Soho is a property network and app that makes properties discoverable and to help manage everything about property, from storing files to chatting to an agent or property manager.
Describing the platform like ‘LinkedIn for Property’, he says, “The big difference with what we are doing as opposed to other startups is we work closely with the industry to bring properties online, the profile is always there for buyers and agents to engage with at any time,” Mr Lui said.
“It’s a simple proposition. Our goal is to help all the players in the market.”
“We want to change the game by bringing the asset online and letting it sell itself. There are buyers out there, agents and vendors just can’t see them.
It is free for people to put their properties on the marketplace and the app is also free.
Soho will be headquartered in Mr Lui’s new home of Singapore and will be launched globally this week with Australia and Singapore its first target markets.
The entrepreneur left Airtasker last year but still retains a significant shareholding and remains on the board.
Mr Lui says the platform aims to solve the mismatch between supply and demand and help facilitate lead generation for agents. He is clear to note that the platform is not trying to cut out agents but highlight the strong customer service role they play in transactions.
“Professional services is generally what people want. We allow vendors to connect agents to their property. When an agent is connected, the agent has all the tools and skills to sell the property. Yes, an owner can sell a property themselves, but they are probably not going to do a good job. For example. If you look at the stock market, there is a DIY component but the majority is in professional services.
Soho did research across the country and asked 1000 homeowners if they would be interested in listing their homes which are their primary place of residence on the property market for free with no strings attached. 51 per cent said yes.
“That was overwhelming. Owners want this and agents want this as well. Listings are the lifeblood for agents and platforms out there don’t facilitate this.”
Mr Lui admits there is some overlap with REA Group and Domain but he isn’t trying to compete with them.
“Our models are very different. REA Group are leaders and Domain is growing so there is space for other players.
That being said, the relationship between the industry and those platforms can potentially be strained because their fees are increasing every single year. If you think about the way technology is going in other aspects of our life, it’s going the other way and it’s meant to be getting cheaper. That’s why we are trying to work with the industry and be that voice of change.”
At the moment Soho isn’t aiming for initial revenue but looking to get a good product-market fit and prove to the industry the platform offers good value proposition.
“We are not trying to be another player, we really do want to revitalise the entire market.
As for future predictions, Mr Lui says there might be a whole paradigm shift when it comes to buying property.
“When you have to spend at least a $1 million median price for a property in Sydney, does that even make sense? Perhaps you can buy a $400,000 investment in Singapore or the US, or you don’t need to own the house you live in.”