What does "The TikTok of real estate" look like?
Viewit wants to set a new standard in the portal space by harnessing the power and potential of video content to showcase listings in a more authentic and compelling way.
We asked CEO Farhan Junaid ten questions, and he gave us ten answers. From monetization to the post-COVID property search experience, Farhan shares some transparent insights into Dubai's property market and how Viewit intends to take its slice.
Viewit solves the problem of real estate viewings and fake listings by offering an app that allows real estate agents to upload video tours of listings that are also geotagged. This helps customers get a better understanding of the property and confirm that the listing is real and that the agent has in fact visited the property.
During COVID, Dubai was under severe lockdown. I ran a real estate agency with 12 agents and we were unable to go for viewings. We had to figure out a solution whereby we could earn our commissions without in-person viewings.
The easiest method was to send videos of listings over WhatsApp to show what the property looked like because clients were also locked into their homes and couldn’t leave.
To our surprise, clients would book properties sight unseen based on the video. I then decided to build a better distribution system for these video listings and so, Viewit was born.
We charge around $30 per agent per month for unlimited listings. This is less than 20% of the cost of our competitors and allows us to scale faster and quicker, as we are based on a per-seat basis as opposed to the per-listing one that our competitors use.
We are trying to get a slice of the market. Going up against well-capitalized and established incumbents would not be wise given we are a seed-stage startup.
The market in Dubai is quite large, with over 60,000 agents in the city, over a billion dirhams' worth of real estate transactions a day, and the top two portals take up over 90% of traffic with the same products. We feel now is the right time to take a slice of the market with improved innovation, customer service and design.
We currently have 3,500 monthly active users in Dubai and Karachi combined, 2,500+ live listings on viewit.pk and 350+ listings on viewit.ae for a total of 2,800+ listings in two countries.
We are part of the In5 incubator in Dubai and have recently been accepted into the Techstars Chicago 2023 cohort with a seed investment of $120,000.
Our research shows that video listings generate 403% more inquiries than image-based listings, can increase revenues for realtors by 49%, and increase organic search results to listings by a whopping 157%.
When we looked at our competitors' sites, we noticed that less than 10% of listings of their sites were immersive experiences, leaving a gap in the market for us to exploit.
Yes, we have to train agents on how best to shoot videos. We also plan to work with either Kaputrize or Flashy.ae to provide a better experience for customers who can pay.
Our goal at the moment is to increase listings on the site to gain more traffic, more conversions and more leads for agents.
We are working on a couple of things. We are the first portal in Dubai to come up with a virtual real estate agent. We trained chat GPT on eight years of Dubai real estate data and Dubai’s geography so that it can answer any question to do with real estate. For example, you can ask it "What was the most recent transaction in Golden Mile?", and it will reply with the details of the sale, the date and the price—as well as many more pieces of information according to your needs.
Our challenge is to continue to train the AI agent to be as easy to use and friendly as possible, allowing customers to have a well-informed agent to talk to 24/7.
The agents we're speaking to are portal agnostic and do not mind listing with us. However, two issues that crop up are A) getting used to a new workflow (ours is not the conventional XML feed) and, B) the lack of leads. They want us to find a way to increase their leads but keep in mind we are currently free.
We plan to double down on our video and AI niche and market our portal using these key points as leverage, something that other portals do not currently offer.
Good question! We didn’t really know of any until we saw OnlineMarketplaces.com. This site looks like the kind of portal we need to keep watching to see other portals that are attacking similar problems and coming out with unique solutions.
Another good question.
As Dharmesh Shah (founder of HubSpot) recently pointed out on the 20VC podcast, I see markets becoming more efficient.
The way to do this is by improving the efficiency of middlemen. Real estate to many is a black box that needs to be navigated with the help of an agent. I think that this is not the case—in fact, as information becomes more transparent, the initial discovery and negotiating phases can be done with a lot less friction.
We have built tools to help agents and customers learn as much as possible about the property before committing to a viewing or making an offer.
Viewit gives people a much better perspective on listings than the traditional pictures and text on most listings. We're the next logical step in the iteration of PropTech marketing technology. We want to provide buyers and agents with tools that lead to a more efficient sales process and, ultimately, a more efficient market.