An innovative online residential real-estate service launched this week provides B.C. consumers with enough material to make informed decisions about property purchases, with or without a realtor.
The new Web site, www.landcor.com, offers up-to-date and historic data on more than 1.6 million homes and properties around the province, using information gathered from BC Assessment and other private sources.
The service enables users to quickly search a property and receive a profile report that includes the current assessed value, the four most recent transactions, lot size, finished area, year built or renovated, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a graph tracking sales trends in the neighbourhood for the past two years.
Some of these details are available through the Multiple Listing Service, which grants limited access to the public. While MLS mainly offers information on real estate actively listed for sale, Landcor's data base covers virtually all residential, commercial and industrial properties in B.C., whether or not they are on the market.
"Our service provides a fast, highly accurate way of valuing and analyzing properties throughout British Columbia, without [consumers] spending a lot of time and money," said Rudy Nielsen, a New Westminster-based entrepreneur who established the Web site after three years of planning and development.
Landcor can also provide instant property appraisals, using recent sales of similar properties in the same neighbourhood as comparables.
"While this is a complete electronic appraisal, it is not intended to replace a traditional appraiser's on-site inspection, but it does give consumers and professionals a competitive edge," said Nielsen, whose Niho Land and Cattle Company owns several hundred recreational properties around British Columbia.
Another Landcor product is a sales analyzer, which examines sales activity including number of sales, total dollar volume and average transaction price for user-defined types of properties in selected locations and over chosen time frames. It then prints graphs of those sales.
To protect people's privacy, there is no disclosure of property owners' names or postal codes.
The Landcor Web site won independent endorsement from Stan Hamilton, professor of urban land economics at the University of B.C.
"No other system in North America offers such high-quality valuations for residential properties in such a wide market area," said Hamilton, senior associate dean in UBC's faculty of commerce and business administration.
"It puts the consumer into more control over what data he or she receives. I've been advocating this type of data base for a long time.
"Landcor has taken it further than anyone else at present.
"It's totally analytical. There's no fudging the numbers."