Agents join to ‘defeat’ portals

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Three of Singapore’s largest property agencies have joined forces to create a new app for consumers and agents.

What’s even more interesting is that yesterday’s launch event was supported by the Singapore Government in the form of the Second Minister for National Development.

Thailand, are you watching?

Developed and funded by ERA Realty, Huttons Asia and Singapore’s largest agency PropNex Realty, the RealHome app will aim to improve industry standards by allowing consumers to rate and review agents after a successful transaction.

Most of these agencies currently have associated agencies in Thailand.

“The online ratings and testimonials ‘reward’ well-deserving salespersons who performed to the best of their abilities,” said CEO of Huttons Asia Goh Kee Nguan.

“Through this transparent sharing, it will inadvertently raise the level of professionalism among salespersons who will strive for better reviews from their clients on the portal.”

As for whether agents have reason to be concerned about ratings and reviews by users, Kevin Lim, Chief Agency Director at ERA Realty told local media that slack agents will be on their toes, and agents who are doing good will be more than willing to ask for feedback.

An app for property agents was also launched by the three agencies, under a not-for-profit consortium, where agents can receive real-time transaction data and updated reports of specific properties.

“There are many apps and portals in the Singapore market, so if a real estate agent wants to be top notch and subscribe to many portals, it will be very costly,” explained Cijay Tew, Advisory Branch District Director of PropNex.

They can easily spend S$ 2,000 to S$ 3,000 per app. Some of them are meant for boosting purposes and can easily go up to S$ 10,000 (THB 230,000) per subscription, he added.

The agencies behind the initiative said access to the new app will be “priced affordably” after one year of free access.
Singapore’s Government has said it will make it easier for the industry to access property-related data later this year to help automate administrative processes that make up a property transaction.

“Our goal is for agents and property portals to be able to automatically certify key details, such as whether a seller is the legal owner of the property or whether a potential foreign tenant has a valid work pass in Singapore – all with the click of a button,” the Minister was quoted as saying.

There are some very interesting points to note about this development.

The business model is based on the fact that existing Singapore property portals are too expensive and thought not to be providing a good service to real estate agencies.

Last year a petition was started by disgruntled agents against price rises by the market-leading portal.

Although the new app is being touted as “not for profit” and will be “priced affordably” after a year of free access, the ultimate success will be determined solely by how successful the app will be for its users.
Marketing is not cheap, and word of mouth can only do so much.

For Thailand, this development should really act as a wake-up call in so many ways.

Thailand must adopt the same level of both transparent property data and up-to-date information.

Will it happen? Only time will tell but the only loser if it doesn’t happen within a few years will be Thailand.

Andrew Batt
The author of this article is Andrew Batt, the founder and editor of Andrew has been writing about property and real estate issues in Thailand and Southeast Asia for more than 10 years. He has worked for PropertyGuru Group, DDproperty, Dot Property Group, Hipflat and AsiaRents. He has also produced content for leading Thailand property developers and real estate agencies.

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