In January, the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board officially launched SarniaLambtonOpenHouses.ca, a smart, consumer-facing real estate open houses search engine that caters to potential home buyers who are looking for a home in the Sarnia-Lambton area.
Board President Donna Mathewson says that the website provides accurate and timely housing information, offering local buyers, sellers and brokers an unrivalled ability to search for, set up, and monitor local open houses.
Mathewson said, "More and more buyers are looking online for their information for real estate," adding that 87% of prospective home buyers last year looked for homes online to buy.
"We just thought it made sense to have an open house tool that would be online as well," she said.
The new website is said to offer simple yet powerful open house searching capabilities for those who are looking to buy a new home, but want to learn as much as possible about their potential investment before making a decision.
Many brokers and sellers have found the open house sales method to be an especially powerful marketing tool that consistently marks the difference between a sale and a "maybe", and industry analysts say that most homebuyers visit at least one open house during their home search before buying.
When asked how content is managed in real time, Mathewson said that local real estate agents can login to the site as required, add open houses, monitor and administrate their content, and can do all of this in a timely fashion.
"The beauty of this site versus the print media is that if a home sells on a Friday night and the open house is scheduled for Sunday, the agent can go into the open house content page in real time and enter a note that the open house was cancelled due to the fact that the house was sold," said Mathewson.
She also pointed out that with print media the ad copy has to be into the publication by Thursday at noon, often making changes impossible, but with this website that issue doesn't exist.
When asked how she feels about the site's progress so far, Mathewson said that she's very pleased for the most part but that some elements are still being tweaked.
"We're still making changes, probably have made half a dozen so far, might make that many more in the future," she said.
Last year Mathewson, in her role as Board President, spearheaded what started out as a task force and quickly grew into a committee. That group, charged with improving the home selling and buying process in Sarnia-Lambton. ended up working with the website idea as well as other initiatives.