Ajay Madhukar  |  Singapore
Published 2016-04-18 14:02:13

Many of today’s property-based sites are driven by consumer curated listings or postings and advertisements from property developers, agents and sellers. Many times they end up getting flooded by random and dud listings with insufficient information—and that’s a problem.

However, interested buyers and tenants are still expected to navigate through these different platforms to discover property that best suits their needs. While this practice may appeal to the ones who are aware of where they want to live, it often alienates the ones that don’t.

Such people have to put in great effort to find the right set of potential properties along with sufficient information to make a wise purchasing decision. They probably have to ask around, drive all the way to the location or carry out research on multiple platforms. This ineffective and inefficient practice is something that PropSocial is currently addressing through their platform.

Image Credit: PropSocial
Image Credit: PropSocial

PropSocial in essence is an interactive property-based web platform that property buyers, investors, sellers and tenants could use to find property that meets their requirements. It’s also an avenue where the real-estate community as a whole (includes sellers, buyers, agents, investors, tenants, etc.) can be honest and express any of their property-related concerns.

Magdelin Tan, the General Manager, spearheaded the development PropSocial along with a team of 2 software engineers, a content team of 4 individuals, and a business development team of 4 others. The core pioneering team initially worked on Propwall and iBilik before The Star Publications acquired it.

Even though this platform does have property listings like other property-based platforms, it sets itself apart from its competitors with this core thing—data, lots and lots of data.

The Power Of Data

Image Credit: PropSocial
Image Credit: PropSocial

Large pools of data are brought together to analyse selected property-related patterns. “In the long run this will produce results that create value. Therefore, this value will help us create more relevant content and help us build new features based on the users’ needs,” she believes.

“We aim to build a platform that helps resolve property buyers/users challenges and to shorten their property-buying time by providing them with comprehensive information and real property insights. Thus making their decision-making process less painful.”

Useful map that shows the locations of nearby malls and other amenities.

As soon as you search for a particular neighbourhood or property, PropSocial displays extensive information like the number of convenience stores, supermarkets, banks, medical centers, schools, etc., along with their location. The platform also provides an ethnic breakdown of the neighbourhood or property through an infographic. This enables potential home buyers to be aware of the amenities in the preferred neighbourhood before deciding if they’d actually like to make a purchase.

Image Credit: PropSocial
Image Credit: PropSocial

As you continue to scroll down the page, you’ll even get to check out a representation of the historical transaction prices within the neighbourhood, the analysis of average transaction prices, and the consumer price index.

Some of the data presented on this platform were obtained from Google maps itself, and the rest of the data is obtained through research and from purchased reports from the government sector. This data is further supplemented by the fair and honest reviews from their users, and each reviewer has the opportunity to rate the neighbourhood or property on factors such as traffic, accessibility, safety and convenience.

So What’s The Point Of Being So Data Driven?

Image Credit: PropSocial
Image Credit: PropSocial

I once spoke to an individual from the real estate industry, and he told me that you could never have enough information when purchasing a house. And to a large degree that’s true.

The amount and accuracy of data that a seller, buyer or a tenant might need depends primarily on their motives. For example, a seller making a pricing decision today requires a completely different set of analysis than someone considering selling within the next few years; and the same concept can be applied to buyers and tenants as well.

Providing such unfiltered, unbiased and honest insights, comments and opinions gives PropSocial the necessary credibility to appeal to serious buyers and tenants.

Image Credit: PropSocial
Image Credit: PropSocial

Users can also check out the classified ads that are listed on the platform. Magdelin further highlighted, “A common complaint from real users is that there are too many fake classified ads being posted on websites, so we actually have a system in place to eliminate this problem.”

She then went on to explain, “Our classified ads are ranked based on a score system/algorithm that takes into account the agent’s quality of services (rated by property buyers) and the quality of their ads. The ranking algorithm is based on multiple criteria. This will help to eliminate dud agents and it helps buyers get quality listings.”

Image Credit: PropSocial
Image Credit: PropSocial

Currently the platform’s classified ads are ranked based on qualitative criteria such as the number of photos that are provided, accurate property descriptions, accurate details, and also the user rating of a given agent, their profiles, their contributions through reviews or discussions, among other criteria.

Users can also save time by making use of PropSocial’s search tool to get more personalized results that suit their requirements. They can enter their requirements like their budget, the number of bedrooms they’re looking for, any particular landmarks, factors like traffic condition, safety, conveniency, etc, or whether they’re looking for a property nearby a specific LRT station, among others, and PropSocial can filter through their classified and provide them with ones that match their requirements.

Playing On The Agent’s Team

Image Credit: PropSocial
Image Credit: PropSocial

Even though this platform caters to the needs of consumers, it doesn’t displace the role that property agents and property developers play within the ecosystem, as other property-based startups intend to do. In fact, it greatly assists them, and it even gives the really good ones the avenue to expand their appeal to interested sellers, buyers and tenants.

PropSocial is able to achieve this by allowing them to create their own profiles and by letting them make use of their community features like the discussion boards. These discussion boards bridge the usual divide between buyers and sellers, and it gives all users the avenue to voice out their opinions and concerns.

Furthermore, registered users are also able to use this feature to get free advice from experienced agents on the Discussion board. The community can then rate these agents based on the assistance they received, and the PropSocial team will verify each claim before it goes live.

The Strategy For Retention

Image Credit: PropSocial

PropSocial’s strategy to build their brand and to retain their followers is simple. They’d rather appeal to the entire real-estate community that they can further educate and develop than only focusing on one stakeholder group. To garner such camaraderie on their platform, they even have a rewards system in place that rewards user contributions such as a writing a property review, participating in the discussion topic, following a certain neighbourhood, etc.

Users can then redeem their accumulated points for things like movie tickets, Starbucks or Parkson vouchers, Xiaomi phones, etc. “This will help in retaining them. From time to time, we also improve and create new features that will help home buyers. PropSocial’s content team also shares interesting and educational articles on a weekly basis to provide their users with interesting insights,” she added.

Other than that, they’ve wisely diversified their reach by providing Chinese content on their portal, which most other property websites have not fully leveraged on. This has enabled them to be one of the largest Chinese property portals in Malaysia, with views surprisingly higher than the English content.

So far these strategies seems to be working for PropSocial—they’re able to attract a minimum of 350k pageviews a month along with 105k unique visitors while maintaining the vibrancy of their community’s ecosystem.

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