Sydney startup Followit helps real estate agents deliver real-time information to property watchers

- February 18, 2016 3 MIN READ

It’s long been a stereotype, but Sydneysiders young and old truly are obsessed with property. To help fuel those endless conversations about property prices and how millennials will never be able to afford to buy comes Followit, a communications platform connecting consumers with real estate agents.

Followit’s founders believe the platform can be most easily likened to Instagram, but rather than following friends or celebrities, you follow the houses, streets, or suburbs where you want to live. It aims to deliver real-time information to the public from the real estate industry, like the stock exchange does for shares.

Cofounder and head of concept Peter Grant said the idea was to create a live platform that brought about a sense of transparency and honesty to real estate, with the founders deciding that the only way to do this was through the delivery of live information.

“If the industry does have a bad reputation, it is not about the industry itself, it’s more about people not really knowing what’s going on. When you have a live platform with live information, that makes everything transparent and also documented. We feel that Followit will create better relationships out in the market,” Grant said.

“The real estate market is designed from a series of actions: a property comes onto the market, it’s listed and you generally get price movement, and there might be auction updates, or it might go under contract, or it might be withdrawn from sale. These are all really important pieces of information the public require so they can make better decisions. Followit has been designed to deliver all that property information in a live stream to the public.”

For the customers wanting to buy or sell, the platform allows them to select their criteria such as regions, suburbs, price points, or investment types, and follow properties that fit the bill. Their feed will then show the latest updates on these properties and areas, such as changes in price estimations, sales, and upcoming inspections to keep them up to speed with the latest in the market.

The platform is also aimed at real estate agents, allowing them to reach and connect with as wide an audience as possible. With that audience full of people who are genuinely interested in the property, Followit’s pitch to agents is that the platform will lead to increased productivity and save time through access to hot leads, while also creating “competitive tension” in the market.

In terms of the platform’s build, Followit cofounder and head of product Joe Arthur said that the concept of live updates sent direct to the end user from the market came halfway through the process, with the original idea focused more on transforming existing CRM tools to boost agent productivity.

Existing CRM tools send information to platforms such as realestate.com.au, simply putting the a listing online. Followit developed a system that took and evaluated information from the CRM, and began working on making it possible for agents to message the market with this information directly.

“One of the biggest breakthroughs we had was automating the process of information being delivered to us, so when we received data from the CRM, we were generating push notifications from that information without the agent having to be involved in the process. That meant we were automatically scalable, that the ‘integrity’ of information the user would be receiving would be absolutely complete and we weren’t vulnerable to the agents solely generating the push notifications,” Arthur said.

The platform is free to use for buyers and sellers, while agencies can buy a monthly subscription that ranges in price from $199 to $499 a month depending on the number of agents, the area they’re in, and when they have signed up.

With the platform having launched in beta on Sydney’s Northern Beaches last September, Grant said the team is happy with usage so far. Despite the huge number of players in the property market, with Domain’s real estate app also allowing users to keep track of properties and areas, he believes followit is truly providing something new that the market is eager to use. Unlike existing platforms, he said, it is a “follow engine not a search engine.”

“If an agent updates a price on any of the other media portals, it doesn’t update anybody, the public has to actually go and find that update. So, over the next few months we envision our audience of buyers and renters to be huge and Followit to be a major platform for consumers that want their information now,” Grant said.

Followit’s first official launch is set for Western Australia next week, with a release in all capital cities to follow.

Image: The Followit team; Peter Grant, Charles Baynie, Tony Moussa, Joe Arthur, Chris Azzi, Alan Hashem. Source: Provided.

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