Soho, a property discovery and management app that is building the world’s first online property network, recently launched in Australia and Singapore, and is being spearheaded by Jonathan Lui, whose departure from Airtasker last year has spawned another lucrative marketplace initiative in the “proptech” arena.
Mr Lui, who co-founded Airtasker in 2012 (which has since grown to support more than 1.5 million community members nationally and over $75 million in task transaction volume) has used this experience to create a more open and accessible network to service the burgeoning Australian and Singapore real estate markets.
Soho will eventually expand globally, with plans to enter other real estate markets in place for 2018. For Mr Lui, the idea of transforming property came when he and his wife were selling their home in Sydney after deciding to relocate to Singapore.
“The whole process of buying and selling a property is still very traditional and restricted,” he said.
“After listing our property online for sale, within just three days, we had more than 30 couples through the door and four offers. That’s when I realised that the only time properties were visible to potential buyers was after owners made the big decision to move, and had to be 100 percent committed to selling.
“There were many so buyers out there looking for properties who had no way of proactively contacting properties with their offers besides door-knocking, so they all just had to wait for the next property to come online,” Mr Lui said.
What is Soho doing differently?
Soho approaches this property paradigm differently, as owners and agents can use Soho to create and manage online profiles for each of their properties.
There is then an option to manage these properties either privately or publicly, with the latter allowing potential buyers and renters to reach out for details, similar to LinkedIn’s approach of hosting your professional CV online to reach potential employers.
Properties can also be advertised as For Sale/Auction or For Rent as per the traditional marketing process, which appeals to existing industry stakeholders such as agents, though with the added advantage of no advertising fees to use Soho’s marketplace.
Soho’s in-app messaging is also invaluable, as it connects all parties – buyers, sellers, renters and agents – directly, and by passes the usual overly formal and bureaucratic processes typically involved in the real estate space.
What exactly does Soho have to offer?
In summary, Soho serves the following stakeholders:
- Homeowners/ investors: can manage their home/investment properties via the management tools in Soho, which allows them to keep track of important documents and basic investment metrics such as capital gains, yields, strata fees and much more;
- Buyers can search through the entire network of properties and find the exact home they’re looking for — and not just the ones available on major property listing website;
- Renters can chat and apply online, and will soon be able to track their applications in real time or pay for rental bonds and rental payments online.
- Agents will now have access to a whole new suite of tools to help them sell and rent homes, such as broadening out the property networks to allow for passive interest, growing their network of buyers, sellers and tenants, and managing buyer and renter interest with instant chat and more.
Mr Lui said that for most people, the home is their largest asset and the biggest investment they will ever make, so it should be managed accordingly.
“Soho allows you to manage absolutely everything about your property, whether you are selling your home, renting it (or others) out, or to keep track of your investment portfolio,” he said.
“Soho comes with a full suite of management tools that help you track your investments by helping calculate basic investment metrics such capital gains, how much you’ve made on your property, bills strata rates, yields, what you’re making and losing — all on one, clear screen.”