9 out of 10 real estate agents say future of business is online | Inquirer Business

9 out of 10 real estate agents say future of business is online

/ 02:25 AM April 25, 2015

Why go all the trouble making the trip, when you can see almost everything online?

Most Filipino house buyers, like their counterparts worldwide, are now browsing the Internet to purchase properties. Naturally, real estate agents are following the trend, making their presence felt online to connect and do business with property sellers and buyers.

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Jacqueline Van Den Ende, Lamudi managing director, showed Inquirer Property a survey conducted by Lamudi in 2014 which found that 88 percent of real estate brokers say the Internet is now being frequently used by prospective homebuyers. She added that the Web has become the No. 1 platform real estate brokers use to advertise their properties.

“What’s exciting is that Internet penetration in the Philippines is expected to cross the 50-percent mark this year because of the proliferation of affordable smartphones. More people are going online using their smartphones, and e-commerce sites and e-marketers are definitely taking notice. Filipinos book movie tickets, get taxi, order food, buy shoes and search for houses using their smartphones,” said Van Den Ende.

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In a separate interview, Enrique M. Soriano III, Ateneo program director for real estate and senior adviser for Wong+Bernstein Business Advisory Group, said that “a new and powerful channel has arrived that offers unlimited opportunities, unlimited options for the proponents and convenience for homebuyers. Expect more people to rely heavily on the Internet to purchase properties. Expect more real estate agents to leverage the digital world to seamlessly connect property owners and property buyers. In the United States, close to 92 percent of home purchases are initiated through online property brokers.”

House hunting

Van Den Ende also cited a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors in the United States finding 90 percent of all homebuyers initiating the house-hunting process online.

“Although we can say that the rate is lower for the Philippines, it is safe to assume that it will explode soon as Internet penetration in the country leaped 531 percent in the five years to 2013,” said Van Den Ende, adding this trend is expected to continue.

“Our platform’s onsite traffic increases phenomenally over months and our agents get leads and close sales through Lamudi. We also noticed that people using the Internet as a tool to find a property have very specific queries; for example, ‘affordable townhouse in New Manila’ or ‘house and lot for sale in Loyola Heights’ and we make sure that we provide search results for these queries through our listings. Also, the fact that many brokers are willing to pay for an online property listing service means that they are getting quality leads from the Internet,” she said.

Soriano affirmed that real estate online purchases has, indeed, been gaining momentum here.

Virtual trading

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Soriano narrated: “I had the fortune of once being part of the US-based Philippine operations of ERA Real Estate ( Electronic Realty Associates) in 2000 and our business model was virtual trading of real estate in our 2000 offices all over the world. Our office in Singapore was selling properties at a ratio of 1-to-1 online and offline (traditional). This was 15 years ago, and now online initiatives are now a mainstream strategy, something that property developers cannot do without.”

Last week, Inquirer Property broke the news that Philippine-based online brokerage firm Hoppler, the country’s first map-based property search engine, had announced its readiness for the Asean Economic Community. Ramon Ballesca Jr., Hoppler chief operating officer, said the company has been marketing online in the Asean for some time.

Lamudi, meanwhile, is expected to announce its acquisition of a big real estate portal sometime this May.

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TAGS: online deals, property, real estate industry
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