FazWaz out to differentiate itself from Thailand’s property portals
By A. Asohan May 19, 2015
- Data-driven method to ensure buyers can make informed decisions
- Believes the data it’s gathering can help it add value to the industry too
NEXT to e-commerce and online shopping, it seems that the online business to get into in South-East Asia is property portals.
Just this month, two property portals were launched in Malaysia – Brickz.my and TheEdgeProperty.com – while in Singapore, flush with new funds, 99.co is taking the battle to long-established player PropertyGuru.
Up north, Thailand also plays host to a wide array of property portals, from ThinkOfLiving (which was acquired by Malaysia’s iProperty in March) and TheMoveChannel to ThailandProperty.com. With what may seem like a glut, differentiation and niche plays are key.
Newcomer FazWaz certainly thinks it has unique value propositions, describing itself as a “data-driven” property portal, and one that, for now at least, is specialising in the condominium market in the popular tourist destination of Phuket.
The company says it provides instant and easy access to the largest selection of newly built condominium homes, all on a platform that aims to simplify the process in researching and identifying a property to purchase.
The portal launched on April 24, with its focus on “new-build condos, although we will be offering villas and townhouses in the very near future,” said cofounder and chief operating officer Paul Trayman.
“We will unlikely extend to other verticals, although we will see what the market response is. We believe we are catering for a majority of consumers by offering condos (and soon villas),” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) via email.
FazWaz said it aims to become the must-use resource for consumers interested in the Thailand property market, by offering special tools and information necessary to make smarter property decisions.
It says it is working on “the most accurate online valuation system available in Thailand” using an algorithm developed by a team of data and IT experts, “analysing millions of data points relating to a huge selection of property characteristics and features.”
“FazWaz has been created to transform the way users find, research and buy properties in Thailand by providing tools, statistics and free information to empower them,” said cofounder and chief executive officer Michael Kenner (pic).
“Our team of experts have designed our services with the aim of creating a transparent and free marketplace and [we] believe that information should be easily accessible to everyone,” he said in an official statement.
The portal allows property developers to list homes for sale for free, and said it will soon allow these users to edit information, add new properties, give construction updates, and list special offers or promotions and other relevant information about their projects that they wish consumers to know.
When asked why home owners or real estate agents were not allowed to list properties, Trayman said that FazWaz is currently only dealing with developers directly.
“This is for a number of reasons: 1) So that we can verify the correct owners; 2) To maintain the data and keep it consistent and also avoid duplications; and 3) To enable us to be transparent by offering accurate market data and analytics.
“With private homeowners and agents, the selling prices and other information are in some cases not wholly correct or reflective of today’s market,” he said.
Fazwaz was formed by essentially the same team behind LivePhuket.com, the exclusive property partner with The Phuket News and which within 1.5 years, has become one of leading real estate companies in Phuket, according to Trayman (pic).
It is a bootstrapped startup and will continue in this mode for “some time,” he said, however adding that it is looking at funding to help it scale quicker.
“We are looking for ‘smart money’ from investors that can bring ‘more than just money’ to help with our growth and overall success,” he said.
CEO Kenner has a background in IT and investment banking, having worked at Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse for a number of years.
Trayman said his own background includes growing a real estate company in Dubai, after which he worked for a number of technology startups in a business development capacity.
In addition to Kenner and Trayman, the founding team includes Alon Tishler, its chief data officer who was a project manager in the private sector; and chief sales officer Brennan Campbell, who has spent six years working in real estate property sales in Thailand and is responsible for property developer relationships and establishing FazWaz’s real estate partners.
According to Trayman, another potential cofounder – it’s not 100% official yet, pending the restructuring of its shareholder agreement – is a community figure with 28 years’ experience in the Asian real estate market, and who boasts “vast contacts and reach within the developer community across Asia.”
The FazWaz team is 13-strong now, with development teams based out of India and the United Kingdom. “We are looking at growing our off-shore teams, especially to help with the data onboarding and IT development,” Trayman added.
The portal and the business
Currently, FazWaz is in English, but Trayman said the site was built to be able to operate easily in multiple languages.
“The site is currently launched in English only because we launched it into the Phuket market first to test it out. We are going to be offering Thai-language very soon,” he added.
FazWaz said it expanding into locations other than Phuket, but will not announce them until it is fully ready to serve customers in those locations.
“We are soon launching in Pattaya, as we want to ensure we have the largest and greatest selection of properties available on FazWaz,” said Trayman.
“We launched Phuket with just under 3,000 properties and will soon have nearly 6,000 units live there. This is many times more than any other platform.
“The gathering, verifying and adding of data is an intensive process and we need to make sure our information is accurate before we go live,” he added.
With listing free, how exactly is FazWaz going to make money? What’s its business model?
“We are currently looking at multiple business models. One is working directly with developers; another is to work in a lean agency model where all enquiries are dealt with by us or a partner agent representing us in each location,” said Trayman.
“We are also compiling a huge amount of data, and building the first real property index across Thailand.
“This, we believe, will be valuable to a number of parties, including developers, agents, sellers, institutional investors, banks and other government and non-governmental agencies,” he added.
But there’s that glut of Thai property portals. How does FazWaz differentiate itself? What unique value does it bring to the table?
“All the current portals in Thailand (and outside it) are a mash-up of listings – in many cases duplicated, with unreliable data from multiple agents or owners,” Trayman claimed.
“FazWaz controls and verifies the data entered into it. We are providing tools, analytics and market data to make the market more transparent and educate consumers to help them make more informed buying decisions.
“We are the only platform that lets consumers make like-for-like comparisons on property developments and the units available in them.
“We also have more choice – 10 times what most other platforms have – and more ways to narrow down your search to find the unit, features, and price you want,” he declared.
Add to that its property index, and with the amount of data it is gathering, collating and analysing, FazWaz also believes that would be able to provide insights, valuations, trends, reports and market data “that will be invaluable to buyers, sellers, developers, agents and anyone who is involved in the Thai real estate market,” said Trayman.
For now, what are its immediate priorities – for the business, and for the website?
FazWaz is rebuilding its website, aims to launch a mobile site because it expects 90% of its traffic to come from mobile devices, and is also hiring in a number of key positions.
“We are looking to raise capital and truly believe we have the team, network and product to become No 1 in Thailand and a number of other South-East Asian markets,” Trayman declared.
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