iProperty looks to innovate property search by “democratising data”
By Dzof Azmi June 20, 2017
- Leverages official transacted data from valuation dept to give homebuyers more context
- Views agents, developers as customers who use iProperty to give better info to buyers
"WE'RE really working to change the way the world experiences property."
This was the bold claim made yesterday by Haresh Khoobchandani, the CEO of iProperty.com during the launch of their new mobile app, all the while espousing the website's ability to let house buyers gain insight into potential purchases by viewing them in the context of housing prices and rental yields in the area.
iProperty.com claims to be Malaysia's number one property portal attracting more than 10.5 million page views in a month, and Haresh believes they are in a prime position to connect even more homebuyers with agents and developers with their new app.
The app was developed in Malaysia and has already been rolled out in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and eventually also cover Singapore and Indonesia. "More and more you will see us innovating in Malaysia for the region," explains Haresh.
He points out that Malaysia only has 20 percent of its media ad budgets spent on digital channels. And, he ventures that for the property sector the ratio is probably even lower than that. Yet, 90 percent of buyers search online when searching for homes, and they're looking beyond traditional listings.
Using local data to make better house-buying decisions
"Malaysian consumers are now much smarter than they were many years ago," said Premendran Pathmanathan, Brickz.my General Manager, noting that users want access to the data to help them make their own decisions.
It was this insight that led to iProperty buying out Brickz.my last year, in the process gaining access to officially transacted data sourced from the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH). "The first thing that Brickz.my did when we became part of iProperty last year was integrate transacted prices into iProperty itself," says Premendran.
And iProperty now wants to share this data with the property buying world.
"We want to democratise that data and give access to consumers and developers alike to make smart decisions," concluded Haresh.
As a result, buyers using iProperty.com can now compare the price of the property they are interested in with historical transaction prices for other similar properties in the area. "The number one concern (for the buyer) is 'Am I overpaying for something?'," highlighted Premendran.
Another feature is to allow users to determine how strong demand is within an area, by seeing how many people are looking at one particular residency as compared to other similar projects in the area.
The website will also allow users to look at historical trends of what tenants are paying for rent in the area.
All these features are already implemented on the website right now, and will be introduced to the mobile app in the near future.
Working with agents and developers
Access to more information is good for the buyer, but what surprised Haresh was the reception from the agents. "We thought there was going to be a huge repercussion with the agent side," he confided, but what they found instead was that agents used the feature to highlight true market prices to their clients. "Agents are able to convince buyers and sellers and therefore conclude their deals a bit faster."
Offering enhanced value to agents and developers is important to iProperty with Haresh declaring, "Our customers are the agents and developers". Buyers who come to search for information are the audience, while it is developers and agents who pay to advertise and to list properties who are iProperty's actual customers.
Still, there are those agents who feel that property portals such as iProperty have eaten into their livelihoods. Which is why Haresh goes to pains to declare, "Our business model is not to take over the agent." Instead, he wants agents to use iProperty to do their work better. "More leads can be generated. They can do better branding as well," he says.
Ultimately, these latest steps taken by iProperty are in line with the company's ambitions for the future. Quoting Microsoft chief, Satya Nadella, Haresh says, "The industry respects innovation and not tradition.”
Further emphasising that innovation is at the heart of REA Group, the Aussie based property digital advertising company that acquired iProperty in 2015, Haresh adds that “innovation is going to be at the heart of iProperty Asia from Malaysia.