REAL ESTATE DISRUPTORS

Meet some of the proptech pioneers in Malaysia and Singapore – these are the faces to watch out for as they change the entire industry.

‘LEGAL FIRM’ IN YOUR POCKET

Since December 2016, several Malaysian developers have signed in to use the LeSys Property app, a real estate legal solution providing real-time status update, e-storage, and a transparent Standard Operating Procedure. Users will be able to store all their property legal documents such as Sale & Purchase Agreement, Loan Agreement and Letter of Offer on ‘cloud’ which can be retrieved at any time, says Vincent Heng, Director of LePro System Berhad, the developer of the app.

“LeSys Property app solves a number of pain points when buying property – the S &P can be prepared and stamped much faster allowing the buyers to apply for their loan very soon after signing the S & P. It also does away with missing documents, fraud and the hassle of calling up legal firms to find out the status of the documents,” he adds.

Legal firms are happy to pay for the service because it is efficient and easy on the pocket. “It’s a solution that developers, agents, lawyers, landlords and buyers welcome, as it expedites the entire buying process,” the young tech entrepreneur says.

SEAMLESS AGENCY OPERATION

Imagine a comprehensive system that allows real estate agencies to manage their operations seamlessly online. Created by Proppeco Berhad, a real estate solutions provider headquartered in Cyberjaya Malaysia, the system, REMA, simplifies and makes transparent a lot of the tedious administrative work within the real estate agency eco system.

It captures customer database, transactions in terms of property type and price, tiers of agent commission system, ranking of agents, work flow; basically, the entire sales submission process.

“Bosses need to spend more time on sales and marketing, not on administrative work,” says Founder and CEO of Proppeco, Michael Cheang, when explaining the usefulness of the system.

Soon to be launched is an even more robust and refined system, a property management tool that can help owners, landlords and agents manage their properties more efficiently. Everything can be conducted online including invoicing, billing, storage of tenancy agreements and Sale & Purchase Agreements, expiry date of tenancies, and even reminders of outstanding fees due from owners.

Users are also able to check the unit status in real time, e.g. whether sold or still available. It manages agents transactions seamlessly as sales submissions are sent directly online to the management who only needs to verify the information given and documents uploaded. Once management approves the sale, the accounts department will be informed of the commission due, hence making redundant Excel sheets and lots of paper work.

All the information, which is encrypted, is easily retrievable from Cloud. According to Cheang, since January 2017, 50 agencies have signed up. The system is gaining popularity as the company has received enquiries from Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and South Africa.

MANAGING YOUR MORTGAGE THRU APP

Ever wondered how much your loan repayment has increased when interest rates are raised or how much your property is worth after paying for 5 years? The iMortgage app instantly gives you all these information. All you need to do is to key in some of the basic information such as loan tenure, repayment amount, etc, and the app will calculate the rest for you.

This is particularly useful if you have more than one housing loan – it can do all the calculations for you in a fluctuating interest rate environment. It can also tell you how long your loan is extended if you pay the same monthly amount.

For those busy bees, there is a mortgage payment reminder function that will alert you 7 days, 3 days and on the day itself of your payment due. This is especially useful because if your repayment is late, there are high chances of the bank revising your rate upwards or charging late penalty fees.

According to Kevin. C, Founder and Deputy CEO of TechApp International Bhd, the app is developed in-house and it’s “the first ever full scale mortgage management app in Malaysia”. “I am not aware of any other country that has such a complete mortgage management app,” he says, adding that the company will eventually introduce the app to ASEAN including Singapore and Indonesia.

FURNISHING WITH MINIMAL EFFORT

By end 2017, anyone can design their own home by using Furmingo’s Interior Design Software Platform (version 2). Furmingo’s software, according to its CEO Frank Wong, is developed to shorten the time for interior design and furnishing for homes. It currently takes about 1 -2 months to design and furnish a typical home. With Furmingo platform, this can be shortened to 3 – 5 days. The user can either do the interior design himself for free using the software or engage designers from a growing list of professional designers.

When completed, the software will display a 360-degree view of a showroom, complemented by photos and prices of over 1,000 products including furniture and furnishing products. The company has enlisted about 2,000 freelance designers to provide templates of home interior designs which end users can pick with a click on the platform.

The interior designers will be paid a percentage of the design fee which can range between RM1,000 – RM1,500 (promotion prices which are subject to change later).

Following a crowdfunding exercise to build the software, about 30 industry players had invested within 2 months. As investors, the companies could upload all their products for free onto the platform.

