Consumers are increasingly turning to the web for mortgage and real-estate information. Toronto is home to a number of new startups who cater to the online real estate and mortgage shopper. Whether you are comparison shopping for the best mortgage rate, looking for brokers to bid on your mortgage, or a condo developer looking to list new buildings and condo units for free - there’s a startup in Toronto that can help you out.
I spoke with a few of these startups to find out what's new:
1) RateHub.ca is a free mortgage rate comparison website that aggregates the lowest posted competitive mortgage rates provided by banks, brokers and lenders on one easy-to-use platform. RateHub has strategic partnerships with real estate listing websites like BuzzBuzzHome.com and Zoocasa.com, as well as individual realtor sites.
RateHub’s mortgage rates can be viewed side-by-side with home listings, so that buyers can easily evaluate what they can afford. RateHub’s revenue model is based on a cost-per-lead fee to mortgage providers.
Founded in August 2010 by Alyssa Richard, the website has just launched the next generation of mortgage calculators. Their new mortgage calculator enables first-time home buyers to calculate all of the costs associated with home ownership.
This means that their calculator includes mandatory CMHC insurance and land transfer tax by province. Users are able to select from current mortgage rates and can compare down payment levels, amortization periods, and payment frequencies. Options are laid out across multiple columns, so potential home buyers can evaluate different financing scenarios.
2) BuzzBuzzHome.com is Canada's premier online free listing of all new residential real-estate (high-rise and low-rise) founded by Matthew Slutsky and Clifford Peskin. The website also functions as a social networking destination for people looking to buy new condos and for realtors and building developers.
Slutsky, who was previously VP of Development for a major Toronto land development firm specializing in luxury condominiums, told me “that there was definitely a gap that needed to be filled in the new condo development listings space online.” So, he and Peskin, who previously founded Nutrition in Motion Ltd, took the idea and ran with it.
BuzzBuzzHome launched just over a year and a half ago and already has over 100,000 unique monthly visitors. In addition, their blog was recently named one of the top 11 real-estate blogs in North America. Slutsky says that there is still a lot of opportunity for growth in the social media space for the real estate sector and “builders need to jump on board quickly.”
3) RateSheet.ca is Canada’s first mortgage auction website that just launched out of beta last week. Users can post their mortgage application via a form on the website and then brokers bid with their lowest rates to try and win the business.
Vik Palan, RateSheet’s founder and President told me that the “website aims to make the mortgage buying process hassle free.” The website saves the mortgage consumer time and frustration as it “eliminates the need to visit multiple offices and agents in person to obtain rate quotes. It also provides a huge lead generation opportunity for brokers as the clients come to them online without having to do any initial marketing.”
Customers can leave reviews on RateSheet.ca about the brokers that they’ve worked with in the past. This system helps brokers to build trust and credibility with potential customers. The website makes money by charging brokers a flat fee on a “per bid” basis.
Let us know what websites you visit to make your home buying decisions?