Outlandish real estate agent fees may be a thing of the past in Southeast Asia thanks to the good people over at 99.co, who can help you find your dream place in Singapore with their algorithm-driven property search website. Whereas high-traffic sites like Property Guru and iProperty utilize an advertisement-driven model that effectively allows real estate brokers to pay to bump their listings up on the site, 99.co is attempting to break into the Singapore market with a user-based model that does not prioritize results based on agent behavior or bribery. This housing search model gives users the power to determine their own price range, location, and apartment specifications and ultimately leads to a much more transparent view of the housing market.
Launched in November 2014 by current CEO Darius Cheung, 99.co has grown rapidly within the real estate field thanks to a user-friendly interface and lucrative rounds of investment. The company is currently valued at $8 million USD, thanks to the most recent round of seed investment which came largely from venture capital firm Sequoia and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who is a fellow Singaporean resident with similar misgivings about the tiny nation’s opaque housing market. 99.co originally raised $650,000 from earlier investors, including the companies Golden Gate Ventures and 500 Startups, after its initial soft launch of the website back in November 2014.
Despite its relative inexperience in the housing and rental market, 99.co’s incredibly precipitous rise shows that there is clearly an appetite amongst the populace for change in the real estate sector. Moreover, rather than displacing the real estate agents currently in the market, 99.co is simply co-opting their services. Agents or entire agencies can sign up for the agent program that lends agents access to 99.co’s platforms for a small fee. This access allows agents to more easily synchronize listings, vet listings more thoroughly for quality and accuracy, and gain access to the 99.co mobile application. Watch out, unwieldy housing and rental sites the world over — 99.co is gaining steam and coming right for you.