Realtors have nothing to fear from TheRedPin.com, says Rokham Fard, one of the company’s co-founders. In fact, if you’re a sales rep in the Greater Toronto Area who enjoys providing great customer service but don’t like spending a lot of time prospecting and advertising, TheRedPin.com wants to talk to you.
A member of CREA, it was the first company to launch a virtual office website after the Toronto Real Estate Board’s controversial VOW policy was approved. Fard says the technology-based brokerage’s website offers up to 120 more data points on listings than are on realtor.ca. Combined with its extensive listings of new home and condominium offerings, TheRedPin says it has a database nearly 1.6 times the size of the MLS system in Toronto, making it the largest residential database in the GTA. It’s also updated several times a day, so new listings appear on the site much faster than on realtor.ca.
For all clients, the company offers 25 per cent of its commission as cash back, but Fard says it is not a discount brokerage. It is a full-service firm, offering everything a homebuyer needs to guide them through the negotiation and purchase of a home.
“We’re a customer experience company – I wouldn’t even call it a brokerage,” says TheRedPin.com’s broker of record Tarik Gidamy. “We’re trying to be really different from other brokerages.”
The customer’s experience begins on the website, where 94 per cent of homebuyers begin their real estate search, says the company. “We believe in the freedom of information and in providing you with tools and data, so you can do your own searches and decide when is the right time to reach out to our experts for their advice and support,” says TheRedPin.com. Customers sign up for access to listings “with far more data than they could find anywhere else,” including school rankings and ratings, days on the market and more than 100,000 local businesses linked up to each listing.
If clients are interested in buying a new home or condo, there’s access to “VIP listings and exclusive preconstruction condo projects in the GTA with all of their floor plans before anybody else,” the company says.
In being first to offer a VOW, “we wanted to make a statement that we are a technology company that is re-engineering the industry. We want to be first in all aspects, and keep coming out with stuff before everyone else does,” says Gidamy. “There will be other online players, but it’s all about execution.”
TREB’s VOW policies are the subject of a complaint by the federal Competition Bureau, scheduled to be heard this fall. The bureau says the policy discriminates against brokers with web-based business models by not allowing certain information to be uploaded to the Internet. But not everyone in the industry is up-to-date with how the current VOW policies work, says Gidamy.
Gidamy says some brokers have asked him to remove their listings from the site. “They are doing their clients a disservice by taking a listing and telling the client they will give their property the most exposure anywhere, and then asking us to take them down.” But he says many other top Realtors know that “we will never take away what they have” and they are “all for what we are doing.”
The firm is actively recruiting new agents. Sales reps are not paid commissions – they receive a salary and get a bonus if the customer reports 100-per-cent satisfaction with the way the deal goes down.
“I’m looking for people who actually believe in the art of selling and like selling homes and want to give good customer service,” says Gidamy. “Every agent has their own back-end person here to provide research and analysis. They have complete tech support and amazing tools in order to offer customer service.”
While the majority of TheRedPin.com’s work is still on the new-home and condo side, Gidamy is confident the resale side will grow as more people become aware of the benefits the company offers.
While currently focussed on the GTA, Gidamy says the company plans to expand to other Canadian cities.