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Singapore start-up enters Philippine real estate market

Leading Singapore property start-up Ohmyhome is building on Filipinos’ desire to own a home at the right price, at the right site.

Ohmyhome CEO Rhonda Wong
Ohmyhome chief executive Rhonda Wong said the company is the first do-it-yourself buy-and-sell app for those looking for a home or office and for those who want to sell or lease a house, residential space or office.

“In all our markets, we offer the same thing, the same menu. It’s a one-stop-shop offering. We can send an agent to you, meet you at home.  But if you don’t want to pay for any fees, we totally understand that. Agent fees can be very high and unaffordable that we allow you to do it yourself on our platform. That means you download our app, you can post your home, your address, your pictures and buyers or tenants will look for you directly. This is all within the Ohmyhome app and it’s completely free of charge. There are no hidden fees.  It’s just free,” she said.

Ohmyhome provides a DIY option, allowing Filipino customers a chance to simplify their home transaction process. They can browse genuine listings that are free of dummy or duplicate accounts, saving them time in searching for the right property. They can enjoy savings, from listing all the way to deal closing.

For customers needing assistance, they may also engage the services of Ohmyhome’s full-time in-house property agents at a cost-friendly price.

“The company’s proprietary technology will handle approximately 90 percent of the agents’ work such as sourcing for new leads, matching of suitable buyers to sellers, scheduling and advertising. This frees up the agents to focus on the most crucial element of the job—our customers,” said Wong.

This arrangement has been proven effective in Singapore, where Ohmyhome agents perform at the rate of the top 0.1 percent of agents, a level of competence they intend to bring to the Philippine property market.

Wong said customers may also seek the help of Ohmyhome agents. “That’s perfectly okay. If they want help with the mortgage, any legal process, our agents can meet them right at their homes, on their beck and call,” she said.

“In the Philippines, we’re going to roll out every single service, one by one, because we need to make sure that everything is very localized and is done right. These you can expect to see from us within the next 12 to 18 months. What we do at Ohmyhome system is that we provide them a full suite of solutions,” Wong said.

While connectivity is a challenge to businesses, especially now that the pandemic has  forced almost everyone to work and study from home, Wong is confident that the company’s DIY platform will pull through all the challenges, given Metro Manila’s more than 80-percent internet connectivity via mobile gadgets.

Another thing that excites the Ohmyhome co-founder about the Philippine market is the huge potential of the local real estate sector which has grown without let-up in the last 8 to 10 years.

“Especially in Manila where real estate growth has been phenomenal in the past many years, we think that everyone will definitely benefit from our cross-border transaction platform. That’s why we are seeing healthy property prices growing year-on-year, with over 50,000 transactions a year. On top of these statistical reasons, truth be told, that we really have such a good team over in the Philippines,” she said.

“Honestly, we were so clueless about the routines when we first started our office in Manila. We had no idea about the electrical shortages, the internet connection. We didn’t know that it’s gonna take like two to three months to set up the internet connection. I think that this pandemic has actually kind of like fast-forward the whole world in technology adoption. And it kind of like forced everyone to adapt, like digitally adapt to the new situation,” Wong said.

She said the Philippines’ phenomenal growth in the last three years. Manila has seen an increase in condominium property prices of 11.9 percent each year on average, she said. The number of transactions also grew steadily—reaching a record 54,000 condominium units sold in Metro Manila in 2018, surpassing 2017’s 53,000 units. 

Still, property transactions in the Philippines are marked by drawbacks such as a lack of transparency, untrustworthy agents, slow feedback and decentralized services. 

“With the country’s huge population, the only way to provide transparent and reliable services to Filipinos is through our advanced technology combined with our offline services,” Wong said.

Compared to their captive market of Singapore and Malaysia, the Philippine market is estimated to be five-times bigger as there are over 100 million Filipinos.

In Singapore and Malaysia, Ohmyhome hosts 2,000 housing transactions per month. The platform also garnered 300,000 application downloads, over 175,000 active users and 15,000 unique listings of real estate properties with a satisfaction rate of over 99 percent.

“In the Philippines, we want everything localized. It took us one year in research and nine months to localize our services and make sure everything is done right. We have a full suite of solutions that we believe will serve the audience in the Philippines,” Wong said.

Topics: Rhonda Wong , Ohmyhome , Real estate , buy-and-sell app
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