In this age of the all-powerful internet, home buyers are in a position to learn a great deal about a home before walking through the door with their favourite REALTOR®. In Yellowknife, house hunters are fortunate to have an extra tool that is still quite rare in Canada - City Explorer (probably referred to elsewhere as a GIS Web Mapping Application, but ours happens to be named City Explorer).
City Explorer, which you can access at the bottom of the main page of City Hall's website, is an online tool that allows residents to find all kinds of information about houses and neighbourhoods. REALTORS® use it to verify things like lot sizes, lot orientations (important in a northern city where sunny yards sell at a large premium), landscaping and to get a rough idea of home footprints.
But as awesome as City Explorer is, it isn't the most user-friendly application in the world. So here are a few tips.
1. When searching for a house, don't waste your time crawling around the map with the hand tool. Use the "Locate by" drop down menu at the top of the page and search by civic address.
2. Once you've searched for and found the home of interest, select the Layers tab to bring back the list of information options on the right-hand side.
3. You can zoom in to your lot by using either the + and - scale on the left hand side, or the magnifying glass tool
4. To find out the lot size and tax assessment information, select the information tool and click on the lot of interest. Lot area is listed in square meters, so multiply it by 10.76 to convert it to square footage.
5. To bring up the aerial photos, select "NEW! 2010 Colour Ortho Photos" at the bottom of the Layers menu. I bet you've been looking for that one for a while. No, we have no idea what an ortho photo is. Must be a GIS insider thing. For the the rest of us it's the "Oh, it's like Google Maps!" tool.
There is a ton more you can do with this City Explorer. Have fun with the various layers like Trails and Recycling Depots. Won't find that kind of stuff on Google Maps, will you?
And that brings me to the next online tool that you must take advantage of - Google Maps. In the middle of winter, folks are always asking me, "what does the yard look like in the summer?" Well, it's always summer on Google Maps, so go have a look. The fastest way to find your property is to Google search the address, i.e. "5103 47th Street Yellowknife" and then click on the map that comes up first on the search results. Once it loads, click on the little photo on the left and, after a few seconds, it will convert the overhead map on the right to a street level view of the address - or somewhere close to the address. You may have to spin around to find it. You can crawl up and down the street and spin around by clicking and dragging with your mouse.
Finally, there are two websites that no effective house hunter can go without: The Century 21 Greenway Realty Yellowknife website, www.century21yk.ca, and REALTOR.CA. On REALTOR.CA all you have to do is search Yellowknife and every MLS listing in town will pop up. Don't forget, our Century 21 REALTORS can show you any and all of these listings, even if they are listed with other companies! If you'd like to search for new listings, use the "listed since" search filter.
That's about it for the high-tech house hunting tools. Now for one low-tech tool. Until robots take over the world, you'll still need the help of a Buyer's Agent to help you find the right home at the right price. So pick up the phone and call us today!
And don't forget to follow us on Facebook for all kinds of tips and information: https://www.facebook.com/Century21GreenwayRealtyYellowknife