Philippine real estate marketplace ZipMatch recently announced it received an undisclosed amount of seed funding from a combined group of global and local investors led by IMJ Fenox, followed by 500 Startups, Ideaspace Foundation, and Hatchd Digital.
Launched in April, ZipMatch is different from the typical classified ads-type marketplaces. It’s similar to Zillow in the US, which taps into local real estate problems.
The marketplace helps property buyers choose from a curated selection of properties that can be filtered through different considerations such as location, cost, and property type, thereby lessening time spent searching and finding the right property.
On the sellers’ side, ZipMatch allows real estate developers to create microsites and its brokers to create their own listings. The aim is to protect brokers’ rightful commission from a designated listing. ZipMatch co-founder John Dang says:
We’re focused on creating solutions to help alleviate the problems presented to brokers, buyers and sellers. [In classified ads listings], it’s common to see different listings of exactly the same property put up by multiple brokers, so it’s hard to sort out what really is available. To make matters worse, many of these listings often don’t have photographs, detailed descriptions, and even addresses.
Also, most brokers in the Philippines fear digitizing their listings in fear that other brokers will capitalize on their efforts. It’s not uncommon for brokers and classified websites to scrape other broker’s listings and post it as their own. This problem contributes to ruining the experience for buyer and sellers, as it encourages too many middle-man brokers to get in the middle of the transaction for a piece of the commission.
IMJ Fenox general manager Koichi Saito says they chose to invest in ZipMatch because they’re “unlike traditional classified ad portals,” and they’re coming up with out-of-the-box solutions for local real estate problems.
Customer service-centric platform
As of February, ZipMatch averaged 1,000 buyer and renter inquiries per month. Over 100 microsites for real estate developers have also been built, along with nearly 3,000 approved real estate listings.
In its commitment to provide quality listings, Dang says the team had to “reject about 1,500 listings because they lack sufficient information and quality images.”
The site also offers extended service to potential buyers through information on real estate trends and investment and financial advice. It offers a free professional concierge service, wherein its customer service team will provide buyers with contact info for real estate professionals who qualify their needs.
Currently, the buyer and broker coordinate through one-on-one consultation, where the buyer gets access to a broker’s contact information through its listing. Looking forward, it also plans to automate this process by recommending properties through user behaviors and search patterns.
From bootstrap to profit
According to ZipMatch, it followed a bootstrap business strategy that led it to a financial profit since the start of its operation. Its revenue model is based on customer generation where real estate developers and brokers pay a fee to get a list of customers qualified for their properties.
ZipMatch states it’s now looking to expand its market, and says its investors can help it accomplish this. The team looks to scale and continuously develop its product to drive more users to its real estate platform.
(Editing by Paul Bischoff)