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Real Estate Talk:
Broker vs discount firms

How dealing with real estate professionals compares to dealing with discount firms

By Joseph Marovitch

Discount firms like Duproprio and Proprio Direct are good to sell with if everything in the sale of a residential property goes perfectly. What is not mentioned is that, like certified real estate brokers, the public are subject to and must also adhere to the rules and regulations of the Real Estate Brokerage Act, a part of the Civil Code of Quebec.

I recently spoke with a client whom I purchased a home for. The client has a house to sell and they purchased before selling, which I do not recommend as it is not easy for most to carry the cost of two properties. I requested a meeting to discuss the sale of the first house to which the reply was: “We have decided to use Duproprio (real estate company that allows the seller access to Centris and sell on their own)”.

Many sellers have the belief, made public by organizations like Duproprio, that the seller will save money if they sell on their own, using Centris access via the discount firm. Of course, discount firms state they provide legal, notarial, and real estate support when requested. Essentially the seller is looking out for themselves without any real estate professional protection. If the selling process is perfect and there are no problems, such as incorrect measurements, illegal views, servitudes in favour of neighbours, problems with inspection, spousal considerations, registered rights by disgruntled contractors, plumbers or electricians, out of date certificates of location, etc., then selling on ones own may work.

Many sellers have the belief, made public by organizations like Duproprio, that the seller will save money if they sell on their own, using Centris access via the discount firm.

For a real estate broker, the easy part of the process is marketing: price right, place ads, send emails, send mail, newsletters, flyers, open houses, use of Centris and access to a team of thousands of brokers with buyers, along with the broker’s knowledge of the real estate brokerage act (which applies to everyone), negotiating skill and practiced charm. As a broker, the only thing a broker thinks and performs seven days a week is real estate.

The more difficult part of the job is the process between the accepted offer and the signing. As a discount firm client, the seller must hope there are no glitches, otherwise the deal falls apart and the seller starts over. The wonderful quality of a professional broker is that they are knowledgeable, experienced and trained to handle and overcome each obstacle that can hinder the sale with as little expense as possible on the part of the seller.

Example: The bank requests a new certificate of location because the old one is seven years or older. If there have been changes to the certificate since it was created then the seller must purchase a new certificate. If there have been no changes, regardless of how old the certificate is, then the cost falls onto the buyer. A broker will tell a seller this information. With Duproprio, if the seller does not ask, the seller will not know and $600 to $1200 goes down the drain.

Professional real estate brokers can properly evaluate the seller’s property and provide options to get the best price possible based on comparables and the seller’s current situation. With Duproprio, the seller is on their own. The seller heard the neighbour sold for an amazing amount of money and now the seller wants to get the same money except the neighbour’s house has a new kitchen and two extra bedrooms. The neighbour’s house is not a comparable. The seller then asks too much for the house and all the good buyers pass by without offers. In this situation, the seller ends up selling lower because they were not properly priced in the first place. Was money saved by doing it on their own? No.

‘The more difficult part of the job is the process between the accepted offer and the signing. As a discount firm client, the seller must hope there are no glitches, otherwise the deal falls apart and the seller starts over.’

The following are a list of advantages when using a professional broker:

  1. Buy and sell at a fair price because brokers have access to the latest market stats to properly price property;
    .
  2. Expert knowledge of legal documents and procedures;
    .
  3. Provide access to competent inspectors, notaries, mortgage brokers, contractors, interior designers, etc.;
    .
  4. Maximize visibility. The more qualified buyers are exposed to your property, the quicker the property will sell at the best price;
    .
  5. Access to the largest selection of property available for sale via Centris;
    .
  6. Protection of the OACIQ. The OACIQ is the governing body overseeing the work of realtors. The OACIQ insures brokers are ethical and fair in their dealings, behaviour and image. The mandate of the OACIQ is to protect the public and ensure all facts are above board, honest, accurate and verified;
    .
  7. The broker works for their client. The broker represents the client and accompanies the client in every step of the transaction;
    .
  8. The broker ensures all facts, measurements and statements are verified and correct. An incorrect fact, statement or measurement can cause a sale to fail;
    .
  9. Brokers verify and qualify buyers to insure no valuable time is wasted. A buyer who provides an offer but does not have the funds can waste weeks of work and cause other potential buyers to pass by. Therefore, the broker will request a pre-approval document or proof of cash document at the beginning of the process;
    .
  10. Brokers save buyers time, effort, energy and money. They represent and protect their client.

