Location: Fresno, CA | Launched: 2015 | Number of agents: 65
When you first hit FresYes Realty’s homepage, you won’t find the typical homesearch and featured listings front and center.
Instead, the Fresno-based brokerage supplies a web experience more reminiscent of a local newspaper, with a spotlight on local content first, and listings near the bottom of the page.
Jason Farris launched the brokerage in 2015 after working as an agent at another Fresno brokerage. He had assembled a team of writers and editors to produce the company blog. When the online publication became bigger than they anticipated, he and six agents launched their own brokerage with a fresh approach.
Today, FresYes is a 65-agent brokerage with a mission to bring the community together in the digital and physical space. The brokerage’s team of seven writers and editors produces original, hyperlocal content – the centerpiece of their website.
The name is a sentiment to a city commonly referred to as the “armpit” of California. Farris hopes to change the way people see Fresno. “I wanted to infuse [Fresno] with positivity by telling the stories of the people and places behind it,” Farris said.
He describes FresYes as a media company that sells real estate. He believes that real estate should be more about stories, lifestyle and community than houses and transactions. And FresYes Realty’s digital strategy reflects that. “What value am I bringing with search if everyone is going to Zillow?” he said.
Farris has always been somewhere near the front lines of the digital world.
The son of two computer programmers, he first learned to program in the ‘80s on a Commodore 64. In 2006, he made an account on a platform few people knew how to describe at the time, where he learned to not only tweet his own thoughts, but listen to and connect with other people.
“I learned how to build relationships through Twitter,” Farris said.
It’s no surprise, then, that the majority of FresYes’s business comes from its website and social media. “As a media company, we have a deep understanding of digital advertising.”
Farris did a lot of legwork before launching FresYes. He spent time with every broker-owner in his professional sphere, asking them what they wish they’d have done differently in their respective businesses. He realized the only way to be successful was through a deep care and connection with his agents.
“I want my agents to have a chance to succeed, and the easiest way to do that is by giving them a bigger slice of commission,” Farris said. “It’s about people before profit.”
The same notion applies to the brokerage’s physical storefront. Situated in an expansive space near the bluffs of the San Joaquin River, the FresYes office feels more like a local coffee shop. The space is designed to serve as a community gathering place, and can be rented out free of charge. Passersby wander in to join a pop-up yoga class, or buy goods from local artisans. “It’s not a profit center, it’s a connection to the community.”
Despite keeping profit in the periphery, Farris says growth is the company’s biggest challenge. The key, he says, is to pace it. “A brokerage is never about a sprint – it’s the long haul.”