They create 360 degree virtual tours where viewers can explore properties from their computers.
When Ray Teo, the founder of Absolute Division in PropNex Realty, was looking to create a virtual tour for his Good Class Bungalow listing, he found the only service provider of 360 virtual tours in Singapore to be quite costly and out of sync with his desired delivery timeline. He then turned to Panoleh, a new maker of virtual tours in Singapore, who was able to meet his exact specifications of a quicker turnaround and within budget.
“He found us and subscribed to our service and created his own virtual tour, at a fraction of the cost,” recounted Jackson Chong, co-founder and CEO of Panoleh, a property technology, or PropTech startup.
Banking on its speed to create virtual tours in less than five minutes and lower price points, Panoleh has attracted close to 900 active users since the service began in October 2016, with 99% being real estate professionals such as Teo. The startup is now casting a wider net in the market through collaborations with real estate agencies in Singapore as well as property portals to feature its virtual tours. It is also planning to set up an office in Jakarta, Indonesia as it looks to expand beyond to foreign markets.
Chong said Panoleh’s key advantage is that it delivers on all the bells and whistles that property agents have come to expect from virtual tours, while also freeing up their time and marketing budgets.
“Besides solving the problem of the poor quality of listings, Panoleh helps agents save time, money and increases their productivity,” he said. “As for consumers, they can shorten the list of properties that they actually want to view and foreign buyers could also view the virtual show of flats at the comfort of their homes.”
Chong explained that realtors are now looking to create personalised virtual tours in an easy way so they can give potential property buyers a comprehensive and convenient house-hunting experience.
“The virtual tours are completely interactive so viewers can click around the property, view pictures and explore the area from their computer screens and mobile devices,” he said.
Virtual tours creates a remarkable improvement in the selling strategies of agents and buying experience of customers, argued Chong, who had worked as a real estate agent himself. He recalled two years ago when the idea for Panoleh sprung after he saw the poor quality of listings in property portals and the prevalence of duplicate and fake listings.
“This has negatively affected consumers' experience and also resulted in an adverse perception on the professionalism of real estate agents in Singapore,” he said, but noted that the options for making virtual tours were financially unattractive at the time. “Agents who want to create a virtual tour for their listings will have to engage a professional photographer for a cost of between $100 to $300, depending the size of the properties. And more often than not, the lead time for the appointment is at least 3 days."
This pushed Chong, and co-founder and CTO Randy Png, to establish Panoleh, a startup that focuses on nurturing a platform where realtors can create their own 360 tours at a lower cost and accelerated speed.
The startup is 100% bootstrapped with the founders putting in $5,000 for operating expenses, but it had worked out as they programmed the platform in-house and within four months were able to roll out the minimum viable product, or MVP.
“As we are fully bootstrapped, we go to great length to manage our cash flow. My CTO spent countless nights in the office to save in transport. And I’m driving Grab part-time at 6am every morning till office hours,” said Chong.
But with Panoleh’s notable take up in clients and a market expansion on the horizon, the hard work the pair has put is starting to pay off. The co-founder is also convinced that once more property agents and foreign buyers start to know more about the 360 virtual tours that the startup provides, it will become an indispensable part of the property dealmaking process.
“Besides hoping to increase productivity and reducing marketing costs for realtors, we would also like to educate property buyers and sellers
that virtual tours are readily accessible, bringing convenience and saving time in their house buying and selling process,” said Chong.
“Right from the comfort of their own home thousands of miles away, it makes sense that 360 virtual tours would allow these buyers to make much more informed shortlists or decisions.”
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