TECHNOLOGY

Digitizing the Property Search in Southeast Asia

Property24 and OLX Philippines show you how

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 03 Oct 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

As real estate booms in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia, so does real estate technology.

“Current trends in the real estate industry point to an increase in inventory. With this, we’d like to think that the demand for real estate will always be there. True to our tagline, ‘Find all properties here,’ we’ve continuously marketed Property24 as a premium platform that gives property seekers a comprehensive list of properties to choose from,” says Ferdie Perez, OLX Philippines Head of Real Estate.

While Property24 is free to property-seekers, the platform monetizes from a subscription-based model that gives leads to agents and brokers of people interested in buying or selling property.

Far from only providing leads on potential buyers, however, Property24 also aims to professionalize real estate professionals, which Leon van Onselen, general manager at real estate portal Property24, says is one of their biggest challenges as a company.

“To address this, we positioned Property24 as educational tools that help real estate professionals level-up their businesses. Through our advanced tools, we subtly convince interested parties that real estate should not be too difficult—especially with an easy-to-use platform like Property24,” he says.

Property24 also does market education for the buyer side of their platform, which van Onselen cites as a similar challenge.

“Filipinos have already embraced the online universe, we just need to help them understand that Property24 serves as the place where they can find all the available listings from reliable brokers and agents. Filipinos really can find their perfect home with Property24,” he says.

While other property portals across Southeast Asia may also face these same issues, the team feels they have several unique advantages, one of which is their integration with horizontal classifieds OLX Philippines.

“By combining OLX’s breadth and depth with Property24’s specialized tools for real estate, we provide the best platform that fulfill both real estate buyers and sellers’ needs. Sellers can generate more than 300,000 leads per month, buyers, on the other hand have access to 2,087 new property listings added each day,” says Perez.

As an example of the synergy between OLX Philippines and Property24, Perez points to the “Power of Two” campaign they jointly ran last year that rightfully positioned themselves as the largest real estate platform in the Philippines.

According to Perez, the value for consumers is the time saved in connecting with a reputable buyer, and most importantly, finding the right home. “Our interface allows buyers to effectively narrow down property searches to match their preferences in location, budget, and even number of rooms,” he notes.

Despite these milestones, the Property24 team believes they can still improve the platform.

“We’re always working towards optimizing our platform to accommodate user needs and demands. Apart from this, we’re also looking at building initiatives that seeks to zoom in on specific real estate issues such as the mismatch in supply and demand of low cost housing,” van Onselen says.

For others in Southeast Asia who may want to build a marketplace or platform, the Property24 leaders had plenty of advice. Perez emphasizes the importance of market research, particularly when competing with multiple platforms.

“Knowing the behavior and considerations of your target audience goes a long way in helping your platform go beyond its perceived function. Take your insights seriously—they are the foundation of the story you want your brand to tell,” he says.

As an example, research from OLX’s Data Hub showed that most property searches are completed by married working mothers. To leverage this fact, OLX updated its marketing efforts to focus on creating narratives that show how Property24 makes it easier for mothers and their families to find their dream home.

Yet even insights from data, Perez advises entrepreneurs that building a successful platform will take time.

“Successful platforms and marketplaces aren’t built overnight. To keep up with changing times and competitors, entrepreneurs have to be willing to go through a process of trial-and-error to address consumer demands, and optimize platforms,” he says.