Proptech Panel: Buying a Home – How is proptech making it easier to buy a home

There’s a lot of work involved in buying a home!

Once you have made the decision to buy, the first step is to search for the right property. Next, you need to inspect it, sort your finances, make an offer … and all the rest!

But, what if your dream home is not on the market? How can you use social media to be a more active and educated buyer? What do you need to know about the property before you bid?

On this month’s The Proptech Panel, we talk with three proptech professionals who are using technology to make the search and inspection process easier.

Our expert guests this month are:

  • Mark Allen – Founder & CEO, Patch
  • Babette Coutanche – Chief Customer Officer, Properti
  • Rhys Rogers – CEO, Before You Bid

Kylie Dillon:

Good afternoon. Hello, my name is Kylie Dillon, member of the board of the Proptech Association of Australia, and I lead the Western Australian chapter. It’s great to have you all here for our monthly Proptech Panel discussion. Before I begin, in the spirit of reconciliation, Proptech Association Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, and community. We pay our respect to their elders, past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples joining us today.

Kylie Dillon:

I’d especially like to thank our founding sponsors, Stone and Chalk who have made this event possible. And for those of you who don’t know Stone and Chalk, it was founded as a not-for-profit in Sydney in 2015 to help FinTech startups commercialise and grow. From 40 startups in 2015, it now has around 200 startups in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, covering all areas of emerging technology, including proptech. Today, approximately 20 projects call Stone and Chalk home. I’d also like to thank our other foundation sponsors, Ashhurst Lawyers, Macquarie Bank, the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia, Pexa, and Webbit. Now without further ado, let’s get into today’s panel. I will now hand you over to Jennifer Harrison, the vice president of the Proptech Association, to conduct the discussion. Over to you, Jen.

Jennifer Harrison:

Thank you so much, Kylie. Hello, and welcome to the Proptech Panel. This month, we are looking at how proptech is making it easier to buy a home. There’s a lot of work involved in buying a home, and buyers have to walk a fine line, balancing on the one side the availability and affordability of properties against on the other side the suitability and desirability of those properties. More than anything else, this buyer’s process costs a lot of time. And at the end of the process, you might be disappointed. You might end up walking away not being the owner of your dream home. So the question becomes how can proptech help? Today I’m pleased to be joined by three expert guests, and we’re going to be talking about how proptech is making it easier to buy a home. So let’s meet the guests. First of all, we have Mark Allen, who is the co-founder and CEO of Patch. Good day, Mark. How are you?

Mark Allen:

I’m good, thank you. Thanks for inviting me. Glad to be here.

Jennifer Harrison:

Thanks for joining us on the panel today. Where are you joining us?

Mark Allen:

We are headquartered in Brisbane in Queensland, so nice and sunny up here and free to move about, which hopefully everyone else will be very soon.

Jennifer Harrison:

Hopefully very soon. Correct. Second to join us today on the panel is Babette Coutanche, who is a co-founder and chief customer officer of Properti. Hello, Babette. How are you today?

Babette Coutanche:

Good. Thanks, Jennifer. How are you?

Jennifer Harrison:

I’m doing very well down here in Sydney, even though we’re still in lockdown, looking forward to being out of lockdown soon. Thanks for joining us on the panel today. Where are you joining us from?

Babette Coutanche:

Brisbane. Thank you for having me on the panel today.

Jennifer Harrison:

We’re pleased to have you on. And the third guest today is Rhys Rogers. Good day, Rhys, how you doing?

Rhys Rogers:

You can tell, Jennifer, the two people with haircuts on this panel discussion. I’m joining you from Sydney, but good day. How’s it going?

Jennifer Harrison:

I’m very well. Thanks for joining us. Let’s start with you, Mike, please. Can you tell us really simply what is Patch? Give us your elevator pitch.

Mark Allen:

Yeah, sure. So Patch is a platform that lets buyers place offers on any home, even if it doesn’t have the for sale sign up front. We directly connect buyers and sellers so that they can then chat and negotiate and process the sale through the platform. So what we’re really doing is we’re providing access for buyers to more homes because we know that’s a real problem, especially at the moment. But generally only 5% of homes are listed for sale, so what we’re doing is we’re opening up the market for more off market private sale and open the offers home, so that you’re more likely to find your dream home.

