SINGAPORE — Yet another online site for property hunters was launched on Wednesday (Nov 21), with a difference: Users will be able to narrow their search to hone in on certain features of a property and its neighbourhood.
Instead of relying on the usual search parameters such as the location, property type and price, homebuyers may key in “high floor” or “nearby supermarket”, for example, while searching for properties on the newly launched Mogul.sg.
Its founder and chief executive officer Gerald Sim said that these custom keywords are generated using geospatial data provided by OneMap, an application by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which provides localised data on hawker centres, schools and supermarkets, among others pulled from 40 public sector agencies.
There are more than 5,000 custom keywords in Mogul.sg’s database that describes the characteristics of a property. The words were gathered from the firm’s research and after working with real estate agents, developers and buyers, asking them what they look for when they go to a site.
For OneMap location keywords, there are more than 100,000, which include school names, kindergartens, as well as words such as "pool", "patio", "east view" and so on.
Another key feature of Mogul.sg, Mr Sim said, is that it does not support advertisement listings — where property agents “keep paying credits to boost (their listings) to page one”, as seen on other property portals.
This means that homebuyers will be able to get the most relevant search results instead of a listing that is pushed to the top due to an agent's spending.
“Users do not get a paid ad but something relevant,” Mr Sim said.
While the use of the portal is free for property hunters, it is only free for property agents to post their listings for the first year. After that, they will have to pay S$365 a year, which allows for 18 concurrent listings and unlimited photo uploads.
According to Mr Sim, agents are paying S$4,000 to S$11,000 a year to be listed and boosted on other online property sites.
For those interested in the premium membership on Mogul.sg, which allows for 38 concurrent listings with a video upload for each listing, they will have to pay S$200 for the first year and S$500 for subsequent years.
Mogul.sg is keeping fees lower or even free because it is trying to “create awareness… to get users to the site”, Mr Sim said.
There are now 24,000 listings on the site but he is aiming to have between 50,000 and 60,000 sale listings and 15,000 to 20,000 rental listings in the next three to six months.
Mogul.sg is the latest to provide a digital platform for property buyers and agents, following SoReal Prop earlier this year, and property agents’ reactions to the latest portal were mixed.
Mr Adam Wang from FER Properties agreed that the extra search filters homebuyers can use is a feature that other property sites do not have, and will be helpful to buyers.
However, he said that there are some “backend issues that need to be sort out”. Just one search result came up when he used “pool” as one of the search criteria, for example.
Ms Kat Lam from Kat’s Realty said that Mogul.sg is quite similar to other property websites in the market, with the exception of having extra keywords to refine the search.
Another agent, Ms Patricia Lim from Pal Realty, pointed out that the use of OneMap is not a very significant advantage because users of other property sites can just go to the OneMap website to find the extra information they need.
Ms Lim also noted that Mogul.sg does not automatically provide information on the developer and what year the property was built — “basic information” that is available on other online property sites.
“For agents, we just need to put up photos, type in the (property) type and the price. The rest (of the data) should automatically churn out... Otherwise, (if we have to key in) every small detail, it is a repeated job,” she added.
Just like other property websites, Mogul.sg does not resolve the issue of a housing unit being listed more than once, Ms Lim said. There are times an agent does not realise that two different listings are for the same property and they fix different appointments for the viewings only to find out it is the same venue.
Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive officer of International Property Advisor, said that while such technological innovation in the industry is positive, the size of the Singapore market is a major constraint when it comes to sustaining a large number of these online sites, which have proliferated over the last few years.
“Singapore is too small a market and there is high cost involved to try a lot of (such tech innovation),” he added.