Ten Questions with Ben Huang: Co-Founder of Proppy.com.au

February 15, 2021
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There’s no denying that there is an increasing trend in real estate marketing towards personalization. We spoke to Ben Huang, Co-Founder of Australian PropTech company Proppy to see how their recently launched home discovery tool helps property hunters in Melbourne save a lot of time by finding the right home for them without all the portal searching...

 

What is the problem that Proppy solves?

For most of us, property is the biggest purchase we will ever make. It’s exciting but also exhausting - the average Australian buyer spends 2.5 to 4 hours per week doing online research on real estate. 

For those who’ve just started their journey, they struggle to find suitable areas that balance their budget and lifestyle needs, due to lack of an efficient method to look at the market holistically and receive tailored, fact-based suggestions. This leads to buyers searching in the wrong markets or missing markets that could be a great fit causing disappointment and abandonment. 

For those who have suburbs in mind, the remaining journey is about picking the most suitable property. The current process is again draining, as they have to assess properties one by one - constantly juggling and making trade-offs across competing needs (for our cofounder, this was a spreadsheet where he added the property, researched it, updated the sheet and repeated). This experience is only worsened if their offers and bids are knocked back and the searches lengthened, making it so important to target the right areas from day one. 

  

What is Proppy’s USP?

Proppy.com.au is a property intelligence platform using our in-house algorithms to provide tailored suburb insights and property suggestions best suited to the user’s budget and lifestyle needs. It’s built by buyers, for buyers as an innovative way to discover property, empowering buyers to:

  • Search for properties by criteria that matter to their quality of life
  • Effortlessly research the entire market and get tailored insights on both the affordability and livability of areas
  • Discover hidden gems, as property listings are sorted based on how well they match the user’s preferences

 

What is Proppy’s biggest challenge?

In the property search segment, the first question you’re asked is “where are you looking” (not “what are you looking for”) and people expect to scroll through listings for hours to find the hidden gems. Proppy aims to turn this experience on its head, so our challenge is to get our users to realise that there is a better way and adapt to it. 

 

How does Proppy source its data?

We source our data from leading property market data providers and Open Data datasets published by various government agencies.

 

How has Covid-19 changed the landscape for Proppy?

Victoria went through a tough lockdown period from July to November last year where the volume of new property listings were significantly reduced due to movement restrictions. Fortunately, Proppy was in the product development phase, limiting our exposure to the impact. Since the ease of restrictions in December, more listings have come onto the market. 

Driven by the adoption of working-from-home by corporate employees, more people are looking for larger and cheaper properties further away from the city, in areas they may be less familiar with. We see this as an opportunity. 

 

What is one thing our readers might not know about but would probably find interesting about house hunting in Australian cities?

One of the common ways to buy property in Australia is through on-site auction usually taking place in open space outside the property regardless of rain or shine. The auctioneer will deliver powerful speeches to motivate buyers to bid, attracting bystanders to spectate like a street theatre.

 

Does Proppy work with any property portals?

Yes, Proppy works with Domain.com.au to power our Market Scanner experience, which takes in the latest listings and sorts them based on how well they match the user's lifestyle preferences.

 

What is Proppy currently working on?

We are constantly improving the product to solve more people’s problems with house hunting. It has been reported that the price of houses in popular suburbs of Melbourne are rising sharply, likely due to pent-up demand and lower supply. We are building a new personalised experience called Market Watch which allows users to closely monitor the price movement of areas and property types they are interested in. 

 

What is the most common request from clients?

We are seeing a lot of Victorian families benefit from Proppy, with many users searching for a 3-bedroom house under $1m with access to good public schools, as well as close proximity to public transport and parks.

 

How do you see the market evolving and what will you be doing to be ahead of the curve?

I think the property market in Australia will continue to adjust to the various macro factors triggered by Covid-19 including reduced immigration, the end of “mortgage holidays” and potential ease in home loan lending. We also expect the remote working trend to continue, and we are seeing an increase in the number of users looking to buy in regional Victoria.

As a provider of property intelligence, we will stay ahead by being close to the market data and community feedback to spot signals and improve our product to continuously deliver relevant and up-to-date insights to help our users with their property journey.

February 15, 2021
Edmund got to know the world of portals and marketplaces working at Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect after the buyout in 2018). He worked directly with hundreds of portals across the world in his role in the content department for three and a half years before transferring to the SEO department to understand the inner workings of listings sites. He joined Online Marketplaces as Head of Content in March 2020.

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