After launching in Alberta and expanding to B.C., online real estate marketplace Bōde is launching in Toronto and will expand to other parts of Ontario based on market demand, says company founder and CEO Robert Price.
“Toronto’s been the biggest source of demand so far, so we’re starting there,” Price says. “But as builders and consumers in Ottawa and in other cities and regions across Ontario ask for our services, it’s easy for us to add additional markets.”
Bōde, which says its platform-based service is an industry-first in Canada, launched in 2019 in Calgary, and expanded to the rest of Alberta in 2020 and B.C. in 2021. It now lists 350 properties of builders and consumers in the two provinces, and its revenues are about equally split between builders and consumers.
Bōde’s name is based on the term “my humble abode.”
Flat monthly fee for MLS access
Last July, Bōde launched a new subscription service that enables builders to list an unlimited number of homes on MLS for a flat monthly fee.
Builders that sell over 100 homes a year pay $5,000 per month per market for the subscription service. It joins a per-listing service appropriate for small- to mid-size builders.
“By offering builders a subscription, it gives them total flexibility to list homes at any stage, whether it’s spec or pre-build or partially completed, to maximize buyers and interest on their properties,” Price says.
More than 30 builders listed $100 million in property with the company in 2022, making it the top listing provider for Alberta builders.
Bōde handles builders’ photos and measurements and provides signage and advanced data per property, including the number of views, showings and comparisons against their own properties and the rest of the market so that adjustments can be made.
Smaller fees for consumers
On the consumer side, customers list their properties for free on the site, and Bōde takes care of photos and measurements, data and marketing. It charges a one per cent fee if a sale is made.
Aside from its own site, Bōde listings are posted to Realtor.ca, Zillow, Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji “and thousands of other partnership listing sites,” he says.
“Our goal is to attract buyers without agents as well as buyers with agents so that a builder gets the most demand on their property, which gives them the highest value.”
“Technically, we are a brokerage” licensed in Alberta, BC and now Ontario, and designated as a “mere posting provider.”
“Technically, we are a brokerage”
Unlike the traditional model, Bōde doesn’t provide advice or represent clients, but its online platform “creates a much more modern, direct and simpler experience.”
Price says the platform provides clients with the mechanisms to market properties and connect buyers directly with the sales team on the builder side or directly with sellers on the consumer side.
Responding to criticism that Bōde reduces broker commissions, the CEO says, “we are creating choice and competition for builders and consumers. Ultimately, it’s about creating a different experience and choice. Competition is good for the consumer.”
“We’re not fundamentally against agents,” Price adds, noting Bōde has the accounts of 1,000 agents who are often involved in the buyer side of the transaction.
While Bōde makes it possible for both parties to transact without an agent, “when an agent is involved, great,” he says.
Competition and consumer choice
Omer Quenneville, a broker with Real Estate Homeward in Toronto, says, “We’re just going to have to see how it plays out. They have to follow the same rules as everybody else at the different associations that they’re going to join.”
Quenneville notes similarities between Bōde and many discount brokerages that offer flat fees.
“We support competition and consumer choice in the marketplace,” says Craig Munn, vice-president, communication and events at the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
Munn notes prospective home buyers and sellers now have a range of business models to choose from, and businesses that succeed “will need to continually demonstrate value to the home buying and selling public that they seek to serve.”
Plans for expansion
Bōde is now looking at potential launches in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. There are also plans to expand to the U.S. by 2024, with Colorado, Texas, and California eyed as potential entry points based on their tech savviness, education levels and market sizes.
“While there will be more players in the market, there’s nobody that’s doing what we’re doing,” Price says, adding, “commissions are even higher than Canada (and) the home builder space is significant.”
In the U.S., HomesUSA.com, owned by top-ranked real estate agent Ben Caballero, works with more than 60 builders in Texas through a proprietary SaaS listings management and marketing platform. However, Price says he is not familiar with the company.
Danny Kucharsky is a contributing writer for REM.