Jennifer Harrison:

I love that, because it is an extremely competitive market on the buy side. So can we explore that a little bit more, and can you tell us a little bit about your own inspiration for founding Patch? Let’s understand a little bit more about the problem and how you’re using technology to solve it.

Mark Allen:

Yeah, sure. Look, it really came out of a problem that I did face myself. My background is real estate and property marketing, so I come from real estate property family. I’ve grown up working in real estate, various real estate and property jobs, and then went through and did a lot of project marketing for large scale property developers. And when I faced this problem, tried to buy a house, and there were only a couple of homes in the suburb that I wanted to buy in, and I thought, “This is crazy. There’s at least a dozen homes here that match what we’re looking for. If only we could contact the homeowner ourselves.”

Mark Allen:

And that’s just the old note in the letterbox, which people have been doing for years and more and more people are doing at the moment, because it’s just such a crazy market. But I thought there’s a technology solution to this. There’s a way that we can digitise putting that note in the letterbox and make it scalable so everyone can use it. So that’s what we really did. We took that simple solution to that big problem, and we applied a technology solution to it to make sure that everyone could find their dream home.

Jennifer Harrison:

Lovely. So tell us a little bit more about the platform, the Patch platform. How can buyers and also homeowners benefit from it and use it?

Mark Allen:

So the way that it works is we index every single house from day one. So when you get on there, you will see your house is on there, everyone’s house is on there, you can take a look at it. So buyers can type in their search criteria and they’re not limited to just the homes that are for sale. And we have a number of outreach programmes that we use to get in contact with the homeowner and let them know that, “Hey, someone is interested in your property and you can connect directly with them if you like.” But on the other side of that, because it is a double-sided marketplace, we allow homeowners to find their home and then they can claim that listing themselves so that they can take control of that, and they can start to field those inquiries, really test the market without listing, and they can then figure out when’s the best time to sell and exactly how much for, because they’re talking to real people in the market and they’re getting real data so that they can make an informed decision.

Jennifer Harrison:

I think that’s a key point. I understand what you’re saying about the old note in the letter box. Very occasionally where I live, we might get a note in the letter box, and you can never really know if it’s genuine and if they’re serious.

Mark Allen:

Yeah, that’s right. Everyone’s had the notes in the letter boxes, and one of the things that we tested before we launched is we did a whole bunch of user surveys, and we said, “If you got a notification saying that someone’s put an offer on your home, or they put an inquiry on your home or they’re interested in it, would you actually reply to it?” And what we found is that the majority of people responded by saying, “If it was a legitimate inquiry, yes. But if it was just a marketing ploy to get a listing or whatnot, then no,” and people aren’t silly. We know marketing when we see it. So the fact that this is genuine, this is real, and you’re talking to a real person that’s put this inquiry in, it just makes it a lot more-

Jennifer Harrison:

One of the things I’m curious to understand is whether you’ve discovered that there are maybe some side benefits or adjacent advantages of the platform, because I know we spoke about an example I shared of a couple of years ago, one of my neighbours did a substantial amount of renovation work before selling their home. And the buyers simply knocked it all down. So from the environment’s perspective, and I suspect from a cost perspective, all of that renovation work was a waste. I suspect the buyers would have paid the price they paid anyway, since they didn’t value any of that renovation work, because they just knocked it down.

Mark Allen:

Yeah, and we’ve seen those examples that have come through a few times. A lot of the time, when you’re walking around the suburb that you really love, and you’re pointing out these homes that you want to maybe put an inquiry on or chat to the owner, you love it as is. Of course there’s situations where doing renovations will bring you higher price in the market, but a lot of the time there’s associated costs with that around listing as well, so there isn’t really a net benefit in some circumstances.

Mark Allen:

There are some interesting things that have come out of Patch and we’ve been able to bring homes to market that weren’t going to market. We connected a buyer with a homeowner a couple of weeks ago now and we spoke to the homeowner and he said, “Oh no, I’m not interested. I’m going to renovate this house.” And we said, “That’s fine.” And then we got a call a week later and the gentleman said, “Actually, renovation is really expensive. I’m open to selling it.” And we actually connected them, and that became a listing that we brought to market that wouldn’t have come to market otherwise. So there’s some great opportunities that do come out of using Patch.

