A friend of mine recently has purchased an apartment in a new real estate project. For some time he has been complaining to me about the low level of service he has been receiving from the company: to find out trivial details about the progress of the construction, numerous phone calls are needed; no one tracks his requirements regarding the finish details of kitchen and bath; he has to coordinate and schedule different sub-contractors (installing bath, kitchen…) by himself, etc.
As it sometimes happens, his complaints have given me an idea for a service that would combine two fundamental needs of apartment buyers in new projects: the need to get updates and track progress of the construction, and the need to get and share information with other buyers in the same project.
Such service would have the following core aspects:
- Channel for communicating updates, hosting relevant documents and tracking construction progress from contractor to buyers (which parts of apartment are already completed, what is the expected finish date of the remaining parts, etc)
- Community through which buyers in the same projects can meet each other, share relevant information, and become a strong buying force in negotiations with sub-contractors
What’s in it for the contractor?
- Decrease the load of nagging phone-calls, and improve the level of perceived service
- Such service can easily be extended to prospective buyers as well: portal with information about the building, including, most importantly, which people already bought apartments in that project. Finding out that doctor and software engineer will be the future neighbors, can be a convincing argument for people considering a purchase in that project
What’s in it for the buyers?
- Receive relevant and up-to-date information about the progress of the construction
- View relevant documents, plans, etc.
- Socialize with neighbors, share relevant information, decide to go shopping together.
- Resulting social network can seamlessly grow into neighborhood community, where people can look for babysitters, offer guitar lessons, car pooling, etc.
And what about the service itself?
- Business model – a combination of ads and members club program
- Ads – kitchens, parquet flooring and jacuzzi ads can be obviously relevant to people looking to decorate their new, but still empty apartment
- Members club – buyers joining the members club for modest monthly fee, can enjoy discount prices on relevant services and products. Interested companies and sub-contractors can get an easy access to potential clients buy partnering with service’s members club, and offering it’s clients exclusive deals
- Distribution model
- Through contractors -when buyers come to company’s office to sign the papers, they receive an invitation to join the community
- Portal partnership – partnering with large classified portal, such as Yad2 can give the service the needed credibility and exposure while offering the visitors of the portal extensive information about the project and its future residents
- Market size – every year tens of thousands of people in Israel purchase new apartments. These people spend in addition tens of thousands of shekels on sub-contractor jobs such as kitchen and bath installations, laminate flooring, etc. Becoming the leading members club for new apartment owners can give the service a significant foothold in a multi-million market
Any expected difficulties?
- Cooperation with contractors may be difficult to achieve – not only these companies are usually far behind in their interest in Internet services, the perceived advantage from their participation in such project may be too small. Possibly they will need additional incentives to come on board
- Steep learning curve – persuading contractor’s secretary that till today has worked mainly with phone and fax to update project progress and info on the web site may prove timely and difficult. The service would have to be extremely friendly to non-tech people.