Helping people buy their perfect home. Shawn asked for a show of hands: how many had a good experience buying their last home? Most of us find the process frustrating and cumbersome. He explained how Area are challenging this with a smart home finding service that connects agents and consumers.
WHAT'S THE BACKSTORY?
This isn’t the first time Shawn has been involved in disruptive start-ups. His experience as co-founder of Tab (a mobile payment and loyalty app) and Vice-President of Yoyo Wallet (a smart mobile payments platform that is now used in over 100 universities and corporate locations) taught him hard-won insights into building a customer base, incentivising people to participate, collaborating with third parties and creating a ‘network effect’ to do something productive.
Now he’s entering the property-tech space with a 50/50 team of techies and real estate experts to streamline the way we search for properties. What’s wrong with Rightmove and Zoopla? As well as being expensive and time-consuming for agents, would-be homebuyers rarely see the latest stock. The truth is that most properties are already quite far through the chain. It’s an administrative mess that requires people to check portal sites every day.
WHAT'S HE DOING ABOUT IT?
Area is a new way to find a home. At the moment the onus is on customers to be pro-active in searching for properties. If you fill out an online enquiry form then the only information the agent receives is your name and email – nothing else. It’s difficult for commission-based agents to identify the best candidates and know who to contact first, so potential customers often end up at the bottom of the pile. It’s a bad experience for everyone involved.
The answer? The best way around this is to contact the agent directly and ask to be added to their CMS. That way you’ll get the latest properties before they are uploaded to the portals – but you’ll also receive a barrage of text messages about properties outside of your budget, flats the other side of town, and home that don’t meet your criteria. Back to square one. So how do you improve the portal system that has now been around for over a decade?
Area buddies up customers with a property buying expert who knows what you’re looking for and understands your lifestyle and situation. They act on your behalf to keep in constant contact with agents, screen phone calls and vet potential properties before they reach your inbox. They can even help first time buyers with admin like applying for a mortgage and finding a solicitor.
The technology behind Area is based on a structured search, so the quality of the suggestions continually improves. Each time you are sent a property you can give feedback. If you don’t like Tudor cottages or only want a property with a pool, then Area will learn from this to only deliver the most interesting properties. And you get to see them before they reach the portals.
NEXT STEPS …
Area is beta testing in Brighton and Cambridge before launching to the rest of the UK. If you’re looking for a home in either of these cities, pre-register at myarea.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be one of the first to use Area.
Rip It Up, Start Again
Lulu Laidlaw-Smith presents Rip It Up, Start Again - a series of events showcasing the best innovative start-ups.