Jennifer Harrison:

Fantastic. How are you going to market? How are you getting eyeballs on the platform?

Mark Allen:

We’re using a lot of… My background is digital marketing. It’s our strength. We’ve found a really amazing cost to acquire customers. It’s about $9 at the moment, which is really low in the market, and the reason that we find that is just because we’re new, and also because we are bringing something to market that is so unique, and we have a vitality coefficient where every home buyer that we bring onto the platform, they place multiple offers on homes, and they actually are responsible for bringing more people onto the platform for us. So we’re able to grow in that way, which is really useful.

Jennifer Harrison:

And what kind of positive feedback?

Mark Allen:

Because it is such a new platform and it is a new way to connect… Well, it’s applying technology to an old way to connect. People are pleasantly surprised. Every day when I log into the CRM and I can see the progression of conversations into inspections, then it’s negotiations, all organically. It’s really great. And people are really… They respond really well to the direct method where there isn’t an intermediary, but that said, we are also agents’ best friends, because we get some homeowners who aren’t thinking of selling and we’re able to then connect them with a real estate agent if they’re feeling a bit nervous about doing it themselves. We’re finding that it’s a benefit on a lot of the sites that we’re operating in.

Jennifer Harrison:

And on the other hand, are you meeting any objections or is there any kind of regard action from real estate agents against-

Mark Allen:

People will always be afraid of new things, and especially in the real estate industry, there is the fear that someone is coming for your job. We’re definitely not. If anything, where we’re bringing to market homes that fall outside that standard 5% that are listed every year. What we’re doing is we’re able to transact with the people who want to transact independently, and we’re also able to provide agents with leads for homeowners who are getting lots of inquiries on their home and they’re feeling a bit nervous about doing themselves. We haven’t had any direct negative feedback at the moment. Fingers crossed. That may change, we’ll see. Not sure

Jennifer Harrison:

Is digital literacy a problem? For example, a lot of property in Australia is owned by Baby Boomers and older people, and they’re some of the most likely people to be putting a stock onto the market.

Mark Allen:

Yeah. Look, what we find is generally, if… It’s not really an age group, it’s how comfortable you are. So yeah, there is a digital literacy aspect to it, but in our society, people are really used to using Airbnb instead of calling up a hotel to make a booking, call an Uber on their phone instead of a taxi, and do stock trading on their iPad instead of through a broker. So where we’re breaking down these barriers and introducing technology to reduce friction in a lot of the things that we do. And these things are used by that generation a lot. So generally, yes, if someone is completely digitally illiterate and they still call a taxi on their rotary phone, then we probably won’t have a great solution for them, but more and more people are demanding solutions like this, and we’re seeing it in everyday aspects of our life. It’s just a natural progression that this will come through into real estate and property.

Jennifer Harrison:

And we’ve had a question come through on the Q&A as to what is the process for a homeowner to claim their home on the platform?

Mark Allen:

Excellent question. Go to getpatch.com.au, G-E-T-P-A-T-C-H, getpatch.com.au and then search for your home. It’s already on there and there’s already photos and listings and how many beds and baths and all of that’s there. And you just simply click claim, and as long as your name is on the title, you can get assigned to that home and you can start to receive inquiries on that home and talk directly with homeowners. So it’s super simple, it doesn’t cost you a thing. Totally free.

Jennifer Harrison:

And does this also work for landlords who have investment properties who might be interested to see if there’s anyone who’d like to buy their investment property?

Mark Allen:

Yeah, absolutely. So at the moment you can only claim one home, but next year we’re launching the seller assist programme where you can get access to a lot more features. You can claim multiple homes, again, as long as you’re on the title, and you can get access to a lot of statistics so you can see how many people are viewing, searching for your home and homes like yours, and you can do reverse inquiries, so you can actually say, “I’m interested to see how many people would be interested in my home, but I don’t want to list it for sale,” so you can hit reverse inquiry. It will send it to everyone who’s looking for homes like yours, and you can get an idea of how much they’d be willing to pay for it, and if it’s the right price, you can list it. If not, you can just sit on it until it hits the point that you like.

Jennifer Harrison:

And last question for you Mark, before I move to Babette. Where did the name come from?

