Startup ZipMatch is seeking to professionalize and make the real estate business more efficient through a combination of digital and personalized customer services.
The Manila-based tech startup offers a full concierge service to walk clients through the home search and buying process on top of its selection of properties and various online tools.
The site features a mortgage calculator and a blog with news and advice to help buyers keep abreast with what’s happening in the industry. To date, ZipMatch is the only Philippine real estate online site that offers this integrated suite of solutions combined with a personalized service.
In an interview with UpgradeMag.com, ZipMatch’s IT Director Kyle Wiltshire revealed that the site was built using cloud technologies, particularly Amazon Web Services. “We chose AWS because of its speed of development,” said Wiltshire.
ZipMatch’s entry into the Philippine real estate market comes at a fitting time with property sector analysts expecting continued acceleration in real estate investments in the country beyond 2014. Real estate was one of the key contributors to economic growth in 2013.
“While there are more customers now starting their home buying experience by searching for properties online, the industry is still traditional. Even property websites and online classified ads are only driven mostly by advertising revenues with numerous listings that can overwhelm the customer,” said ZipMatch cofounder John Dang.
“Currently, buyers have to contend with poor-quality listings sites, properties that are either unavailable or nonexistent, and real estate brokers who are either generally unhelpful or just plain unprofessional. We also don’t have multiple listing services (MLS) for licensed brokers and real estate websites don’t offer them much help either. Even large property developers find it difficult to market their products. These are the issues we want to address,” he added.
More than just a property listings site, ZipMatch functions much like a comprehensive online community of licensed brokers, sellers, buyers, property developers, and even banks and other financial institutions.
ZipMatch recently closed a deal for strategic partnership with BPI Family Bank, thus enabling home-loan applications to be part of its property search process. The move is seen to boost the current portfolio of services that ZipMatch is offering for the benefit of buyers and brokers alike to help streamline the home-buying experience in the Philippines.
Under the strategic partnership, ZipMatch is integrating home loan application into its services. BPI Family Bank, on the other hand, will benefit from better-validated customer applications to speed up the pre-approval process.
“Buyers don’t know what exactly they’re searching for,” ZipMatch co-founder Chow Paredes said. “Most of the time they don’t know that a residential project is set to rise in, say, Brgy. Kapitolyo in Pasig City, which is perfect for them as they prefer to be near top schools and the Ortigas Center at the same time. This is where our concierge service helps, as it narrows down their search. With our recent partnership, home loan application will be part of an integrated process.”
ZipMatch’s business model in turn provides an effective web-based sales and marketing solution for ZipMatch’s partner brokers, brokerage firms, and property developers, by providing them with a unique customer-generation solution. This enables them to prospect for qualified buyers, through ZipMatch’s concierge service, and reach potential clients previously untapped by traditional marketing.
“With ZipMatch, we’re trying to create a set of solutions that can apply to the Philippine setting and other emerging markets and in the process help create an online real estate environment that’s comprehensive, efficient, and risk-free,” said Wiltshire.
The startup was formed in April last year. In February this year, ZipMatch was able to raise its first seed funding round from a group of world-class investors led by IMJ Fenox and including 500 Startups, IdeaSpace Foundation, Inc. (IdeaSpace), and Hatchd Digital.
Koichi Saito, General Manager of IMJ Fenox, said: “ZipMatch, as the only online real estate marketplace in the Philippines, is operating in an extremely alluring and growing space. Sixty-eight percent of the Filipino population is below the age of 35, and as more people become tech-savvy, the demand for online property search is increasing rapidly.”
As venture partner Khailee Ng of 500 Startups said, “We’re always looking for the next big success story in each country, and we see this with ZipMatch.”