More than just a listing site for property sales, Soho is a network for all things property.
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Australian property listings haven't changed too much since the advent of online listing. You go to a site or app, put in your details and browse listings. Soho wants to make this process better by creating a genuine, active network of agents, sellers, buyers and renters. Soho wants to be "LinkedIn for property".
Agents can list properties for free and create their own profiles. Interested buyers can search properties, use Soho's Tinder-like property match tool and keep up to date with property developments by curating a newsfeed.
Here's a quick run-down of the company and its history.
|Location||Sydney, Australia & Singapore|
|Proptech category||Property search|
We're trying to bring value to the conversation beyond just the property listing.
-Soho founder Jonathan Lui
Entrepreneur Jonathan Lui started Soho in 2017 after his experience trying to find a property in Singapore. He already had one major business success under his belt, having co-founded Airtasker in 2012.
Since its launch, Soho has seen 600% traffic growth and raised millions in investor funding. This includes a $1.65 million seed investment from investor firm BridgeLane.
For Lui, the opportunity for Soho is not so much to solve a currently unsolved problem but to create value that doesn't currently exist.
"People don't think about what other opportunities there are. How much better could it be?" says Lui. "There's an opportunity in Soho to make this huge, thriving ecosystem dedicated to real estate. As a first home buyer you'll not only be able to buy property. You'll be able to find the right agent and get the right research directly from people on the ground."
What does Soho do?
Soho allows buyers, renters and investors to search for properties online. Real estate agents can list properties on the platform. Unlike many search sites, listing on Soho is free for agents.
Soho has both a website and an app, which provide a similar experience across desktop and mobile.
Where Soho differs from a simple listing site is with its network features. You can quickly create a profile (by linking your Google or Facebook account) and follow real estate professionals.
Much like LinkedIn, you can make or view posts about real estate topics. Users can follow specific topics via hashtags, create their own newsfeed and form groups.
But Soho provides an audience that's entirely property focused and is for buyers and agents. This is unlike LinkedIn's professional network, where your posts are more likely to be read by industry peers than by potential customers.
Soho also has a messaging functionality within the app, allowing you to reach out to agents directly. It's simple enough, but the feature is potentially very useful, especially when you consider that communication on traditional listing sites usually involves a phone number or a form that leads to an email.
Soho lets you search for properties in two ways. First, there's the more conventional listing approach, with search filters for property types, location, price range and room size. Then there's a Tinder-esque property matching feature.
How does it work? Once you enter some search preferences, Soho will show you suitable properties, one at a time, in a card-style design. Each card has photos of the property, price range, address and other information. You can hit not interested, maybe, bookmark it for later or click through to get more information.
And yes, you can swipe left and right on mobile.
What we think?
Finder's quick thoughts on the company and its offering.
Soho is easy to use and feels genuinely different from listing sites like Domain and Realestate.com.au. Searching for properties is intuitive, if similar to traditional sites. The tiled approach to listing properties on a desktop makes it easy to sweep through a stack of properties at a glance, which is very helpful.
The ability to set a search location and then widen the search range via kilometre is a helpful feature. A few minutes of playing around with the app and I was looking at relevant properties in suburbs just beyond my immediate neighbourhood, which I often overlook.
As for the property matching? It's fun and very intuitive on mobile, although I personally prefer to scroll through listings. Again though, flicking through cards quickly brought up more properties in different locations that I might have overlooked with a traditional search.
The network effect
Every feature in Soho works as intended. And the idea of a network approach to property has enormous potential. Property professionals can share their insights and properties with a focused audience of buyers, renters and investors.
But any successful network ultimately requires a growing base of active users who post content and a bigger audience of users. Soho currently has over 8,000 agents on the platform and 50,000 buyer profiles. Future growth is obviously key to Soho's goal of creating a thriving network and out-competing the established property search giants.
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