So the cat’s out of the bag – GoodPlace will no longer be just a blog. Come June 10th (and commemorating the 100th issue of the GoodPlace Digest), we will be launching the GoodPlace Homes – a property research tool and curated listings database.
We are launching precisely at 9.01am, June 10th, 2015. Here’s a handy timer counting down to blastoff!
Gawd, do we need another property portal, Khai Yin?
Now people tell me that the world doesn’t need yet another property portal, and I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, what’s out there today is probably sufficient for what the typical Malaysian home buyer needs in order to research and shop for properties –
- iProperty and Property Guru collectively already cover 90+% of the sub sale market (my own estimation). If you’re looking for (mass market) listings, then you should go to those sites.
- The Edge has recently launched TheEdgeProperty which aggregates property news as well as transactional data (for both sales and rental).
And as everyone who reads the GoodPlace Digest knows, I’m pretty much obsessed with online property and what’s been ‘missing‘ from the equation. Over the two years that I have started the GoodPlace Blog I am convinced that we need more curation in the system which is already overloaded with listings, agents and data. I’ve already blogged about this last year (click here to read it), but in short,
- We don’t need more listings; we need good listings which are verifiable, accurate and legitimate.
- We don’t need more agents; we need good agents who put the interest of their clients before their commission cheques.
- We don’t need more data; we need good insights from the data that will help home buyers make good purchase decisions.
(Incidentally, this is also why GoodPlace is inherently unfundable – venture capitalists had offered me money to stuff the site with more listings, more data and recruit more agents. Thanks, but no thanks.)
Every week I would receive emails of disgust from home buyers who would turn to me after bouts of hair-pulling frustration doing property (re)search online (like this one below which just incidentally just came in) –
The answer to this conundrum is as obvious as the nose on Barbara Streisand’s face: we need higher quality (listings, data, agents) albeit at a lower volume. I’ve suggested this to one of the leading portals, and when I asked if they would moderate and remove the crap listings, this was the answer that I got: “Kidding, man? This is how we make money!”
…But I Don’t Need To Make Money
Just kidding; of course I do! However, since I don’t have hundreds of staff on my payroll and cut-throat investors to appease, I am free to experiment with new ideas without the pressure of having to generate revenue. After all, GoodPlace is just me and my crummy laptop if you think about it. 🙂
Not needing to make quick money also means that I don’t have to do things that other portals usually do to make money. For example, have to plaster my site with banner ads and Flash popups which are as annoying and distracting as an over-enthusiastic, leg-humping mongrel. And if you’re as old as I am then you’ll remember that pre-Google, Yahoo was the reigning Big Kahuna of Internet search engines. It then did the stupid thing of plastering its homepage with flashy ad banners which saw it getting kicked down the curb by a simpler, ad-free Google.
As I am starting (figuratively speaking) from a blank sheet of paper, I could pretty much design the site as I please. I don’t have to clutter up the site with ads simply because I don’t have to. Also, during my research, most home buyers tell me that they would use the search bar more than anything else, and for this reason GoodPlace Home is designed around search, and search only. Oh, and did I mention that we are free from banner ads?
Only Upmarket Homes? Are You Joking, Khai Yin?
No, not a joke, but hear me out first before you accuse me of selling out the proletariat and pandering to the bourgeoisie. I’m merely adopting a rather conservative strategy to carve out a smaller chunk of the market to dominate before eventually scaling up if it works. This is a well known strategy which has been used even by the likes of Facebook (which started as a social network for Harvard before spreading to other universities, and then to the rest of the world). If you’re into the nitty gritty of this strategy, read this article (which I authored) which was published at eCommerce Milo: How To Solve The Chicken-Or-The-Egg Problem When Building Internet Platforms
Of course, there are new property portals trying to go “big” immediately right off the gate, and if they’re not flushed with venture monies (hello Patrick) or already a major content publisher (say, The Edge) then they’ll probably fizzle out and die a natural death soon enough. Why? Because these new portals really not that different from iProperty as far as the product features go, and iProperty already has the biggest database of listings and agents in the country. How can they compete?
All in all, here’s GoodPlace’s plan (and promise): we’ll focus on the upmarket segment first, and then expand to the “mass” segment when the time comes.
Any questions? Post ’em below and I’ll answer them. 🙂
- NEXT WEEK: Things That GoodPlace Homes Can Do – But Other Property Portals Can’t (Controversial!)