Written by Ganna Kryklii.

Last week our team attended one of the major online real estate industry conferences – the Property Portal Watch in Bangkok. The PPW is the place to be to get a helicopter view directly from industry experts and C-level executives of 30+ portals from all over Asia, Africa and Oceania. While expertise and market insights were shared, these are the trends we found repeatedly discussed:

Push-model using big data

For years portals have been and still are focused on offering users the widest choice of properties , so that they can search for what they need. The “pull” strategy of capturing potential buyers / renters and making them choose proved to work well in time for all types of property portals: from traditional vertical portals to generic classifieds, which have “property” listings as one of the many available categories. But with consumer behavior being codified, how about switching the focus from “search” to “match”? Would you rather show a property to 100 random customers, or to 5, highly probable to convert profiles, minimizing costs and maximizing desired outcome? The power of numbers is striking, but whether portals are technically prepared to apply it or not still remains the question.

Getting closer to the transaction

Leading portals in mature markets are consistently cutting revenue share from traditional advertising. According to industry experts, for Zoopla (UK top portal) this number went down from 100% to 30% over the course of just a few years. Thus, it’s clearly a hot a topic on the agenda of business owners’ to expand across the value stream, providing more benefits to end-customers.

As mentioned by Imran Ali Khan, CEO and CO-Founder of Zameen, N1 portal in Pakistan, the more developed the market is, the closer you need to get to the transaction. In the meantime, the share of revenue generated by agencies for emerging markets still stays as high as 70 – 80%.

The brainteaser of finding the way to monetize visits, while most of the revenue keeps coming from agencies, is not the easiest one. But it is a must-solve to stay in the game for a long run.

Dealing with customer expectations through innovation

Growing sophistication of the demand is certainly the biggest catalyst of change in the industry.

According to Hari Krishnan, CEO of Property Guru, main player in SEA region, “Seekers’ expectations are higher than ever. More and more of our customers are digital-native, and they expect same level of proximity as Uber offers, digitalization as Airbnb’s, a level of personalization like Netflix’s, the ease of payment of Apple and no less than that.”

So for someone who stands up to stay and compete in the industry, change is the only constant.