#11 First Foundation
The Edmonton-based financial services company First Foundation works in the field of mortgages, insurance, and financial advice and bears a catchy claim "big enough to save you money, but small enough to know your name." Its blog mainly focuses on these topics, yet it brings a large amount of interesting information about the Canadian real estate market. Probably the most interesting series of articles is called Housing Market Outlook, which gathers information from various sources. Each article focuses on the real estate market of a certain Canadian city during a selected period. Other topics include mortgages, finance, simple everyday advice like getting your car ready for winter, or just personal thoughts — for example, about the author's fear of mice. This blog is one of the few that actually has an eye-pleasing and modern responsive design and is also present on a majority of the most popular social networks.
Don't we all love Toronto? Heather Hadden is one of Sotheby's young rising stars with a focus on young families and mothers-to-be. But that doesn't mean you won't encounter other topics as well. Regular monthly real estate infographics, reports, and invitations to events or exhibitions, articles on the history of Toronto, shopping recommendations, and tips for young moms are what makes I Love Toronto interesting. The site itself is very intuitive to handle and pleasant to browse through. ILT is active on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Let's start with something negative this time — where's the blog? When you arrive at this relatively new condo review platform and start looking for a blog, you wouldn't be the first one lost in your quest. To access the blog, you have to scroll down and there it is — hidden in the bottom right corner of the main page. The main aim of Dirt is to provide an inside scoop on buildings (even those that are not in the listings right now). As a social community, members share information and photos. On the one hand, the blog itself isn't updated as regularly as it should be. The last post is from September 2013. On the other hand, the articles about urban Toronto are long and interesting enough for a reader to stop and read through. Active on Twitter and Facebook (users are able to sign up with Facebook), Dirt is still a young but promising project that has a long way to go.
It's true that from a designer's point of view, Josiestern.com may not look like a gem, but it's the content that matters most. At least in this case. After reading a few articles written by Toronto realtor Josie Stern, you'll realize that she is not only an experienced realtor, but also a very able writer who is able to deliver an article in a very personal tone without drifting away from the point and value. She actively discusses the philosophy of being a good realtor and critically points out the issues that may arise when dealing with an agent. Her other subjects are charity and recreation. The fact that in recent months, new blog posts appear only once a month could be taken as a downside.
#15 The Partnership
One of the more exquisite websites in our list, The Partnership provides regular articles on Toronto's high-end architects and a guide to fine dining in Toronto (with a map). The blog contains a lot more themes than the usual real estate market news and advice for buyers and sellers — top events in Toronto encourage people to enjoy various festivals, visual art exhibitions, theatre performances, concerts, latest films, gourmet expos, and more. Reports from these events or lists of top farmers markets are also present, and we shouldn't forget the currently popular "photo of the week" section. The Partnership has its own Youtube channel, although only to showcase the latest homes for sale. An advice section or opinions from real estate experts would be more than welcome. Adam Parsons and Penny Brown of The Partnership are also active Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
One of the unique Canadian real estate websites, Zoocasa's tagline states "home search with smarts," as it aims to be the "Zillow for Canada." Zillow is a popular US real estate site with an advanced local search. The wealth of information provided by Zoocasa is overwhelming both in a good and bad way. In a good way, it gives you an impressive look into the details of the area you'll be living in, from demographic information of average household incomes to education levels, common occupations, and more. However, the other side of the coin is that the amount of data is excessive and makes it hard to find the basic details like property description and size of the rooms. The blog itself isn't as unique as other parts of the website, but still regularly presents information on buying, selling, and maintaining a property, mortgages, and other business-related subjects. Zoocasa deserves a little complaint regarding the visibility of the blog. The blog button is small and set on the very bottom of the main page, which makes it hard to spot.
#17 New in Homes
Even though the design of the New in Homes blog is modern, the website seems to be a bit slow and gritty at its core. Fortunately, the content is something completely different that makes up for this lack. With several new articles almost every day, New in Homes provides a wide spectrum of topics for a demanding reader. Reports on new developments in Toronto, a section about homebuilders, advice for first-time buyers and on finance and insurance, as well as news from the real estate world are all interlaced with leisure articles on events in Toronto. Seasonal tips for leisure activities or an interesting place, thing, or event are included in the category shrewdly named "cool stuff." New in Homes also provides its own interactive events calendar and several mobile apps, such as a mortgage calculator and interactive map of Toronto with the newest residential developments. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
Toronto Realty Blog tries its best to be in line with modern Internet news sites and magazines with its choice of design, number of topics, and frequency of updates. It's a hard job to do, even only in the field of Toronto real estate. David Fleming solves this issue of falling behind by producing a tremendous amount of videos and articles written in a very genuine (sometimes informal) tone, sharing personal experiences, and being unafraid to use humour. Not to mention that he actively participates in the comment section on his blog. That's quite refreshing and sadly still uncommon in real estate. David Fleming is active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
A minimalistic yet pleasant to look at red-and-white design is the first thing you'd notice when you arrive at the website of Vancouver realtor Sebastian Albrecht. By taking a closer look at the contents of his website, you'd see a very detailed guide on one of the prides of Vancouver — the Grouse Grind hiking trail. Judging by it and other sports-oriented articles, Albrecht must be a very avid athlete, which brings a very fresh and sincere tone to his blog. Sadly, most of the recent and not-so-regular posts are business-oriented, which is not a bad thing in its own right, but this part of the content is not as unique and lively as the description of sports and leisure activities in and around Vancouver. Formerly active on more social networks like Facebook and Google+, Sebastian Albrecht is currently active only on Twitter.
Eximus is a relatively young blog with only half a year of history, but that doesn't mean it wasn't able to create some interesting content. Eximus's content focuses on readers east of Vancouver — Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, White Rock et cetera. Topics include local market reports, local events invitations, and tips for recreation. The website is one of the simplest on the list, without any specific features or revolutionary design, and it's also very easy to navigate. Eximus is active on Facebook and Twitter.