Our team member had a chance to personally meet the winner of our Campaign that aimed to get some insights to solve apartment renting issues in Ho Chi Minh City.
The campaign garnered a lot of responses across groups on Facebook, with tons of requests and ideas. But since only one person could win a large size pizza (of their choice), we had to select one person who deserved the most.
Hands down Randy Austin from Expat in HCMC group won because of his detailed insights about the rental market. When our team member asked him how he had so many ideas, he mentioned that he has been through a lot of hassle, and pain to get his current house. From seeing outdated listings to annoying agents showing wrong houses.
Randy currently works in Software Development field and he also coaches small businesses and companies. He’s been living in the his district-2 apartment for around 10 months.
These are the 10 points he mentioned for any real estate person to make a product worth using:
1. Real Pictures
Guarantee that the pictures shown are the actual pictures of the available unit/ house. (More often than not websites seem to think its ok for them to post just general pictures of similar units which is obviously not ok)
2. Dedicated staff
A dedicated staff to ensuring that all listings/ available units are actually available. (again so often whether it was and intended bait and switch or not, when i ask about a specific unit form a website it seem to be more often then not, no longer ‘available’) To do this you will need to make sure that you have full control over your website / guide. Meaning you can’t farm out website updates to a company who will update it when they feel like it. When the contract is signed, a call is placed, and the listing is removed in minutes. (That person should be fully employed and under direct control of the company) That would be truly awesome.
3. Diverse communication channel
Provide the full ability for any time of communication which makes it easier for a user to quickly get an answer (Phone, Email, Viber, Tango, Skype, Whatsapp, Line, Online Chat, etc) All of these are free to to use, so this way the user can chose which platform best suits there needs.
4. Floor Plan
A basic floor plan of the unit would be quite helpful. So users can get a sense of the apartment/ house outlay. I have seen it done very successfully from a website in Phuket, Thailand which I used a lot which you can find here: www.houseinphuket.com
5. Data Maps for informed decisions
A basic Map of the City with Heatmap clicks (ability to click on individual districts) to filter out other areas, as well as the ability to filter on price and perhaps bedrooms (not too many filters are needed but some so a user can quickly locate an area, price range, and size)
6. Multilingual Support
While English is now becoming an international language, it’s not everyone’s first language and HCM is becoming an international city. While you may not be able to provide the website in every language, Google Does provide a few tools, and some free and paid WordPress Plugins allow for some translations, which may not be great, but its helpful. Another way to help with this translation is to have a common icon set, so when displaying features like a pool, oven, garden, or air conditioning, icons can provide a great visual for just about everyone
7. Better and standard quality pictures
Again this is such a critical part. Here you should create a policy not only of the # of pictures but some type of uniformity. So that users can expect a certain amount of pictures and what types from each and every listing (Ex: 2 from kitchen on both directions, at least 1 from each bedroom and bathroom, 1 from each dining and living room, etc) To maintain this uniformity, when an owner calls to have their property listed, don’t accept pictures from them and let them know its your company policy to visit each property and take your own pictures. They should appreciate this, and its going to get their property rented a lot faster. A clear ‘picture policy’ would be quite helpful.
8. Map based search
A Google interactive map that allows users to zoom in and out, so they have an understanding of the area (you may not want/need to provide the exact address but general area would be quite helpful. Again this is simple and free to do on any website
9. Pictures of agents
This is helpful because many people in a new city will want to know and have a visual of who they are going to meet, so having a picture of them helps people know who they will be looking for and can be quite helpful in a crowded place
10. Feedback and reviews
Get Contact information and feedback from everyone – Regardless if someone rents through you, or just called to ask some questions. Their feedback is essential to your guide and websites success. If they did not choose one of your properties, why not? If they did, what did they like or dislike? What would they improve?
He was surprised to hear that Hoozing incorporates most of the changes he suggested including:
- Real/ verified pictures taken with a professional camera personally
- Only available listings on the system
- Support anytime, in the most common languages
- Google Map based search options in any district
- 360 degree view of the house, and HD pictures
- Real people who live there showing the house with their pictures as profile
He was also astonished to hear about the new concept , that does not involve agents or landlords and ensures great house visit and selection experience.
To know more about it please visit www.hoozing.com/landing/tenant