Missing ingredient is not just the product yeah. It’s the ‘last mile connection.’

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This article was inspired by Ms. R who spoke to me about a company she may be joining. Proptech is now the buzzword of the real estate industry. Proptech is simply property technology. It is huge and there are way too many things inside currently. Remember those days when real estate marketing people used flyers to sell properties in the neighbourhood? Of course they still do so selectively but the listings are now usually online in some property listing sites. There are also property review sites where we could read more of the advantages and the disadvantages of the project. Beyond these, in some more advanced real estate markets, investors could now buy homes via bricks. So, instead of that whole 1,000 sq ft condo, one could just invest in 19 sq ft for example since 1,000 sq ft condo is too expensive in some markets.  Or it’s because of flexibility. Instead of just buying a 1,000 sq ft condo, how about buying 100 sq ft in 10 different condos? So proptech facilitates all these transactions and this is what makes it so interesting.

We used to buy only properties within our neighbourhood or even within the same state. Today we may buy in some other cities but viewing it is a hassle. Proptech enables potential buyers to view these units in some faraway city through the web. 360 degree view for example and we could even view the surrounding! This meant that we need to only fly to projects which we have viewed and liked while skipping the rest which did not have such 360 degree videos or even uninteresting ones. There are many companies with viable products. However, did these proptech companies sell just the idea or selling it as a potential buyer / investor? When approaching the developer, these proptech companies would tell how the trend is now for proptech. They will highlight how proptech is changing many real estate markets. In fact if they have a stronger competitor, they will highlight the fact that they were cheaper. Seriously, how about telling the developers that ‘convenience and accessibility will increase the potential exposure and thus the decision to buy?’ How about asking the developer about the process that they will go through if they (the developers) want to buy properties in some far away place, what would they need?  Without the right approach, the proptech company will remain stuck in an awesome turbo-charged car but running at 1st gear until the next company comes along with a similar product a few months down the road. Usually, the next company will use price as a selling point and the cycle continues.

In fact many developers have good products too even if not everyone would love everything about the project. A very good example, if the project is VERY FAR away from the city centre, the selling point is always that one can buy bigger but cheaper. The sales team would continue to use this point over and over and over. Frankly, IF the potential buyer has already arrived at your sales gallery in that far away place, they have already accepted this fact; bigger but cheaper. What you may want to know may include, are they buying for a family with young kids, are they buying for a family with grandparents. Another thing may be, were they buying for the children’s education, whether it’s primary, secondary or even international schools. It may even be due to the water elements in the project which they love. Knowing all these would help the potential buyer to make the decision to buy because the other 4 potential projects nearby they went to was only talking about ‘buying bigger and cheaper!’

Many believe that proptech is the future. I think we could not run away from this fact. Many developments, especially the integrated ones are now much further away from the city centre. Looking at the advanced real estate markets outside Malaysia, this will definitely be a trend for avery long time to come. However, that ‘last-mile’ connectivity where the company connected effectively to the needs of the potential customer is still mostly missing. Most of the time, companies believe their advanced technology or developer with better products could sell by itself. I hate to tell you this but the best product may not be the final winner. The product which meets the expectations of the buyer will be the winner. ‘MEETS the EXPECTATIONS’ would be the key. In the proptech world, all it takes is just hiring more programmers and a better product can be created. In the property world, every new launch 12 months down the road would usually come with even better features and design. Happy understanding and handling objections effectively.

written on 27 Aug 2018

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