December 13, 2018

Propseller, a Singaporean startup that helps prospective property sellers and landlords find and compare the best property agents, has closed S$1 million in seed funding from industry entrepreneurs and senior executives. The funds will be used to accelerate its growth and further develop its technology focused on a “transparent approach” to select an agent using independent reviews and agents’ track records. This goes hand in hand with the “Industry Transformation Map” announced in February 2018. Along with the founder Adrien Jorge, a former Groupon senior executive and property investor, the team of 7 has already put up for sale and rent a staggering combined property value of S$500m within only 12 months.

With 30,000 registered property agent in Singapore, 2.7 times more than doctors, how would a property owner looking to sell or rent select the good agent(s), the one(s) providing great advises, closing a deal fast and at the best price? Looking for advertisements or for recommendations from relatives or friends could be an option but is this thorough enough? Maybe not. “Too often, owners waste time with unprofessional agents not delivering,” says Adrien Jorge, the founder of Propseller. “It happened to me 3 times until I found reliable property agents.” According to him, “transparency and accountability” are missing in the industry. This observation is shared by the Singapore government, with second minister Mr Desmond Lee announcing earlier this year that part of the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map aims at setting the ground for more transparency, especially the track records of property agents.

Consumers seeking quality and transparency can now use Propseller to compare individual agents. The startup is the first and only independent player that collects and verifies ratings and analyses historical transaction data of agents from any agency in Singapore. Within one minute, the user is presented with a list of the best 3 to 10 estate agents based on both the given criteria and agents’ track record while receiving advice on fair commission. Jorge adds, “To successfully sell an HDB in Tampines and to rent a condo in Orchard, you need two very different types of agents. Nevertheless, in both cases, you need to engage a top professional with a track record of success rather than a part-timer desperately trying to do his best.”

Only 12 months after launch, S$500 million in combined property value has already been put up for sale or rent by the owners using the platform. On the agent side, the traction is just as high, with 500 handpicked agents—from estate agencies such as PropNex, ERA and Sotheby’s—embracing the transparency route, and joining Propseller to allow clients to rate their services.

The startup sees its service as “complementary” to the property listing portals. “PropertyGuru or 99.co are presenting properties to buyers and tenants. But for this to happen, the owner first needs to find an agent who will then advertise the unit on property listing portals, that’s the part we facilitate. We see interest from foreign tenants and investors who appreciate the guidance of an agent to help them spot a place, but the very vast majority of our clients are local HDB and Condo sellers or landlords looking to work with the best property agents in Singapore.” With the Council of Estate Agents planning to publish all property agents’ transaction records by the end of 2018 for HDB and by the end of 2019 for private properties, the company said it will use the funding to get prepared to “transform this larger available dataset into clear recommendations for the consumers”.

Propseller’s model and progress have attracted investments from prestigious business angels. Local entrepreneurs Yang Bin Kwok and Erwan Mace, founders of two of Singapore’s most successful startups, Zopim and Muslim Pro respectively, were in the round. They were joined by some industry senior executives. Most notably PJ Vandepitte (global COO of Foodpanda), and real estate industry veteran Yvan de Rham (former Chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty for Switzerland).