New goes fully live across Canada

A massive project that had been several years in the making was fully realized in 2014 when the new website emerged from beta and went live in September for all consumers and REALTORS® from coast to coast to coast. Long the most popular real estate website in Canada, saw record-high levels of traffic this past year with more than 27-million visits in May alone, a new monthly record.

In fact, the very popularity of was something that CREA had to carefully manage as it transitioned from the old site, to a beta version of the new site that was gradually rolled out across the country through 2013 and 2014, and finally to the complete switch to the new site. "We ran the sites in parallel for an awfully long time so that we could get the kinks out of the new website and see what issues consumers were having," said Marc Lafrance, director of product management and member services at CREA. "Beta was a real learning experience, and one of the key takeaways for us was to be very careful with a site that's so popular."

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"Beta was a real learning experience, and one of the key takeaways for us was to be very careful with a site that's so popular."

With much of the heavy lifting on the site completed the year before, 2014 focused on fine-tuning the user experience, and adding new features such as a keyword search, that consumers were asking for.

The drive to constantly improve won't stop with some of this coming year's most significant implementations focused on improving search results for users. One innovation will be the use of landing pages that in time will rise to the top of searches for topics such as "YOURCITY condos" and "YOURCITY homes," with links from the landing pages taking visitors directly to listings. Another innovation will see a search for a particular REALTOR® return a more detailed page that includes listing information in addition to standard business-card information. Also new in early 2015 will be a consumer login that will assist those looking for a home while also generating better insights on how consumers use the platform.

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Mobile continues to grow; cross-platform integration expands

For the first time in the history of the Internet, this past year saw mobile devices used more extensively than desktop computers for web browsing, and the same phenomenon is rapidly making the mobile version of almost as well-used as the desktop version. More than 150,000 consumers download the mobile app every month, and they use it to generate more than 10-million sessions per month.

CREA's Lafrance expects mobile to overtake the desktop in 2015, and he and his team are working hard to make sure that consumers enjoy more utility from the app while REALTORS® get better data on how consumers are using it. On the consumer side, that means demographics and 'walk score' were added to the mobile app in October. Meanwhile, unified analytics across all platforms will help all elements of organised real estate – Boards, Associations, brokers and individual REALTORS® – better understand what consumers are searching for; insight that will help them understand what features of a home are hot in specific neighbourhoods.

WEBForms® gains document and transaction management

Two powerful new features, document management and transaction management, were added this year to WEBForms®, the electronic service that uses verified listing details drawn from Board and Association MLS® Systems to create polished and professional paperwork that REALTORS® can present to clients. And rather than build the new applications internally, CREA reached out to third-party vendors to obtain, as Lafrance said, "very exclusive offerings for our members. We used the bargaining power of our 110,000 members and we negotiated with DocuSign, Instanet and Faltour to provide these add-ons at a very reasonable fee." Using one of these third-party applications, REALTORS® can give everyone involved in a real estate transaction complete start-to-finish access to all the documents, and can manage the entire transaction, including electronic signatures, without having to generate a single sheet or paper.

Data Distribution Facility expands to more than 20 sites, including

REALTORS® who want to share their listings across a myriad of other websites are increasingly turning to CREA's Data Distribution Facility (DDF®) that allows them to easily and efficiently manage the process with a single data feed. With more than 150 technology providers certified by CREA to offer this service. More than 20 destinations are now accessible via DDF®, including, as of late 2014,, the official website of the International Consortium of Real Estate Associations. Many REALTORS® are already listing their properties on; now they can include that destination in their DDF® upload and eliminate the requirement to track and update multiple listings with new information such as a changed price.

5,000 REALTORS® in Canada embrace .REALTOR

.REALTOR, the new website URL domain suffix created exclusively for the real estate industry in North America, has been embraced by REALTORS® in Canada with more than 5,000 claiming their new domain name since .REALTOR became available in October. CREA has an exclusive marketing partnership with the National Association of REALTORS® to make .REALTOR available in this country, and the first 10,000 REALTORS® who do so will have the $49/year fee waived for the first year.