3 biggest real estate agencies launch online platform

Online service, which also has two apps, will provide real-time information for agents and buyers

The three biggest estate agencies here have launched an online platform to provide real-time information for agents and buyers and also tries to overcome some of the issues on existing property portals.

SoReal Prop, as the collaboration is called, was first raised in early 2016 by the chief executives of PropNex Realty, ERA Realty and Huttons Asia after agents alerted them to the challenges they faced when subscribing to property portals. These included duplicated listings, high subscriptions, increasing fees and outdated information .

When the SoReal initiative was announced to other agencies on Friday, seven opted to sign up - Savills, C&H, HSR International Realtors, Singapore Realtors Inc, Global Alliance Property, CBRE and SLP International.

The 10 agencies as well as the Singapore Estate Agents Association, Institute of Estate Agents Singapore and KEO Connect signed a partnership agreement with SoReal Prop.

The service will have two apps - RealAgent app and RealHome app - and the SoReal Prop portal. Its RealAgent app will allow agents to retrieve more real-time information and generate detailed property reports, manage client queries, schedule appointments and request to attend open houses online.

The app has also incorporated the recent checklist for the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism guidelines, which agents can use for transactions.

Access to the RealAgent app will be free for all agents for a year and then priced affordably.

Property buyers and sellers can use the RealHome app to search for listings, connect to agents and review the agents after a transaction. This app is being tested, and its initial phase could be made available in the next six to eight weeks.

ERA Realty chief executive Jack Chua said yesterday: "In times of digital disruptions, the three of us knew the time was right to work together, embrace innovation and add value to industry stakeholders."

While the top three agencies have put seed capital into SoReal to kick-start the initiative, other agencies can also invest to become joint-venture partners.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said at the event that this is a timely move given the surge of property-related portals and services .

"It is also a good indication of the kind of healthy ground-up initiatives that are taking place and shows the strong desire of players in the industry to ride the transformation wave," Mr Lee added.

PropNex CEO Ismail Gafoor said the initiative "is by no means trying to be in a monopolistic position" to "destroy other property portals".

"New players will still come after this. What is important here is what is rightfully owned data of ours, and we can give it back to you with a different motive."

It is also no longer sufficient for agents to tap digital platforms alone but to perform a more advisory role. This means they need in-depth knowledge, he added. - THE STRAITS TIMES