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British no-commission online realtor Purplebricks PLC is expanding into Canada’s real estate market with the $51-million purchase of similar commission-free online realtor Dupropio/ComFree Network (DPCF).

Instead of a collecting a commission on the final sale price of a house, Purplebricks and DPCF charge an upfront flat fee to sellers. DPCF users in English Canada sellers can pay as little as $599 up front, in Quebec packages range from $699 to $1,099.

DPCF says it had 39,000 listings across Canada in 2017 and revenues of $45.6-million, and Purplebricks’ announcement of the purchase says it has grabbed 20 per cent of the Quebec real estate market, although only 2 per cent in Ontario and 2.3 per cent in the west.

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Yellow Pages bought DPCF in 2015, for $50-million when the company reported earning $40-million in revenue for 2014. Divesting the online brokerage comes as Yellow Pages Ltd. continues to struggle with declines in its paper listings business and stagnant growth in its digital-first efforts. In January, 2018, Yellow Pages cut 500 jobs, about 18 per cent of its work force at the time.

DPCF CEO Marco Dodier, a Canadian startup veteran appointed to the job in 2009, and his management team are intended to remain on the job after the purchase. About $15-million will be invested to fuel the company’s expansion.

Purplebricks raised $177-million (U.S.) in March when German media titan Axel Springer bought an 11.5-per-cent stake, and has recently expanded to Australia and the United States. The company says it had $81-million (CAD) in revenue for the first half of 2018, and its market capitalization sits around $1.6-billion. Purplebricks has sparred with analysts in recent months over claims that it has inflated the percentage of homes that eventually sell on its platform.

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