As a first-time house buyer, I never expected the task to be so difficult. You’d think that with so many online platforms and offline methods (newspaper classified section, banners by the side of the road, etc.), finding a property that fits your requirements and budget would be that much easier.
After 11 gruelling months of tirelessly searching, I’m well versed with the private hell that comes with searching for a home to buy or even rent.
The experience can be boiled down into these 6 problems. So property startups, take note. These are real industry problems that you really should be dealing with.
1. Endless listings.
The first part of the process involves listing down potential properties that fulfils the necessary specifications. This is just one example when I look for properties in Petaling Jaya.
466 pages with 9317 entries! If I were to spend the time looking through every single entry, I’d get no other work done. Soon I’d have to go hunting for a new job to pay for that new property.
If I further filter the options to list only the ones with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, freehold, and unfurnished, it then decreases to 231 entries, which is STILL plenty.
Then I add on my budget, that left me with 58 entries. That’s 58 tabs on my computer. I switched between the tabs, calling each agent, compiling information into a spreadsheet. It was a painfully tedious process and this is just from one website.
I ended up rejecting most of them because of the next following points, but not before wasting a lot of time and phone credits.
2. Photos that weren’t even close to the real thing.
More often than not, I’ve seen properties listed that with photos that were A) completely outdated, and B) weren’t even the real thing.
I have to call the agent number listed for each property to check if the photos on display were even accurate representations. Some unfurnished properties were actually already furnished, some properties have furnished photos which looked pleasant but actually were not included in the selling price.
That really defeats the purpose of even having the photos there in the first place.
And worst yet, some listings have a picture of the residential building or house, but no pictures at all of the unit or interior of the house.
3. Old and outdated listings.
Sometimes, I’d chance upon a place I really like. However, when I do get in contact with the agent, it turns out that the property was sold off or has already been removed off the market.
Agents don’t update their listings to mention which ones have already been sold, probably because they still want their number on property platforms so that potential buyers would still call and they could get an opportunity to introduce other properties.
The frustration of having your hopes built up over and over again to have them dashed is very tiring.
4. Repeated listings.
Another odd thing that kept popping up was how the same property would be listed multiple times, even on the same website. Since I’m opening over 30 tabs at a time, sometimes I feel almost as if I’m in a Groundhog Day-loop, where I keep seeing the same thing.
I made the mistake of calling the same agent again to enquire about the same property. Let’s just say when by the time you introduce yourself for the third time, it gets awkward.
It’s hard to tell at first glance because they even use different images to attract clicks, then it turns out to be something I saw five pages ago. Sneaky.
5. Incomplete or inaccurate information.
Certain agents don’t provide all the details on the listing so that you’d be forced to call them and they can convince you to spend the time to take a look at the property for yourself.
One thing that really got annoying was how some agents even refused to reveal the actual location of the place until the very day I was supposed to pay a visit.
For a lot of the properties listed, particularly new developments, I couldn’t even tell if it was already completed, almost complete or would only be done in a few year’s time. Those 3D rendered pictures really don’t help at all in creating a realistic portrayal of the place so if the place was fully completed, having actual photos of the unit would be much preferable.
What’s worse than incomplete information is when the listings are misleading or just outright lies. I’ve encountered situations whereby the prices were way off from what was advertised, or when certain things were glossed over or hidden.
This frustrating lack of transparency sours the deal for me. After all, if they weren’t honest in the first place, what else would they be hiding from me that I might not notice when viewing the property?
6. Frustrations of dealing with agents.
There are good agents out there, but I’ve had my run-ins with a few less savoury characters. The main complaint I want to bring against them is their tendency to overpromise. They try to get you very interested in their property, then suddenly are unable to get the keys for you to view the place.
Or, they have no power at all to negotiate the price offers and constantly have to do a back-and-forth with the owners, which is really a waste of time.
So Now What?
I’ve listed a few problems and I know many househunters will know the similar pain. Earlier, I called for startups to try to address the problem I mentioned. Some do it by cutting out the agents, some try to curate the listings and others try to crowdsource community reviews in order to get accurate information.
One startup that wants to approach these problems is Bumbung. Launched in May this year, Bumbung is a platform that matches home hunters with properties.
If you head on over to their website to try out their services, one marked difference is that you’ll see zero listings. That’s because you’ll have to make a request first, with details such as the number of rooms needed, the house condition, your budget and an extra section where you can put in more specific conditions.
Bumbung then processes the requests and send the listings over to you. As these listings are curated to your requirements, that eliminates the problem of having to sort through multiple irrelevant listings. Up to this point, everything is free, so users don’t have to pay for the service offered.
The agents listed on Bumbung are also subjected to user ratings and reviews. According to the Bumbung team, this allows for greater transparency and accountability on the part of agents. They also explained that the agents themselves find value in this system, as they can build their own reputations up and escape any “slimy agent” misconceptions.
I managed to find a place after nearly a year of searching, but hopefully, your search doesn’t have to be that long.
This post was brought to you by Bumbung. To give their services a go, check out their website here.