Interview with Sarah Fong, Founder of SuiteCity

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Sarah Fong About the Founder
Sarah Fong is the founder of SuiteCity.

Before starting SuiteCity.ca, she was an economist who worked as a Senior Market Analyst at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). She provided professionals and consumers of the residential real estate industry with relevant and timely market data and analysis. This involved reporting on the conditions of real estate markets, presenting at conferences and events, and acting as a media spokesperson on behalf of CMHC. She covered all forms of residential housing in the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, and Brantford markets.

Prior to CMHC, Sarah was a consultant at Deloitte and a proud University of Waterloo grad!

What is SuiteCity?

SuiteCity.ca is an online platform that helps condo buyers, sellers, and investors manage the entire process of sale from the search/list stage to negotiations and close. We are bringing the offline experience online, giving buyers and sellers more control over the sale of their condo, and thus saving them money.

We are the low-cost alternative to the real estate agent for digitally-savvy buyers, sellers, and investors.

What was the inspiration behind SuiteCity?

The inspiration came from years of working as a real estate analyst and hearing countless stories from friends whom had bought/sold condos with an agent and felt that the services they received were not in-line with the cost of using an agent. The average price of a resale condo in Toronto is $350,000, and in a typical real estate transaction in Ontario, the commission rate for using an agent’s services is 5%. This translates into $17,500! The commission fee-based business model that is tied to the fluctuation in home prices simply does not make sense.

I wanted to use technology to give digitally-savvy buyers and sellers an alternative to using the real estate agent. The focus of SuiteCity is on bringing value to the consumer and shifting the power back into their hands. With digital technology being more accessible than ever before, buyers and sellers can connect directly and find all the information they need for conducting their own purchase/sale.

Why condos?

There are several reasons. First of all, nearly 1 out of 4 condos are investor-owned, making condos a commodity for many buyers and sellers. Even for the typical end-user buyer/seller, condos are as much of an investment as it is a home. This means they want to save money on the transaction costs. Also, since there are many comparables when it comes to condos, it is easy for buyers and sellers to compare features and amenities online and make informed decisions quickly and easily. There is a standard process here and our aim is to digitize it, saving people time and money.

How does it work?

Using SuiteCity is easy and it’s free to sign up (and always free for buyers)! Condo sellers create listings easily and market them through SuiteCity and social media channels. Buyers browse listings in their area and when they find something they want to view in-person, they can arrange it directly with the seller. If they like what they see, they can submit an offer to the seller. Once a seller receives an offer they are happy with, they can choose to accept it and work with the buyer. SuiteCity is social, so buyers can ‘like’ listings and create wishlists of their own to share across the platform and social media.

We have many features in the works, and will be getting more feedback from our early customers as we develop the site.

What does it cost to use SuiteCity?

SuiteCity is free for buyers and sellers to sign up. Sellers pay a fee for listing their condo.

Why do you love being an entrepreur?

“I love being an entrepreneur because it is a journey of discovery and creativity. I get to build the entire system from the ground up and learn something new everyday. While there are certainly some very very tough days with challenges that seem impossible to overcome at first, the fun comes from trying to find that “aha!” solution that does work.”

What message would you like to share with other youth who are considering becoming entrepreneurs?

“Ask yourself if you are living the life you want, and if not, do something about it. This doesn’t necessarily mean becoming an entrepreneur, but you can and should spend your day doing the things that help you build the life that you want.”

What does the value of the Spin Master Innovation Fund mean to you?

“The Spin Master Innovation Fund has provided me with the opportunity to work with a mentor who was specifically chosen for my business needs, as well as access to the essential startup funding, advice and support from the CYBF and Spin Master communities.”

Looking for more? Contact Sarah at sarah@suitecity.ca.