Century 21's Canadian website, century21.ca, is now available in Chinese as well as English and French.
The company says it decided to cover Chinese because, according to Canada's 2006 census, Chinese dialects make up the third most common mother tongue group in Canada. Metropolitan areas including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa have the largest Chinese-speaking populations.
“From a sales, community relations and recruitment perspective, it makes absolute sense for us to invest in a Chinese language platform," says Century 21 Canada president Don Lawby.
Lawby also sees the move into Chinese attracting more attention from overseas buyers. "Right now, our focus is on serving Chinese clients in Canada. However, a by-product is that Canadian listings will be more visible to buyers from around the world," Lawby says.
The Chinese version of century21.ca was built by wheretolive.com, a web technology and consulting company specialising in real estate and search engine optimisation.
"There were many challenges to overcome in the project, including switching the entire website system to Unicode, which now allows century21.ca to support all world languages," said Alex Blyakhman, president and chief product officer of wheretolive.com.
According to wheretolive.com, Chinese visitors to century21.ca have tripled since the roll-out of the Chinese version compared to the same time a year ago.