Notaries do not perform brain surgery and brain surgeons do not notarize. A school teacher is not a race car driver and a race car driver is not a school teacher. A real estate broker is a specialist in real estate. The broker lets the chef cook and the teacher teach.

‘The broker works for their client. The broker represents the client and accompanies the client in every step of the transaction.’

In the discount firm’s website, it is claimed that real estate brokers do not do the following:

  1. Protect against hidden defects – Remedy for hidden defects is stated in the real estate brokerage act and effective unless the property is sold without warranty;
    .
  2. Protect from a withdrawal of the buyer – Remax and many other agencies offer buyer protection from withdrawal free of charge;
    .
  3. Do not replace professional home inspectors – Of course not, brokers offer competent and qualified home inspectors to perform inspections;
    .
  4. Does not preclude the need to close at the notary – All good brokers attend the signing to ensure all goes smoothly.

Comparison between real estate broker and discount firms

Discount claims

Claim: No broker, no commission
Truth: Less exposure and pays 2% to the selling broker

Claim: #1 leading real estate website in Quebec
Truth: Centris is larger and both national and international

Claim: Selling time 16 weeks
Truth: Depends on the market, condition of house and price

Claim: Average time invested 30 hours
Truth: Who’s time? Depends on market, price and condition

Claim: Support of notaries, appraisers, coaches and photographers
Truth: Real estate brokers provide the same resources that are independent of brokers and therefore not biased.

I hope this information helps potential buyers and sellers.

Should you have questions or comments, please refer to the comments section at the bottom of the page. As well, to view past articles, click here.

Next article: Shopping with a broker vs. shopping without a broker


State of the market

The market continues to move forward as pent up demand is released. Buyers who were not able to purchase property during the pandemic are now searching and purchasing with purpose. The buyers are not people taking a Sunday stroll for fun but are serious hunters hungrily searching for whatever is available.

The problem is there is not that much available and the future seems uncertain. We all hope the pandemic recedes and children can go back to school without fear and adults can return to their offices but we do not know yet if it is safe. Government experts state we must be ready for a 2nd wave of COVID-19.

‘The buyers are not people taking a Sunday stroll for fun but are serious hunters hungrily searching for whatever is available.’

With a 2nd wave in mind, many buyers will search fast and buy quickly. Many homeowners who have children and would have sold are not ready to place their property on the market and have stranger after stranger enter. The situation, for the moment, is the market is fierce and belongs to the sellers.

Stay safe and have a great weekend!


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Other articles by Joseph Marovitch


Joseph Marovitch - WestmountMag.ca

Joseph Marovitch has worked in the service industry for over 30 years. His first career was working with families from Westmount and surrounding areas, hosting children between the ages of 6 to 16 as the owner and director of Camp Maromac, a sports and arts sleep away summer camp established in 1968. Using the same strengths caring for the families, such as reliability, integrity, honesty and a deep sense of protecting the interests of those he is responsible for, Joseph applies this to his present real estate broker career. Should you have questions please feel free to contact Joseph Marovitch at 514 825-8771, or josephmarovitch@gmail.com


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  1. Gilles Larin

    This is a no-brainer! The real estate broker is a highly trained and essential component of buying or selling a property! Just like the pre-purchase (or pre-selling) inspection, this is not a “do it yourself” application! Discount firms are “false economy”.


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