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Thursday, December 3, 2015

4 Reasons Tech Should Disrupt the Philippine Real Estate Industry

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The Philippines’ transport industry—privatized yet heavily regulated—is a textbook example of how public transport shouldn’t be run. It is inefficient, and the ones who lose are the riding public. This is one of the reasons tech disruption, in the form of ride-sharing and taxi-hailing apps, are very successful. Smartphone apps like Uber and GrabTaxi are changing how the public is demanding service: whenever and wherever they need it. Although the response of taxi companies and regulators is to maintain the status quo, the public marches on with technology.

Which begs the question: what if there could be an Uber of Philippine real estate? If tech innovation could disrupt an inefficient industry, what’s to stop others from disrupting real estate? In fact, whether the industry likes it or not, property hunters’ behavior is rapidly shifting, and they’re taking their home-search online. Here’s why:

1. Tech innovations put the power to homebuyers

In the not-too-distant past, people looking for properties drive by neighborhoods or leaf through pages of Sunday classifieds to find apartments for sale or for rent. This is quickly changing.

A 2014 survey by Lamudi Philippines found that 9 out of 10 real estate agents said that the Internet is now the preferred tool during the house-hunting process, while a 2015 survey conducted by the real estate portal found that Facebook, Google, and other online means are used by homebuyers in looking for properties 92 percent of the time.

This puts the power to homebuyers, who until recently have to rely on information fed to them by real estate agents. Homebuyers now can choose the property that falls within their requirements, regardless of which broker is handling it. In effect, they get to choose the property that falls within their budget, and let the agent do the grinding later.

2. Mere descriptions won’t cut it

If you have you ever seen classified ad posts of properties for sale or for rent, then you know how spectacularly short and unhelpful they are. It’s not because brevity for them is a virtue, but because every square inch of newspaper is expensive. Hence, it’s not unusual to see an advertisement like this:

“2BR Condo Makati Flood-free P50K/M.”

Besides generic location, number of bedroom, and price, there’s not much you’ll know about the property, so you have to see it for yourself. Imagine the inconvenience of driving to the property only to find out that it’s too rundown for your taste.

Since listing portals are created to list every available property in the market, each listing can be as detailed as possible and have plenty of features, from map view, 360-degree photography, videos, and even loan calculators, capturing more targeted customers and saving time on probing on the part of the agent.

3. Data can inform agents’ marketing decisions

What if agents can know what time of the day homebuyers browse properties online, which locations they look at more frequently, and which property features interest them. Listing portals can provide data on these, and a lot more.

Gone are the days when marketing is all about gut-feel. Real estate agents can now use data and determine their target customers’ preferences on price, location, and property type so they can align their marketing strategies accordingly.

4. Agent ratings may change the way professionals do business

If customers can leave comments or feedback on their experience with a resort, a restaurant, or an airline, there is no reason not to apply this to real estate agents. After all, these professionals offer a service and their customers have every right to write a glowing assessment or express dissatisfaction.

In fact, agent ratings are not new. U.S.-based portals like Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin have this feature put in place. Although there are those who can potentially game the system, strict guidelines can be put in place to ensure that only legitimate comments from legitimate clients can write and submit a review.

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