Mark Allen:

Ah, Patch, yeah. We didn’t want to call ourselves a traditional real estate… Something with real in it or something like that. What we did is we just thought this is your patch, or you look for your patch, it’s your home patch, you want to get your patch. It was just a silly, funny name that we thought worked for both buyers and sellers.

Jennifer Harrison:

Lovely. Thanks very much, Mark.

Mark Allen:

Thank you.

Kylie Dillon:

Babette, can you give us Properti’s elevator pitch please?

Babette Coutanche:

Yes. So we are the social media platform for real estate that helps agents grow their business.

Jennifer Harrison:

Perfect. So what is the problem that agents have in growing their business?

Babette Coutanche:

With our platform, it’s in two parts. So one, we are simplifying the use of social media by providing a simple to use integrated and automated platform to all social media channels, and to provide a lower cost alternative to the major portals for advertising, attracting property listings.

Jennifer Harrison:

Wonderful. In terms of benefits to agents and also to home buyers, could you explain to us a little bit more what the benefits of advertising property through social media are?

Babette Coutanche:

Yeah, so for buyers, they’re getting access to coming soon campaigns and pre-market campaigns and discovering properties that they never thought they could find by them just popping up in their newsfeed. So our agents are therefore experiencing, if they’re embracing the power of social, they are keeping their brand out for longer due to our short listing campaign cycle at the moment. It’s absolutely working for them and making them stand out as an agent. Properties are selling on social when they have failed to sell by traditional means. I’ve got a close friend of mine as a case study. A property on the Gold Coast. Gold Coast is really selling there at the moment, but two agencies couldn’t sell this property. Third ran a social only campaign and sold it within days at a block record. So it’s really changing the game and you’ve got this ability to target people inter-state through the audiences and Facebook’s power.

Jennifer Harrison:

Okay. Thank you. Can you tell us a little bit more about the technology that you’re using and how does it integrate with the real estate agent’s CRM, for example.

Babette Coutanche:

Yes. We use tech in three ways. So the integration piece, talking about integrating with the CRM so we can connect to important systems, being the CRM. Then we’re able to automate. So once we have connected the CRM, we add automation, which allows the technology to do the heavy lifting. All the repetitive tasks, not replacing jobs, but bringing in efficiencies and getting time back, allowing freedom to truly do the creative marketing work that we know our marketing guys love to do. And then bringing intelligence. So once you’ve integrated and automated the system, we then endeavour to make it more intelligent, which some people refer to as AI. AI means different things to different people. In our case, it needs to build on the first two and provide a genuine benefit, not tick the latest tech fad.

Jennifer Harrison:

If I’m a buyer, and if I understand, if I can get access to what you said, the coming soon, is there anything in particular I should be doing on Facebook to make sure that those ads are, or posts are coming into my feed?

Babette Coutanche:

So it’s based off of your activity. So if you are looking at property through social media, so you’re starting to look at property on the Gold Coast, for example, doing that activity allows Facebook to pick up on that behaviour. So therefore you’re going to get fed more of that from agents. Following the organic side as well, and because our platform doesn’t just do paid campaign advertising, it also does the organic posting. So following those agents as well, that maybe in the core areas, you might’ve seen them in their ads pop up, follow them as well. That would be my advice there.

Jennifer Harrison:

Excellent. Thank you. How are you going to market?

Babette Coutanche:

So along with our digital funnels and our sales outreach programme, we’re really driving our four channels, which are independent real estate agencies, franchise agencies, our consultants who consult into business owners and our referrers.

Jennifer Harrison:

And what positive feedback are you getting?

Babette Coutanche:

Oh, great. Because I deal directly with all of our customers, I get the joy of being able to hear all the great positive feedback that we do get from our customers. So it’s our office champions who I normally deal with, to be able to train up the people in the business running the platform. So normally our admin and marketing teams absolutely love it because it makes their life so much easier. More streamlined, takes away a lot of their pain when it comes to jumping in and out of multiple team member social accounts, controlling ad accounts, getting through the minefield of Facebook’s backend. They don’t have to do that anymore. And it takes all the heavy lifting away from generating creative. So our business owners love it because their content is going out, and it’s consistently on brand. Often hear, “It’s just saving me so much time. I’m not having to refund vendor paid advertising because our campaign didn’t make it into social. There’s not as much errors because of the CRM feed.” Just things like that. So it’s been a real joy, actually, to make that change in the businesses.

