By Mario Toneguzzi

Justo, a new technology-based real estate brokerage firm that recently launched in the Greater Toronto Area, says the real estate industry is at a turning point and its model “puts cash back in home buyers’ pockets and gives sellers a better fee and a target price guarantee.”

Daphne De Groot, the company’s CEO, says the brokerage offers premium services, low rates that are fair and transparent and an advanced MLS search engine for both buyers and sellers.



“We use the power of information, technology and efficiency to lower our costs and pass on the savings to our clients.” She says Justo is derived from the Latin word Justus, meaning fair and transparent, which is the foundation upon which the company is built.

It is geared to people frustrated by elite brokerage commissions and high-pressure sales tactics, she says.

“We saw the way things were being done in the real estate field and we thought that there were better ways to do it. So, we dug down to do research,” says De Groot. “We realized that with the help of the real estate agents, who have a lot of knowledge and experience, together with the technology and the data that is available today compared to say 20 years ago, the combination of both can be the ultimate way of doing the process of buying and selling a house.”

Justo’s all-inclusive service model bundles some of the extra fees associated with buying and selling a home at no additional cost including home inspections, staging and lawyers’ fees, allowing customer to have a more efficient and streamlined experience.

This is how Justo explains what it does. In most real estate transactions, the buyer’s agent is paid by the seller and not the buyer. Typically, this commission is 2.5 per cent of the purchase price, plus HST. Justo offers sellers a listing commission of 1.5 per cent with a 30-day target price guarantee. It splits this commission with the buyer, 50/50, when a minimum purchase of $300,000 is made. If it does not sell the property at the target price in 30 days, the company will reduce its fee by another 0.5 per cent to just one per cent. (1)

The average GTA home is selling for approximately $850,000. Using the Justo model, the buyer will be represented by an agent with more than a decade of local experience and get home inspection and lawyers fees included and approximately $6,250 in cashback.

Also included in Justo’s package is photography, a 3D tour and staging at no extra cost.

“Justo’s concept makes a lot of sense. Buyers and sellers are looking for something different, something that is more rewarding for them,” says Vicki Schmidt, Justo broker of record. “Technology and accessibility to data is allowing people to be more involved in the real estate process, so sharing the commission with our clients makes sense.

“The fundamental idea behind everything we do is being very fair and transparent. With that, nothing’s a secret. Our model is posted right on our website. Clients don’t have to worry about negotiating with us or being stressed out because they have enough stress to worry about. They don’t need to be worried about trying to negotiate with their real estate agent. So, we really are an ally to them.”

De Groot says the company is focusing on the GTA because it’s a huge market with an average of 100,000 transactions a year.

“With the average price about $800,000 that’s approximately $80 billion of commissions going to agents. (2) Later on, we hope to get into additional markets,” she says. “Hopefully this model is going to grow beyond the GTA but we want to first establish and focus ourselves, as real estate is a very local market. So, we want to establish ourselves in the GTA and later hopefully go across Canada – and even across the world.”

She says Justo fills a void between a discount brokerage where it costs a consumer less, but has fewer services, to traditional brokerages where a lot of money is being spent and plenty of services are being offered.

“There’s no combination of both where you pay less and you get more. That’s a big point. The other thing is the whole process is more efficient and streamlined. It’s quicker and just more convenient for a person,” says De Groot.


Update: Following publication of this article, Dapne De Groot emailed the following clarifications:

  1. There is a bit of a mix between what we offer to our buyers and sellers. When Justo represents the buyer, the 2.5% given by the seller, we split in half with the buyer. Meaning the buyer receives cashback on the house that he buys with Justo.  When Justo represents the seller, we charge only 1.25% ,which is half of the typical listing fee.

  2. The $80B in commission should be $80B in transactions, and 5% ,the typical fee gathered by both agents, amounting to $4B.

