Houser.co.uk will be taking its first baby step on January 12, 2015, and just like any other newborn, it will learn to crawl, walk and then run; but Houser is trained from day one to lead.
Everything we are working towards is aimed to evoke “wow” and “How did you do that” responses. As you read further, you will agree that Houser means business, but most importantly, as you start using it – we want you to be amazed.
Houser is packing a lot of treats and intuitive features, the likes of which you won’t find everywhere. There is an interesting story behind the idea but the final offering was built around solid questions like:
Which group is most suitable for controlling the property industry’s growth? The estate agents, the property portals or the consumers?
How will people consume real estate related information in the future?
What is the best business model that can be adopted by the estate agents and provides value to the consumers?
Can a freemium model work for real estate?
After considerable research and brainstorming we came to the following conclusion:
Charging estate agents to list their properties is a broken business model and is not in the best interest of the consumers.
Hence, we decided to make Houser free, even though we knew from the outset that it didn’t have to be so. Most big agents can afford paying for subscriptions, but we didn’t want to isolate the smaller businesses.
Moreover, if you look around, free and freemium models have created giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many others. If these models work in those industries, why can’t they work in Real Estate?
We believe in the end what matters most is the value being provided, and everyone in the equation (professionals and consumers) looks at their own best interests.
Our Goal was to:
Create the largest repository of “for Sale” and “to Rent” listings so consumers can come to one place to find whatever they are looking for.
Making it free would:
Reduce the friction and provides the consumers with larger inventory.
We also knew:
Just making it free will not cut it. If only a handful of agents take advantage of free listings, our goal of creating the largest repository will not be achieved any time soon.
Free or paid, the key is:
To provide as much value as possible to estate agents and the (liquidity is important).
Chicken or the egg:
Consumers will only come if they can find the results and agents will come if consumers are already there.
To solve this problem, we took one page each out of WhatsApp and Google’s playbooks.
Google has the largest repository of results today because they didn’t wait for people to add their websites. Their crawler simply explores the web and their technology makes it easy for consumers to find what they are looking for. Everyone wins - the consumers find better results and the businesses get free traffic.
We decided to do the same and crawl the entire property related inventory and make it available to consumers but with an additional tools and higher ranking for those who join. Making it free was a step towards this and we know as long as we are able to pull traffic, all parties will win – estate agents will get qualified traffic and the end users will find what they are looking for.
We started a three-way drive at the same time: Develop – Market – Learn.
We then created a loop - as the development started, we went out and talked to estate agents and brought back the knowledge to improve development further. At first we started speaking to the smallest of agents on purpose. Although neglected, the smallest collectively are the biggest in the country. Their main concern is to get as much exposure as possible for their clients and they don’t care where that exposure comes from, as long as the client gets value.
We had already labeled Houser as “the one you didn’t see coming” and by this point we had reached out to thousands of estate agents and they loved our free concept. We believe 60% of any marketing is the product. If the product is solid, the users will use it and if the product provides value, users will spread it.
What’s the catch?
Estate agents are so frequently approached by property portals for subscriptions that when they heard we were not going to charge them for listings, most asked “what’s the catch?”
To take it home we decided to guarantee free listings for the next five years. Once people are satisfied with this, the next two questions are:
How will you make money?
How will you grow?
Answers to these are provided below.
Most agents “Want an alternative” but aren’t “Looking for one”.
While talking to estate agents, we came to the following conclusion:
Most estate agents want an alternative but the reality is, they are not looking for one. The smallest agents wanted it the most but feel like they can’t do much as a single branch.
Since they are not looking for it, the alternative must find them.
How do you accomplish that?
Once again, we go back to Google’s example. While it is true that Google was spreading through word of mouth early on, we can’t ignore the fact that a lot of webmasters learnt the value of being on Google after they viewed their own website’s traffic stats.
Similarly, all Houser has to do is send good traffic to estate agents and its value will become apparent.
How to make Houser grow fast?
To answer this question we decided to analyse WhatsApp.
The company has spent absolutely nothing on advertising or customer acquisition. The founders instead chose to focus on building a useful product.
A lot of people think it was free messages that made WhatsApp what they are today; but Blackberry had free messages and so did Apple besides a host of other apps.
What was the secret?
From the outset, WhatsApp was not designed with just smartphone users in mind. They worked hard to ensure that WhatsApp worked for as many people as possible, which meant making the app work across platforms and available on a wide range of devices - even very old, so-called “dumb” ones - and operating systems.
It was a tough call but mass reach, mass audience and mass utility were the factors that eventually paid off for them.
Houser’s cross-platform on-demand solution
We have been working hard to do for real estate what WhatsApp has done for messaging. We feel in the future people will not consume real estate information from a limited set of mediums or channels.
The future, in our view, will be about on-demand real estate consumption - when you want it, where you want it. Which is why if you are on Facebook, we will provide what you need on-demand in Facebook. If you are on Twitter, you will get all the info you need there. If you spend your time on YouTube, you will find us there too, and we will be accessible to you regardless of whether you use desktop machines or handheld devices.
The next generation of social marketing
Current social marketing has visible constrains but still provides results. People spend billions on it and you can’t go a day without seeing sharing buttons from various networks.
The cycle goes something like this:
You read something you like and feel excited enough to share it. A small percentage of your friends see what you shared and an even smaller percentage actually like it enough to read it. If what they read resonates with them, they might then visit that site again in the future too.
This is the entire essence of social marketing.
The reason why results in this are limited is the need for perfect timing. If what you share does not reach the intended target audience on time, consumption will be poor.
This is why Houser has decided to disrupt the real estate industry by providing on-demand information; as, when and wherever you want it. As we reveal more on how it will be done, we are sure you will say “wow - this makes so much more sense”.
Viral vs Paid Ads
Viral vs paid advertisements is actually the main difference between disruption and old money. In this case old money refers to established businesses or businesses which think they can pay their way to success through advertising.
Disruption on the other hand grows organically and at a speed no amount of money can stop. The essence of going viral is to stand-out and give something that not only provides value but gets people to tell others.
At Houser we choose to use value as the basis for viral growth. Besides a host of other ideas, we are bringing forward two apps – one for the real estate professional and the other for the consumer.
The Professional App is going to allow:
Every house that goes on the market needs a floor plan. Our app is going to be able to help you generate professional floor plans in real time without any technical knowledge whatsoever.
The Consumer App will:
Spread like wildfire and reach masses in a way unheard of in the industry. We guarantee that teenagers and adults alike will love it, use it and spread it.
“This will work 1000%,” was the response from an estate agent who first heard of our app’s concept.
“Wow, how will you do that?” asked another.
We are excited to be launching Houser as an addition to the current players in the market. Agents who are on the forefront or who have analytics setup for their websites will easily and quickly be able to see the amount and kind of traffic Houser.co.uk will be sending their way.
Those who don’t have analytics will be provided ongoing performance reports on the increase of their reach because of Houser. Consumers will be able to have real estate information on-demand regardless of where they are spending time on the internet.
To read about some of our tools and offerings please click here.
How would Houser make money?...coming soon.
Join Houser.co.uk today and take advantage of cutting-edge features, unmatched customer support and a real estate search engine like no other.