Jennifer Harrison:

Can you tell us a little bit more about the inspiration to found Properti?

Babette Coutanche:

Yeah, just to bring it back to our original co-founders where Craig Davison and Aaron Hayes. So they’re our tech and startup gurus. So the inspiration, I say, will go to Craig, is that… Oh, sorry… Interested in disrupting real estate for some time. So real estate marketing in Australia has one player and it takes majority of the advertising revenue, so that’s REA, which is going to be difficult to sustain in the future. So that was offering a great opportunity for Properti.

Jennifer Harrison:

Do you think real estate agents have discovered any kind of extra benefits, having seen how easy it is to work with Properti? Do you think maybe this is opening up something bigger than originally you might’ve planned for? A slightly different way of asking is where do you think Properti is going next? What’s on your product roadmap?

Babette Coutanche:

I do believe that a lot of this is based on education. A lot of business owners, real estate agents aren’t aware of the power of social media and what it can actually do to shift their business into another gear. So we’re bringing, I suppose, that knowledge into the space as well, because it’s something that they know they’ve got to do, they’re scared of it, there’s that fear, and what do I do next and how do I do it? So in regards to our roadmap, what’s coming. Mobile app. I love mobile. Agents love mobile over a computer any day. And then we’ve got more AI generated content coming, such as being able to auto generate ad copy, descriptions, and headlines, et cetera. Because the feed that comes in from the CRM is for REA, and they’re quite long descriptions and they don’t generally work so well on social. So being able to shorten that and making it more social friendly.

Jennifer Harrison:

And final question for you. What made you want to come into work in a proptech startup?

Babette Coutanche:

Yep. So I joined the team with 20 years of experience in real estate, the past eight of that being a business coaching consultant and performance management roles in three major franchises across the east coast of Australia. So it was my opportunity to be able to work with a company who could deliver on technology and could make a difference in the industry, because I absolutely loved change and growth. What I could achieve in 20 years in real estate, I believe I can achieve here in two years in the proptech space, in regards to impacting industry towards the much needed change that has to happen. And my personal passion is to help and empower real estate industry to move forward, embrace change, and discover better, more efficient ways of doing things. I believe this is done through guidance support and the removal of fear of change. So whatever I can do to do that and help, that’s what drives me.

Jennifer Harrison:

Thanks Babette. One of the things we’re also trying to do here at the Proptech Association Australia is help real estate agents understand that technology isn’t quite so big and hairy and scary as possibly they might fear it is. So thanks very much for sharing all that with us, Babette.

Babette Coutanche:

Thank you.

Jennifer Harrison:

Rhys, let’s come to you now. Can you give us the Before You Bid elevator pitch, please.

Rhys Rogers:

So our aim is to make building and pest inspections and strata reports as accessible as possible to everyone buying and selling property in Australia.

Jennifer Harrison:

Perfect. So can you tell us more about how people would have to do it if your platform didn’t exist? Talk us through some of the frictions and the process doing it old school.

Rhys Rogers:

Yeah. Previously you can spend $500, $600 every single time you bought a building in pest inspection, maybe miss out on one, two, three properties and you’re up at $1,800, which obviously isn’t a great customer experience for people. Some people then go the other route just don’t get one and then run that chance of buying a lemon, which obviously no one wants to do, but they are out there. So we’ve got to move that way on the consumer side with this shared costs cash back model, if it’s driven from just buyers, and from an agent side, where they can chip in a bit of money through them on the vendor and have it available at a cheaper rate for buyers, that they’re still putting some money down, but not quite the five, 600 bucks.

Jennifer Harrison:

Yeah. So tell us a little more please about the tech element… Babette, we’re getting a tiny bit of feedback from Rhys. I think you might need to go onto mute, if that’s possible, please. Thank you, Babette. Rhys, tell us a little bit more about the tech element of-

Rhys Rogers:

I think I’ve said before this call, I’m the worst technical founder of all time, but we do use a machine learning model to better price our reports. That’s probably the most interesting tech that we use. And we can predict pretty well how many times the report’s going to be downloaded so we can more aggressively price the reports so it can be as cheap as possible, basically, for buyers and sellers. Now our aim is to have a report on every property in Australia, so this model and what we’re doing around that allows us to price accordingly with different inspectors on our panel.

