Research Prospective Neighbourhoods with HomeZilla

HomezillaWhen first moving to Vancouver, my residence selection process was something akin to 1) look at listing on Craigslist, 2) plot address on Google Maps, 3) attempt to judge area based on limited knowledge of city, proximity to Downtown, and opinions of friends. HomeZilla, a startup out of Toronto, aims to refine this process. We first mentioned HomeZilla when they presented at CIX last spring, and they have officially launched today.

We are proud to announce the official launch for HomeZilla. HomeZilla is a a one-stop shop for Canadian home buyers to find neighbourhood information. Our goal is to fundamentally change the home buying experience in Canada.

We help Canadians answer common home buying questions such as:

  • Where is the closest school, subway, bakery, dog park, etc.?
  • What is the average price for homes in this area?
  • How much money do people in this neighbourhood make?

We have collected over 750,000 pieces of information on Canadian neighbourhoods (covering demographics, public transit, parks, and many other areas) and this list grows daily. In the future, we will provide tools to let you choose the information we collect.

Ambitious, so how well does it work? I tried a few addresses, where I live or have in the past. The data it returns is generally solid but has some holes. It seemed to miss schools that are right in my neighbourhood, and listed nearby Starbucks and Tim Hortons but missed many independent coffee shops in the area. HomeZilla identified a local “Brew On Premise” facility as a pub; close, but not quite. It did get the liquor stores right, though. The data is up to date, at least, returning a grocery store that opening recently. In my humble opinion, they might want to put a “beta” label on the site until they refine the data, and also, give an option to view more than the five closest locations. For the meantime, I’ll be a helpful user and submit feedback (feedback link well placed right above the map).

However, I am impressed by the site and think it can be a valuable tool for folks looking for a home or apartment. They’ve identified a niche use case and well designed a site around that need. The incorporation of Statistics Canada data is neat and the first I’ve seen in a maps mashup. Combining these multiple sources of data in one map is what I wish I had when moving to a city I was unfamiliar with. Nice start, HomeZilla.