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.
“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.