Jennifer Harrison:

Can you tell us a little bit more about the original start of the business and how you’ve grown and what’s your national footprint look like now?

Rhys Rogers:

Yeah, so it started quite… It seems a bit cliche, but it was in my parents’ garage, but that actually did happen as a 30 year old. I was killing it. And yeah, we’ve grown over the last six years to the point now we’re a national business. We brought on a ex-domain director who is our chief revenue officer and he’s launched our national team and got to the point last year where we sold 55,000 report and probably 30,000 or so of them are people that missed out on properties, who obviously had a much, much better experience than committing a lot of money to it.

Jennifer Harrison:

Does that 30,000 out of 55,000 didn’t get their dream home?

Rhys Rogers:

Yeah, about that. I’d have to run the numbers. But yeah, it would be about that. Somewhere around that.

Jennifer Harrison:

It’s an interesting little sliver of data as to exactly how competitive and how difficult it is to buy a home in Australia.

Rhys Rogers:

Yeah. And even the download numbers, we track them and they’ve gone up a huge.it’s Has gone up from an average of about 2.5 to and average of about 3.3, which doesn’t sound probably that crazy, if you think about it, it’s just an extra report, but as a percentage, that’s a huge amount of interest. And it’s so competitive out there for buyers. We had our record the other day where a report was downloaded 100 times, so you can imagine that was a pretty successful auction.

Jennifer Harrison:

Absolutely. And I think a question I’ve been asking, have you discovered anything extra in the business? Any interesting adjacencies? It sounds like data might be one for Before You Bid.

Rhys Rogers:

Yeah. We’re tied a little bit with the data because we are… A lot about referrals do come from agents, and agents are incredibly funny about their data, but we have to just position it all towards them. But we have launched a product about 12 months ago called [inaudible 00:26:06] , which isn’t the most original name of all time, but it’s basically a [inaudible 00:26:11] questionnaire for agents, which it gets a bit of extra data, including who downloads the report back into the CRM and that’s going really well. So a great efficiency piece for agents, as well as a much better experience for buyers going through open homes where they can just tick off what they want, get the information they need, and either bid on the property or show more interest or move on.

Jennifer Harrison:

So is your go-to market strategy to work with agents?

Rhys Rogers:

Yeah, definitely. So six years ago we launched. We’re definitely very much focused on the real estate agent. Probably 90% of our orders last year were driven by the real estate agent. That’s starting to skew a bit the other way. Now we’ve got integrations with CVI and [inaudible 00:26:51] InfoTrack, we just launched the other day, hopefully got our trial domain at the moment. Hopefully that’ll get into a national rollout. So we’re skewing away so much from the agent, still definitely will have that as a core focus of the business. But yeah, we’ll think it’ll probably even up a bit on the consumer and the agent side.

Jennifer Harrison:

Interesting. What kind of positive feedback are you getting from buyers and-

Rhys Rogers:

The positive feedback, agents all the time call us to say, “I had someone walking past on auction and going, ‘Sorry, I can’t attend because I haven’t been able to get my building tests. I haven’t been able to get my strata.'” You can literally click this button and download it. And then they ended up being the successful bidder or the underbidder pushing it up by a 100, 150 grand. That happens almost weekly, something like that, which you wouldn’t believe would happen that often, but it does. Or people the night before, whatever it is. And then I like to think that the 30,000 people who have missed out on the property have some love towards us, but you probably don’t hear about that as much because they’re not too happy that they’ve missed out, but certainly they’re saving a lot of money there, which is our aim.

Jennifer Harrison:

And have you come across any objections or also any requests for customization, for example?

Rhys Rogers:

Yeah, the biggest probably negative we get is just when people don’t understand what a building and pest inspection report is, and they’re expecting the plumbing… They get into the house and the plumbing’s busted or something. It’s not really individual building and pest inspection reports. So you’ve got work we’re doing there is a bit of an education piece. Is this included in these things? There’s definitely work for us to do on that front just to make it more and more transparent, which is our aim.

