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A tech start-up is disrupting how we search for homes to buy with a team of just three


When we at Hutbitat set out to tackle the real estate market, we were fully aware that many before us had already tried and failed with traditional portals.

Hence, we decided to not go in that direction. By utilising the power of big data, we are confident that we have come up with something better for everyone.

Within the span of a year, we have managed to amass a huge number of listings with just 3 employees. This can only be done with quality engineering work.

We have spent countless hours training the system to learn and interpret data. With time, our system becomes smarter, and is able to provide quality information to the end user. This results in an effective use of manpower without quality compromise.

Having covered the majority of Victoria and New South Wales, with about 80,000 active listings, we are now looking to expand to Western Australia in the upcoming months.

We are not a traditional portal. We are a big data search engine and we believe that the traditional model of advertising for properties is ripe for disruption.

Why Hutbitat? What makes us different?

We face this question all the time.

The first thing we noticed was that home owners are paying exorbitant prices to have their listings up on traditional portals. In addition, these listings become biased due to the fact that they are ranked based on how much vendors pay the portals.

As a result, listings are shown to the users the way the portal wants the users to see it. We’ve taken that bias out of the equation simply because we do not charge anyone to have their listings up on Hutbitat. Our listings are presented in full to the user so that they can make an informed decision.

Building upon the first point, we understand that agencies have spent considerable amount of money building their websites. Thus, it makes no sense to pay more to have their listings up on another portal. If that is the case, why bother building a website in the first place?

We understand the importance of brand ownership and work to find ways to affirm the brand of these agents. For example, we direct traffic straight to the agency websites. We believe this will offer a return of investment to the agencies.

Last but not least, the home search experience. Anyone who has tried house hunting will know how frustrating it can be to open multiple tabs, try to compare prices and at the same time have a good understanding of their search parameters.

We aim to change all of that by providing quality supplementary information. Currently, we include graphs indicating median prices, amenity data options and also transportation guides.

These supplementary information are at the very core of what makes Hutbitat special and we are intent on making them more useful to the users.

Intelligence that evolves

Using automatic discovery, our intelligent system discovers listings across thousands of websites and automatically formats them to be presentable on Hutbitat.

With our data, we are able to calculate real time prices of the search area the user is looking at. This allows home seekers to have a better understanding of home prices within a search area.

Lastly, we provide easily digestable quality information. We receive a ton of requests ranging from NBN availability to the ability to find out if a home has insulated walls. There is a huge amount of data out on the web and our job is to make it easily understandable for the user.

What is the story behind Hutbitat?

The three of us all hail from the Aussie tech industry and are incredibly passionate about using technology to empower the average consumer.

We met around 2013 via friends and hatched the idea.

The lightbulb moment happened after we realised how difficult it was to find a place using traditional portals in Australia. We do not feel that current portals are good enough, given the vast amount of resources that they have at hand.

For example, REA has a market cap of $6 billion. Hence, we decided to embark on this journey after collating feedback from Australians. We do not feel that it is merely sufficient to show just the listing and call it a day.

In September 2014, Hutbitat was born. We want to be the one stop search service that comes to mind when people think of home search.

If you had the joy/misfortune of searching for a home before, you can understand the stumbling blocks involved when looking at listings online. You might have to open Google Maps to further understand the area or search for information relevant to that area.

We still have a lot of work to do to reach our goal but what I can say is that we are taking small but important steps towards that goal.

For example, you can easily search for one particular address with Hutbitat. One particular user on Reddit commented, “Great execution. I love how you can search for a specific place instead of being restricted to suburbs.”

This is not something you can easily do on traditional portals. Again, we are not a portal and we have no intention to become one. As a property search engine, we have implemented bigger and better things. There is a huge amount of information out there and our job is just to make all that easy to digest for the common user.

Wei Lee is one of the three co-founders of the new property search engine, Hutbitat.