16 COMMENTS

  1. It seems to me that when someone in the real estate business wants to create a new model they come up with the same old formula – discounting or trying to attract consumers by enticing them with savings. What is best for the consumers? Protecting their best interests seems more important than saving a few dollars. Now that BC has made dual agency almost impossible to operate under, there is a great opportunity for someone to make a fortune in the real estate industry. Exclusive Buyer Brokers offices will open across Canada in the future, and this will level the playing field. I’m not sure how many EXCLUSIVE BUYER BROKERS there are in Canada, but expect less than 5. So why are real estate entrepreneurs ignoring this fantastic opportunity? Rather than trying to modify same model that has been around for 100 years, why not think outside the box and do something that will work in the consumers best interest.

  2. This creates the potential for an “undisclosed”, annual, dollar volume rebate; in essence, a future “bird-dog fee”. The Brokerage, must not favour a certain lawyer / inspector; a conflict of interest. There should be no influence by the Brokerage in such a choice; only suggestions of three qualified lawyers / inspectors.

  3. Why do so many (all?) of their real estate listing pages seem to be hosted by “Property Expert” Megan Mane who is not licensed with RECO? She is on IMDB, though.

  4. Redpin was well funded and did cash back as well and free listings with purchase and didn’t last. I don’t see this being any different. Consumers see the value in good agents. You get what you pay for.

  5. On the JUSTO website they state “Justo charges a listing fee of just 1.25%, which is a half of a typical listing (2.5%) fee. (In addition to the co-operating broker commission, which is typically 2.5%)”. So are most Realtors in Toronto charging a “typical” real estate commission of 5%? By stating that the “typical” buyer’s agent fee is 2.5% is misleading to home buyers and home sellers. It is my understanding that all real estate commissions are negotiable by law. So why do Realtors quote “typical” fees to the sellers and buyers? Is it advantageous for the listing agents to keep the buyer agent’s fees as high as possible? Do buyer agents expect to be paid the “typical” fees? The listing agent should NOT determine what the buyer’s agent is paid and buyers should negotiate their fees with their buyer agent and not let the seller’s agent set their fees. This will bring more transparency and competition to the real estate industry as well as saving consumers thousands in real estate fees. Also it will stop some Realtors from saying their buyer agent services are FREE. There is a cost to all buyers.

  6. As joelives mentioned above, the math in this article doesn’t make sense. I agree there are approximately 100,000 transactions that take place in the Greater Toronto Area each year. However, there are about 55,000-60,000 registrants (agents) that practise in the GTA too. This means less than 2 transactions per agent. I agree there are many companies and individual agents that think there is a race to the bottom. Interestingly, I’ve only been in the business for 11 years and I’ve seen many many companies and agents fail. You need a good business model that aims for profitably in order to succeed.

  7. The two concerns people have are money and time. Your Real-Estate model addresses both of these issues.

    I am an agent that is focused downtown Toronto. I would love to work with a team like this. This is exactly what I am looking for in my long term commitment to a brokerage that I believe in.

  8. As with any new business model it will require some tweaking as time goes on. Real estate commissions has and will always be a sore point for the millions of people who don’t have a choice but to deal with the “way it has always been done”. Maybe the race to the bottom started a very long time ago with the 1000’s of unqualified agents out there that will say and do anything to sell quite possibly the biggest financial asset most people have for the BIG commission cheque hiding behind MLS. I have no horse in this race but good luck to Justo!!!!

  9. “a 3D tour and staging at no extra cost” then how come their last expired – not sold – listing on Harwood had one cell phone pic of the outside and nothing else? These models have come and go. There is so much more to selling real estate RIGHT, than giving money back.

  10. Might want to review your math…average price of $800,000 with 100,000 transactions is $80 Billion in real estate value…not commission- hopefully your business plan wasn’t based on those numbers. After close to 30 years in the industry..I ve seen so many people that are going to “disrupt” the industry with a race to the bottom on fees hard to get excited over a new one.

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