Jennifer Harrison:

Can you tell us a little bit more about the inspiration to found Before You Bid, and who was there with you at the beginning-

Rhys Rogers:

The inspiration, I’d say, my family, probably… There’s quite a few entrepreneurs in our family. My sister, my brother, my dad. So if I didn’t do anything that would have been like, “What are you doing?” So that was probably the drive behind it. And then it was a real estate agent complaining about opening a property twice for a building and pest inspection, and that was just a bit of a light bulb moment. One of my other brothers and said, “Why don’t we have a look in about this?” And he joined the business 18 months ago. He couldn’t go with the no wage for four years, because he’s got three kids and a mortgage, but he’s jumped on board now, which is great.

Rhys Rogers:

The text messaging service, we’ve got a lot of cool UX and UI changes we’re doing on that front. People laugh that we’ve got 13 engineers focused on building and pest and strata reports, but there’s just so much in terms of compliance and streamlining it and getting inspectors on and insurances and everything around, to deliver that in a really seamless way, we’ve still got a bit of work to do there. More on the building, pest, and strata side, a lot on the assist and text messaging side, and then hopefully few little surprises that come up next year.

Jennifer Harrison:

Wonderful. Thanks so much Rhys. We look forward to those surprises. I should say to anyone who is joining us live, if you do have a question for any of the panel, please do use the Q&A facility. I might just come back to you now, Mark, and ask a little bit about fund. How have you funded Patch?

Mark Allen:

So we bootstrapped it initially when we did the initial MVP into market. We just had one single suburb and tested. That was fun. We then did a family and friends round before we received the venture capital funding, so we got Antler VC, which is a worldwide venture firm. So that really helped us to expand into Queensland, and we’re looking at closing our seed round at the moment, which will help us to expand nationwide and build out the seller side as well.

Jennifer Harrison:

How exciting. And did you go through the Antler programme?

Mark Allen:

Yeah, we did, which was really great. So they took us from MVP into open beta and we’re now transitioning from open beta into our commercialised products. So yeah, they really helped us to develop the idea into a product in market.

Jennifer Harrison:

Where can people go to find out more about Patch or to connect with you and contact you?

Mark Allen:

So if you just go to getpatch.com.au, you can find out more about the product there. There’s a how it works page there that explains it all. If you’ve got any questions, you can send me an email. You can send it to hello@getpatch.com.au. That’ll find its way to me as well. Yeah, happy to answer any questions that anyone has about them, any questions on how to claim their home or place inquiries or how it works or what’s next. Absolutely open to chatting.

Jennifer Harrison:

Fantastic. And is there anything about Patch that we haven’t spoken about that you’d like people to know?

Mark Allen:

No, I think we’ve covered… We’ve got our buyer assist product in market at the moment, which has been really successful. We’re helping the buyers to connect with more claimed homes and off-market homes in the market. Yeah, that’s probably the only thing that we didn’t touch on, but yeah, I think we spoke about most of it.

Jennifer Harrison:

Okay, perfect. Babette, can you tell us a little bit more about Properti and how you funded the business to-

Babette Coutanche:

Properti has been largely bootstrapped to date.

Jennifer Harrison:

Okay. And we do have a question that has come in on the Q&A, which is, should the portals be worried about the increased uptake of Facebook by agents?

Babette Coutanche:

Yes. I believe that they’ve got a very big piece of the market, but I feel that social media is definitely going to be able to chip away at that and bring that market share down.

Rhys Rogers:

You’re already seeing the off-market listing now quite a lot. I think with what Mark’s seeing at Patch, what Babette’s doing. Yeah, there’s a few options out there that se that the portals increasing their rates every year, which you can understand from their end, people are going to continue to look for the ways to not have to pay that fee and get their property sold.

Jennifer Harrison:

There certainly quite a good number of our members at the Proptech Association in Australia are challenges to those big incumbent portals. In fact, we think we might even do a panel just on that topic on a future date. So Babette, where can people go to find out more about Properti and to connect with you?

Babette Coutanche:

Yeah, so I mean social media, so we are Facebook… You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and my email address is babette@properti. So it’s Properti with an I dot ai, and then our website, which is properti.ai.

Jennifer Harrison:

Excellent. And is there anything about Properti that we haven’t already discussed that you’d like people to know?

Babette Coutanche:

No, I think we’ve covered mostly everything.

