One Year in and Israeli Entrepreneurs are Changing the Way Toronto does Real Estate
When Daphne de Groot and her childhood friend Moti Wisenberg moved to Canada from Israel – the “startup nation” – they brought with them the Israeli spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation.
As the pair began seeking out deals in the residential real estate space, they quickly learned first-hand that the decades-old model for buying and selling homes in the GTA was in desperate need of a shake-up.
“We were trying to purchase a home, and the entire process was extremely frustrating and expensive. We felt like we were in the dark,” said de Groot. “Buying or selling a home is the largest financial transaction of most people’s lives, and we realized we could make it easier, more transparent, and more affordable for everyone,”
Observing the market with fresh eyes and good old “chutzpah,” the pair launched Justo, a smarter residential real estate brokerage, in 2019 with a plan to make the process more efficient, cost effective and transparent.
And they were clearly onto something. Sensing a paradigm shift was imminent, members of Toronto’s Jewish community embraced the pair, with prominent members stepping up to help get Justo off the ground. Initial seed investors included Mitch Goldhar of Smartcentres, Robert Reichmann, and Anthony Heller of Plazacorp.
“We were amazed by the support we received from the Jewish community here, who stepped up to help us not only with our business, but also with making us feel welcome in Canada,” said Wisenberg. “A lot of people invited us to shabbat dinners and other social events. Even though we were new immigrants, right away we felt like we had ‘mishpucha’ here.”
So far, it’s proven to be a wise investment, as home buyers and sellers across the GTA have embraced the new model. In less than a year, Justo has saved home buyers and sellers more than $1 million in commission fees.
“Technology has made buying and selling homes exponentially easier. At the same time, prices have gone through the roof in the last few years, yet the standard commission model hasn’t changed at all” said de Groot. “The result is that agents are being paid much more today for the same amount of work they did just a few years ago. We don’t believe this is fair to Torontonians.”
De Groot is referring to the typical five percent commission commanded by realtors (split between the buying and selling agent) and paid by the sellers. On a million dollar home, that amounts to a $50 thousand expense to the seller, on top of land transfer fees, lawyer fees, and other closing costs.
Buyers using a Justo agent benefit equally. While typically the buyer’s agent receives a commission of two and a half percent of the price of the home, with Justo, that commission gets split 50/50 between the brokerage and the home-buyer. So the buyer of that million dollar home will receive $12,500 in cashback when the deal closes. Justo’s interactive website shows all their listings, including the approximate cashback potential buyers would receive. Justo also includes home inspections and legal services as part of their service.
While cash is king, you can’t put a cost on service, which is why Justo agents choose to work under this innovative new model. Justo’s agents are all licensed, experienced professionals who are tired of the old business structure. Being a part of the Justo team let’s them focus on their clients, rather than on all of the time and effort inherent in client acquisition, ensuring their clients get the best possible service.
Now a year in, the results speak for themselves. Diversity breeds disruption, and thanks to their entrepreneurial passion and experience living in Israel, Justo’s founders are disrupting Toronto’s real estate market for the better.