Purplebricks has been rebranded as FairSquare.

The brand, which has its roots as a for-sale-by-owner company, has evolved into a full-service brokerage that charges a fixed fee to clients, says Pascal Laflamme, president of FairSquare Group Realty. The company’s headquarters is in Stoney Creek, Ont. It also has offices in Winnipeg and Edmonton. Desjardins Group, a leading co-operative financial group in Canada, purchased real estate company Purplebricks in 2020.

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Pascal Laflamme
Pascal Laflamme

“At the moment, I would say that we still have a lot of work to do in order to be better in the markets we serve,” says Laflamme. That includes Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, Windsor and the Niagara Peninsula. “We will start operating in the region of Sudbury, Ont. very soon. For the time being, we’re not looking at a huge expansion plan at least for the next two, three years.”

FairSquare’s roots date back several years.

The company’s business model “evolved drastically, basically (due to) the customers’ needs,” says Laflamme. “We were listening to customers. It started back in 2009 when DuProprio in Quebec acquired other for-sale-by-owner businesses throughout the country.”

These companies were renamed ComFree outside of Quebec. “Then the model evolved from a very strict for-sale-by-owner business to a for-sale-by-owner with optional help from Realtors and then became a brokerage,” says Laflamme. “Now it’s a full-service brokerage with the difference that we are working as a team instead of working as individual, self-employed Realtors.

“We’re charging a fixed fee on our side. So our part of the selling commission is fixed no matter what the home value is and of course our sellers are offering buyer/agent commission that varies from market to market. So that’s where we’re putting more people on the customer side and we’re putting more money in their pocket because they’re saving on our fees.”

Laflamme says Desjardins realized that home ownership is stressful because it’s usually the biggest investment people undertake in their lives.

“Their vision is how can we help our clients, our customers, our members, to remove a part of that stress. That’s why they decided to invest into real estate but they also invested into renovation (with RenoAssistance, a comprehensive platform that helps homeowners and commercial operators complete renovations by giving them access to the best possible contractors),” says Laflamme.

“They are offering to their members and clients a more integrated approach to home ownership and we’re part of that since July 2020. So that’s why we needed to rebrand from Purplebricks. When we rebranded from ComFree to Purplebricks it wasn’t the choice of the business, it was the choice of the shareholders because they wanted to create that global brand. And I felt the marketing, the messaging also, wasn’t perfectly adapted to the Canadian reality.”

He says FairSquare is “a brand that we feel reflects who we are as a business and how we want to be perceived by the customers.”

FairSquare says it has helped more than 50,000 Canadians successfully sell their homes since becoming a real estate brokerage, based on properties sold in Ontario and Alberta since 2012 and in Manitoba since 2015. The company says it saved Canadian home sellers more than $59 million in commission in 2020.

Desjardins Group is the leading co-operative financial group in Canada and the sixth largest in the world with assets of $362 billion and 7.5 million members and clients.

7 COMMENTS

  1. This is exactly why I would want to become a realtor to break the status quo of horrible customer service and slimy sales.

  2. Consumers selling PRIVATELY do not want to deal with a Realtor. They want control over their sale. Many do not TRUST a Realtor. COMFREE started in Winnipeg. It was was a household name. They offered an alternative real estate service for the real estate consumers. If you wanted to sell privately you called COMFREE. Consumers understand one thing – List on the MLS and you pay a high commission.

    There are 150,000 plus Realtors in Canada. These days everyone wants to be in real estate. They watch TV showing real estate agents selling luxurious homes, driving fancy cars and wearing designer cloths. It looks easy but “easy in and easy out they say”.

    When someone tries to disrupt the existing real estate model, Realtors keep spreading the same old message “you get what you pay for”. And that is TRUE. Real estate consumers are being ripped off by paying excessively large fees for a mediocre MLS service from 150,000 plus Realtors in Canada. Seriously, how many Realtors does it take to sell a house. I say one good Realtor can do the job. Today, it seems that Realtors think it may take 10, since the TEAM concept is a new model. The actual BROKER seems to have lost control of steering their ship. Watch out the ship is heading for the rocks. The ship is overloaded with Realtors.

    TREB has nearly 50,000 Realtors. In November in Toronto there may have been approximately 9000 sales. That doesn’t make sense – 50,000 Realtors to sell 9000 properties. However, with the rent a desk Realtor program offered by many brokerages I expect many Realtors are going into debt. What is the solution? As a consumer I see a great waste of money by Realtors and brokers in chasing after a limited supply of listings and qualified buyers. Purple Bricks, Comfree and now FairSquare had good intentions when they designed their real estate models. They are the real estate disruptors. I can see FairSquare will not give up. They are at a turning point. They have the money that if spent wisely could design a better real estate model that benefits the buyer and seller consumers. The first step is to figure out how you can attract some of best Realtors in the business willing to work 100% in favour of consumers as clients and not as customers. Exclusive Buyer Agency is a model I would study since BUYERS need to be better represented by Realtors. Desjardins Financial understand the concept WORKING FOR THE CLIENT. The next real estate model should have the consumers best interests at the top of the list.

  3. Last year I found them actually very easy and professional to deal with when booking their properties to show but boy when it came to offers while facilitating their sellers, they gave up without trying and left money on the table.

  4. “Now it’s a full-service brokerage with the difference that we are working as a team instead of working as individual, self-employed Realtors.”

    I did a deal with this company. I was shuffled through three different Realtors, all of whom had no idea what was going on with the deal. They negotiated a very low selling price ( $30K less than the identical home that sold a month before in a hot market ). And no one knew where the keys were on closing so the buyers could not get into the home.

    You get what you pay for

  5. My, my, a $362 billion leading corporation is getting into real estate to save people from some stress. This is groundbreaking and heartwarming news. Did someone say, “Nobel Peace Prize”? I say get this conglomerate an audience with the Pope and the Dalai Lama!

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