At 55, Ismail Gafoor does not quite fit the profile of a typical millennial Youtuber. But the chief executive officer of Propnex, a listed real estate agency, is indeed a Youtuber and influencer – of sorts. He is the star of many of his company’s videos on its Youtube channel, distilling his years of hard-earned expertise in Singapore’s property market into minutes-long videos.
With a showman’s confidence, he has been offering analyses of new launches and showflats to the public for the past few years. Lately, he has also taken to filming minute-long videos to send out to his Whatsapp groups that include some 7,600 sales agents.
“I don’t even have to plan it. Recently, I thought a development was a really good product, so I just asked someone to hold my camera phone and I talked. I did it on a Tuesday evening and, by Wednesday, the video was out,” he says. But, while he has instantaneous access to his team that spans Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, he is wary of information overload. “People get overloaded. This is why sometimes they don’t even open their e-mail anymore,” he says. To prevent this, Propnex even has a team that plans and schedules Whatsapp messages, so that no more than five are sent out daily.
Ismail is also big on apps, of which the company has already developed three. There is one for consumers to browse property listings, which he notices is gaining momentum among younger users in particular. The agency also has a co-broker app that external agents can log into to track the various stages of a transaction, so as to reduce paperwork. Then, there is the Propnex Virtual Officce app, which the company developed for its agents to gain access to real-time data on recent transactions. “We have made it compulsory for every salesperson who closes a deal to log it into the virtual office within 48 hours,” says Ismail.
The agency, which has about 40 per cent market share of the primary and secondary market, sees this as the most efficient way to share up-to-date information about market trends and the latest transactions. For example, an agent would be able to find out recent transacted prices for properties in a specific area, which would give both buyers and sellers a more accurate indication of property prices.
“We aggregate data to our advantage. Our salespeople have knowledge of market trends and use this information to educate our customers,” he says. “This is why in terms of competitiveness, we are ahead.”
Up next, he is placing his bets on virtual reality and augmented reality to disrupt the industry. “Augmented reality will allow you to see things that you can’t visualise today. This technology could let you see, for instance, what the view from the living hall of a unit on the 43rd floor would be,” he says.
However, Ismail predicts it could take some time before agents will be able to close a sale just through the use of 3-D technology. “Singapore property is so expensive that you won’t sign on the dotted line just by wearing goggles or viewing a 3-D image. But, in time to come, the younger generation who has been exposed to the virtual world since they were young might be ready for it.”
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Smarter, faster
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