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Real estate, meet real time: This start-up lets you follow the house of your dreams like your favorite Instagram celebrity

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Australia’s adoption of on-demand technology has finally reached the real estate industry. followit is best likened to Instagram – except you don’t follow friends or celebrities – you follow houses, streets or suburbs where you want to live, with information being delivered to your feed in real time, that will help you make better informed real estate decisions.

Western Australia will become the first state in Australia to officially experience followit, after successful beta testing on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. During its beta testing, agents representing 85 per cent of the listings were successfully trialling the country’s first live platform that gives renters and buyers up-to-the-second property information the moment it is listed.  Following Western Australia’s launch, a rollout across Australia will begin from March 2016.

followit’s power is due to its simplicity; house hunters simply follow whatever they like – from a house, street or suburb, to a trusted real estate agent and the homes they’re selling or leasing. Once a property is listed that matches their search criteria, a notification is sent to them in real time, enabling them to pounce on a hot opportunity before someone else does.

“followit is real estate in real time, and there is simply nothing else like it in Australia,” said Chris Adams, an American tech strategist and advisor who now lives in Australia and is advising followit.

Chris’ pedigree for executing trends is world renowned, having worked with the likes of Amazon (Chris ran entertainment business development in the company’s early days securing deals with studios, networks and record labels), helped build Participant Media, a film financing company founded by eBay’s first President Jeff Skoll and then Producing “Facebook Diaries” for Facebook which launched video onto the social network and ultimately led to the launch of the ubiquitous Share button.

Chris Adams
Chris Adams

What gap in the market is followit filling?

“followit harnesses the latest trend – push communications, and this solves people’s attention span issues.  It answers the question – how do I get what I want, and only what I want, because I am time poor.  Consumers are demanding information in real time, and they are using this information to get the best deals,” Chris explained.

“Apps like Pinterest and Instagram have made us very voyeuristic, with followit, even if you’re not actively in the market to buy or rent, you can receive regular updates on the properties that quench your real estate thirst. You may not be intending to buy, but when the right home comes up for grabs, we expect that many people won’t be able to help themselves but buy!”

Properties will sell faster, agents will be able to sell more properties, and consumers will be able to free up their time and only react to properties that tick all the right boxes.

followit is also looking to become an essential tool for the Australian rental market, where timing is everything and the competition is cutthroat.

followit will also become an essential tool for the Australian rental market, where timing is everything and the competition is cutthroat. “Property inspections often resemble a football scrum with 30 people scrambling to submit their application forms before the competition,” said Michael Sheargold, Executive Director of followit. “Now with followit, renters will be alerted the second a property is listed, so they can react before anyone else does.”

The agents will love followit too

John Percudani, Managing Director of Realmark, is considered one of Western Australia’s most influential real estate agents.  “followit is an important step forward for the real estate industry because it’s designed from the customer’s perspective.  Real estate agents need to advance the way we communicate, otherwise we will become redundant.

“Much in the same way Apple is successful because it is intuitive of human behaviour, I believe followit will be successful as it provides a way for the consumer to interact in a manner that best suits them.  It doesn’t force the agent’s relationship on to the buyer – with followit, that relationship starts organically because the client reaches out to the agent when they are ready and the information is customised to their needs.  And with that, trust is built naturally.”

“The current advertising portals don’t operate that way – those models operate on a traditional ‘push’ led functionality. followit, through its ‘follow’ application, allows consumers to passively discover opportunities or market insights that are curated to their requirements – it’s an attraction or “pull” functionality. And that’s a great thing for both the industry and the consumer and sets up a contemporary business relationship.”

For real estate agents, followit will put an end to the most common gripe consumers have with agents – poor communication.

Currently, agents are overwhelmed with the many ways they can communicate with buyers/sellers. A common argument – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to contact ever lead to tell them when a property’s circumstances changes. With followit, one simple push notification can communicate instantly to the entire market a price update, new listing, a live auction update or a contract being issued.

followit organises house hunters into live pools of qualified leads for real estate agents. For example, if an agent has just listed a house in Dalkeith’s most desirable street, they can now push a live message out to everyone that is following that street, all from the convenience of their smartphone. Theoretically, they are now talking to the entire market, not just the people they have met.

On top of this increased efficiency, followit also delivers real-time analytics to help secure realistic pricing.

Followit is free for house hunters and is competitively priced for real estate agents to use as a marketing tool.

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