it means a better site for Quebec realtors.”
Charbonneau said Centris has pioneered many new features that set a new standard for similar platforms, such as realtor.ca, the most popular national real estate listings website. Because realtor.ca, which is owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association, and Centris share much of the same data, he said the main difference between the sites is the user experience.
That’s one of the reasons Centris was one of the first in Canada to integrate lifestyle-oriented search features on its platform, Charbonneau said. The company was an early partner with WalkScore (walkscore.com) to help buyers find pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods, as well as Local Logic (locallogic.co), a Montreal company that provides hyperlocal data on schools, grocery stores, transit services and other essential neighbourhood features.
Centris also launched an exclusive community profile tool last year, which provides buyers with demographic and socioeconomic data on regions and municipalities from Statistics Canada, so they can get a better sense of what kind of people live in an area of interest.
Charbonneau said the ability to filter properties by the lifestyle factors that matter to buyers has been hugely popular, so Centris has been pushing even farther on that front.
Earlier this year, the portal added the ability for buyers to clock the commute from a prospective home to their office, daycare or any other address that matters to them. Another recent addition was the ability for buyers to see which schools a property is zoned for. The next step, he said, is to build search filters that would allow buyers to see only properties within a 30-minute drive to work, or that are zoned for the school of their choice.
Charbonneau said a number of new features are in the works right now, including better integration of 360-degree photos and virtual tours, making it easier for buyers and realtors to share properties of interest with each other, improvements to the mobile experience, and still more local area information to come.
“Every month we’re adding new features,” Charbonneau said. “We always provide new tools to the realtors first, and after a while we provide it to the consumers.”