Jennifer Harrison:

Okay. We’ll leave it there. Thanks Babette. And Rhys, there is a question that has come through on the Q&A, which is if many buyers buy the same report, do they get a refund? What’s the pricing logic?

Rhys Rogers:

So we’ve got a couple of different ways. So some of the consumer side, so let’s say I’m just interested in 1 Smith Street. I can go and punched in to beforeyoubid.com, buy that report for, let’s say this inspector cost $499. There’d be a link generated, which is provided to the agent to provide to other interested buyers. Jennifer, you come along, you’re interested in that property as well. You’d pay about $259. The second you pay that on, I’d be owed 240 cash backs. I paying 259, if Babette came along, she’d be paying 189, then we all pay 189. Mark came along and paid 149, we’ll all pay 149. So that’s on the consumer side.

Rhys Rogers:

And on the agent side, I’m not sure if it’s coming through from an agent or not. On the agent, so we’ve got a bunch of different models, but generally, if it’s a paid product, we sometimes do have ones where that one where it’s downloaded a hundred times, so it was a free model where the vendor had just paid for the whole report in full, we had paid models, which you’ve got up to 30 something downloads and people go, “Oh, you’re making so much money, but we actually use the model to price it. There are going to be ones where we have ridiculously high numbers of downloads and that property is great, but there’s other where we get it downloaded zero times, so we just use the machine learning model to connect like that so that we can price it as aggressively as possible, and the people missing out will be paying $49 dollars, $79, [inaudible 00:35:09]. If that answers it, which I hope.

Jennifer Harrison:

Yeah. And where can people go to find out more about Before You Bid and also to connect with you?

Rhys Rogers:

Yeah. So beforeyoubid.com.au is the best place to go. There’s a contact tab at beforeyoubid.com.au.

Jennifer Harrison:

And if they’d like to reach out to you, are you on… Is LinkedIn or email preferred?

Rhys Rogers:

Yep, on LinkedIn’s great. Jump on. I often get emails so you can jump on there and I’ll get back to you.

Jennifer Harrison:

And is there anything else about Before You Bid that we haven’t discussed that you’d like people to know?

Rhys Rogers:

I think we’ve discussed enough. I just want to say Mark, I love your business idea. I also love yours, Babette. I was just thinking when you’re walking along, I walk along with my fiance often and I wish I could… A lot of it’s wishing because all my… Unfortunately all my wealth is tied up in paper in the business, but it is a great idea, if you’re walking around and you can go, if you can afford to, and just try to tap into a few of them. That’s a great.

Mark Allen:

And Rhys, we should chat when we’re building out our sale side of it. I think it would be a very good plugin to be able to offer that for the sellers, so we should chat.

Rhys Rogers:

This is great. This has been worthwhile for sure.

Jennifer Harrison:

There you go. This is proptech magic alive actually, I really liked the idea of getting genuine feedback from buyers as to whether… Because a real estate agent will probably tell me, “That carpet’s really yucky. You should change it.” But maybe the buyers really just don’t need to, maybe they don’t care about the carpet journey. Maybe I would change it to something that they don’t like, and they would intend to rip the carpet up and polish the floorboards. I love that little aspect of what you’re doing just from an overall aspect of time and cost efficiency, but also sustainability and the environment. Because every time we’re ripping up carpet or every time we renovating bathrooms or kitchens, there’s obviously a lot of costs that goes into the environment and possibly it wouldn’t have made a bean of difference to the price that the owner could sell.

Rhys Rogers:

I’m just seeing a comment here saying we need to see if Rhys has a proptech t-shirt. Unfortunately I do not, but just picture it Before You Bid going across there. I know my marketing manager will be watching. “This is why we need shirt.”

Jennifer Harrison:

I must compliment and thank Babette again, because Babette and Craig did get involved in #shirtsofproptech. I’ve had my photo taken this morning. Probably next week I’ll have my #shirtsofproptech gone, so Mark, we’ll have to get a photo of you and the team. #shirtsofproptech. Thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you very much to Mark Allen from Patch, Babette Coutanche from Properti, and Rhys Rogers from Before You Bid. I’m Jennifer Harrison, I’m vice president of the Proptech Association of Australia. If you don’t already follow us on LinkedIn, that’s the best way to keep up to date with who we are and what we do. And thanks for your company. Hope to see you again soon.

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