My personal observations on the international and local (South African) real estate technology space: Facebook, Property Fox, Jigsaw, Zillow, RPR, Private Property, RE/MAX
- Facebook is venturing into real estate, by gradually rolling out listings to its market place platform in the US, read the full story here. If it works there, it’s likely to replicate it in other countries. Perfect platform as they have the audience, and all the data to do highly targeted ads. This has the potential to compete head-on with property portals if it works well. Google ventured into real estate too 7 years ago with integrated listings in Google maps, but failed. It is a tough nut to crack. (throwing tons of money at a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it). In my view, companies should focus on what they are good at, and perfect it, don’t be greedy.
- SA Homeloans buys into online estate agency Property Fox, giving a vote of confidence to online agencies. Early adopter and something that can pay off for them. I met with the energetic PropertyFox team a while ago in Cape Town: technology focused and a vision to change the way you buy real estate. Much like Leadhome, a lot of focus is on automation to simplify processes and reduce operational costs which leads to savings for clients (but with the difference that Leadhome is a hybrid agency, and Propertyfox an online agency).
- No word on the findings of the Jigsaw/Masterdeeds data breach investigation. It seems business as usual with all South African ID numbers and other personal details floating around on the dark web. Who gave permission for selling my personal details to a real estate group?
- Zillow is killing it in the US, and approached a symbolic $1 billion revenue mark this year. In case you didn’t know, property portals with big investors are in it for the money. With the recent announcement that Private Property will be bought over by a new consortium of Caxton, South Africa’s 2 largest bond originators and REBOSA, I’m wondering how Caxton will recover their R100 million spent. They certainly can’t reduce subscription fees as this will give #1 portal, Property24 more power.
- On that note, REBOSA is pushing ahead with its ‘SWITCH’ project. They have a pipe-dream to consolidate real estate listing data in South Africa and give agents more control over portals. It is pretty much based on RPR in the US. Only problem is, it is not working in the US, with Brad Inman calling it a failure. With over $180 million already spent, “it should be shut down”. Biggest problem? To get buy-in from everyone. You will have the same problem in South Africa.
- RE/MAX has launched ‘Ask RE/MAX’ on a subdomain. For SEO, unique, quality content is king. You can’t expect to only load listings on your real estate website and get top ranking. Those days are long gone. They are aiming for 25% market share by 2025. Good search engine ranking is key to get more leads into your sales funnel.