As of early May, the software (Version 1) has signed up some 150 product companies and received 50 job commissions. When the concept becomes more widely accepted, Wong expects even more job commissions.

HOSTEL RENTAL SOLUTION

The advantages of ‘The Katil’ are many – Working professionals between the ages of 18 – 35 are able to rent several months at a location near where they work, typically in the city centre. It solves the housing affordability and job security issues which are getting more prevalent among Generation Y and Z. The hostel-like ambience with shared facilities like kitchen and bathrooms affords an opportunity for the residents to mingle around and make friends, yet retreat to the privacy of their own room whenever they want to.

“It’s a click and mortar solution,” quips Alwin Aw, Executive Director of the company. The accommodation solution firm scouts for properties as close as possible to the LRT or MRT, negotiates with the owner on profit-sharing, renovate it at its own expense, and then rents out the rooms online through websites like ibilik.my, etc or through referrals. The rooms typically occupy shoplots in strategic locations.

As at early May, the company has an inventory of 64 rooms in Kuala Lumpur and Johor, with most of them rented out. The rental rate varies among cities with Petaling Jaya fetching the highest at RM800 per month which covers all utilities including WiFi, furnished accommodation and use of common facilities like the kitchen, washing machine, etc. In Cheras and Johor Bahru, the rooms are rented out at between RM600 – RM700 per month while the average daily rate is RM65. Typically, rental contracts run between 6 – 12 months. Daily visitors are also accepted if there are vacant rooms.

“We want to make the ambience as homely as possible, yet without sacrificing the new lifestyle – easy accessibility to work and play, and flexible length of stay,” adds Aw.

The 1 ½ – year old company will be opening another 3 outlets to make it a total of 15 this year. Meanwhile, it is also focusing on improving its online management system.

BOOKING A SERVICE WITH A CLICK

As a new property owner, you need services like defect inspection, cleaning, installing lighting and air conditioner, furnishing, and a myriad of other services to make your home liveable. Homeworks.my has been set up to provide such services including even providing a trial dog adoption arrangement where you can adopt a dog temporarily from a dog shelter to see if you and the dog is a good fit. If not, you can return the dog to the shelter.

In the words of Founder Eugene Liu, Homeworks is ‘uberising’ an unlimited number of services to the community especially in a gated and guarded or condominium setting. “You can use your smartphone to book the tennis court, for example, whereas currently you need to do manual booking. It’s the ultimate convenience at your fingertips offering an ‘IKEA catalogue of services’,” he says, adding that eventually they hope to link up with external service providers such as grocery stores so that residents can order groceries online.

The service provider platform is not a mass market app but one that is focused on specific communities which have subscribed to the platform. It derives its income from the fees paid by the residents to the service provider. The fee for each service is fixed and is displayed on the platform.

Another unique service is the digital tenancy agreement which allows an absentee landlord to e-sign the agreement without being present. All it costs is just RM100 which includes the digital agreement and e-storage, plus another RM10 payable to HomeWorks to process the application. A separate stamp duty is payable depending on the rental amount.

So far, several gated and guarded communities in Medini and Kuala Lumpur have signed up and more will follow suit.

LOCKING AND UNLOCKING REMOTELY

igloohome’s 2 locks, igloohome Deadbolt and Smart Keybox allow property owners to grant access to visitors remotely 24/7, with time-sensitive PIN codes and bluetooth keys through igloohome app. Developed in Singapore, the locks are perfect for property managers, homeowners and AirBnb hosts.

“Our products work offline, so there are no worries of WiFi hacking or reliability. The technology behind it is similar to that of an internet banking token, which involves cryptography and synchronisation,” says CEO Anthony Chow.

Property owners can also track the dates and times visitors enter their properties through the access logs feature. igloohome can be used to sync up a host’s AirBnb calendar in which PIN codes will be automatically created for the guest’s duration of stay.

The Deadbolt allows property owners to go keyless. This means no more hassle of forgotten keys or accidental lock-outs.

The igloohome Keybox is the world’s first lockbox that works offline. Keys or keycards are stored inside the Keybox for guests to retrieve when they arrive at the property using the PIN code generated by the owner through the app.

MANAGING SHORT-TERM RENTALS

Managing and practically doing everything to optimse income from short-stays for property owners is what WideBed is all about. Co-founded by Ivan Chong who also acts as CEO, Amenny Chua (Executive Director of Huttons OneWorld Group of Companies) and Dato Terry Chua (Founder & CEO of Wealth Academy Group), WideBed takes the hassle out of renting out properties for owners who are typically developers or private owners.

Most of the properties it manages consist of serviced residences, SOHOs, terrace houses, semi-detached houses, bungalows, villas and even small boutique hotels located in major cities in Southeast Asia. Describing it as the preferred short-term rental host and 24/7 concierge services platform in Malaysia and eventually Southeast Asia by 2019, Chong says the company uses both online and offline channels and partners to reach guests.

“We use popular booking channels like AirBnb, HomeAway, Booking.com, Agoda and Tujia, etc, to manage guest bookings, while at the same time leveraging on our wide range of contacts comprising real estate agents, travel agents, transportation providers, and educational institutions,” says Chong.

The work entails creating property profiles on WideBed and other booking sites, professional photoshoot of properties, furnishing, refurbishing and interior decoration. It even encompasses Internet installation, bill payments, cleaning services and the likes.

Since its rebranding in 2016 with new shareholders and a RM2 mil injection, it has started expanding in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bharu and Sabah.

As the pioneer short-term management service company, it has the track record, hence has been appointed the official short-term lease managers for big developers like Gamuda, Leadmont and OSK.

WideBed’s income is based on occupancy levels, the higher the occupancy, the more management fees it collects.

SPEEDING UP SALES AND LOAN APPROVALS

How would you as a buyer/borrower like it if bankers are the ones to contact you after you booked a property? That’s how MHub works. Right after signing the booking form, where you give your consent to your CTOS credit score being given to the developer and banker, the app will relay that information to both bankers and developer.

This way, even before you apply for a loan or even before you book a unit, both developer and bankers will know the chances of your loan getting approved. This speeds up the entire process of closing a deal.

Developed by TRB Ventures Sdn Bhd, MHub is a web-based app that brings together developers, agents and bankers with a view towards faster turnaround of sales.

For developers, they can use the platform as their own app where they can see their inventory in real time, unit plan, amenities and facilities. It even offers an online showroom where purchasers can book online. Once booked, the information is relayed to the bankers in the developer’s panel who can initiate contact with the borrower to explain their loan offerings.

Through the Loan Tracker in the app, the bankers can log in to get leads from both agents and developers. Once the borrower applies for a loan, everyone can check the loan status through the app. The banker can update the loan status with just one click.

“Eventually, the buyer’s booking fee can also be collected online and there will be a review system to show which bank is more popular,” says MHub’s Co-founder and CEO, Quek Wee Siong.

By giving real time unit availability and the latest loan status updates, it does away with too many manual processes and helps avoid double booking, adds Quek.

The CEO admits there are competitors out there offering similar products but stresses “MHub is able to offer a more comprehensive set of tools. We work with the best bankers for a higher chance of conversion to sales.”

Since its launch in September 2016, the app has already helped disbursed RM80 mil in loan value from sales coming from 10 developers (mostly public listed). There are at least 500 users currently.

‘WONDER-FUL’ FOR BUYERS AND SELLERS

Wonderlist is essentially an app that facilitates lease options i.e. buyers rent now with an option to buy later, says Ray Chung, Wonderlist CEO. Buyer and seller agree on the purchase price to be paid, say 3 years later. In the meantime, buyer can rent the property. The rental is used towards part-payment of the property. When the 3 years is up, the buyer can choose to fork out the balance of the purchase price through a loan (which might be easier to get by then).

If the price of the property then is higher, the buyer stands to gain the difference in price and can even sell his property at a profit. Or, he could sub-let it. Before expiry of the lease, he could also transfer his option to another person. In other words, it helps buyers to gain a foothold on the property ladder amid a difficult borrowing environment where 50% of loans are rejected and buyers have a hard time coming up with the downpayment.

From the seller’s perspective, there will be a greater pool of buyers as there is no requirement for an immediate lump sum downpayment. As a higher rental is charged for this arrangement, it helps the seller’s cash flow. If the buyer were to cancel the deal, the entire rental paid so far is forfeited so there is a very strong commitment from the buyer to proceed with the purchase.

Documents that are required include the Tenancy Agreement, Option Agreement, Sale & Purchase Agreement and a Power of Attorney.

“Wonderlist is the only platform in ASEAN providing this kind of listing,” says Chung. It uses an underlying blockchain technology to record the transactions which can be stored and retrieved at any time. As of May, the app has concluded 20 deals out of about 65 listings.

The company, which is co-founded by 7 people, has also collaborated with FAVE (formerly Groupon) to sell a coupon worth RM5K for RM500 which can be used to redeem selected properties.

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