Thursday, March 26, 2015
From posting ads online to forming his own multi-million brokerage firm
It wasn’t Lubar Alzona de los Reyes’ first time to sell property in 2007 when he joined Sulit and started posting real estate ads. Before that, he helped his brother in a construction business and then worked in Texas, U.S.A. as a contractor for home repairs and painting jobs, catering mostly to Filipinos.
After a short stint in a courier business, Lubar found his way back home to a property career when a relative asked for his help in looking for a house. He did, and he got his first commission. That was in 2007, also the year when he stumbled upon Sulit, now called OLX and became an active user.
“Kasi ang dami ko nang nakikitang nagpopost ng real estate ads sa Sulit. Nagpost ako. The following day, may nag-inquire. Sumagot ako agad. Mabilis ako sumagot eh.” From then, he decided he would make a career of property marketing. Lubar became one of Sulit's first moderators. He has grown his real estate brokerage business using online tools and is now one of the most active sellers of property on Property24, the biggest property portal in the Philippines.
Traditional versus online
From 2007 to 2010, de los Reyes trained as a seller in different developers and continued selling property exclusively online. According to him, some real estate brokers still prefer the traditional way—which is placing ads in newspapers and handing out flyers in malls and other crowded places.
But de los Reyes found that selling property online yielded quality buyers.
“Sa mall, limited ka. Yung inabutan mo ng flyer, hindi mo alam if naghahanap siya ng property. Unlike sa Property24, nag-search si interested buyer. So may intent talaga bumili.”
Though there may be Filipinos who have trust issues in buying online, especially a high-expense item, Delos Reyes said there are ways doubts can be resolved. Seller and buyer eventually meet offline to look at the property. The seller can show proof of identification and accreditation. Moreover, there’s a licensing process that professionalizes the trade. “Buyers will be well-advised to buy only from licensed sellers.”
A business among online sellers
de los Reyes’ was doing well as a real-estate agent, taking home one million worth of commissions at the end of each year. But Lubar dreamt of having his own brokerage firm.
It was also in Sulit where he found like-minded individuals who became eventually his partners.
“Sila rin yung mga competitors ko sa online selling. Nakilala ko lang muna sila sa Sulit. Though competitors kami, nagbabatian kami online lalo na pag malakas yung ads ng isa. SIla yung inaadmire ko kasi magaling sila magpost, magtanong, sumagot” Delos Reyes said.
After a lot of meet-ups, he and his four partners drafted their company which they called DRIVEN Marketing Group, Inc.
In the summer of 2010, they formally opened their firm, based in a cramped 24 sqm. office in Mandaluyong.
From 2010 to 2014, DRIVEN Marketing transferred from one bigger office to the next. Their sales were going bigger, and so did their team.
In their first year, they sold 150 million worth of property. This increased to 450 million in 2011, 850 million in 2012, 970 million in 2013 and 1.371 billion in 2014.
When Sulit was bought by global brand OLX, de los Reyes decided to maintain its partnership with the website, which started it all. OLX opened its property portal Property24 last January 2014 in Manila
DRIVEN Marketing now has a total of 46 licensed brokers and around 500 sellers or agents and has sold properties to more than 3,000 families. According to de los Reyes, most of their buyers are OFWs and BPO workers, all active netizens.
“Ninety-five percent of our sales come from online. Only five percent comes from what we call KKK or kamag-anak, kakilala, kaibigan,” de los Reyes said.
DRIVEN’s office is now in a 300 sqm. unit in Mandaluyong, where they regularly conduct trainings for their agents. Their biggest sale so far for 2015 has come from Property24.com.ph.
“We teach our sellers to be professional. Always use your real name and picture. Huwag papalit-palit ng contact number and user name. Kundi, magiging kaduda-duda ka,” de los Reyes said. DRIVEN members are taught to maintain concise and user-friendly accounts on Property24, which produced DRIVEN’s microsite containing its listings.
Also, de los Reyes reminds them to look professional even in their Facebook pages. “Madali lang mag-Google ng tao ngayon. The interested buyer might look for your page and see if you look katiwa-tiwala. Don’t put a public photo of yourself na nakikipaginuman.”
In their trainings, Lubar always reminds DRIVEN marketers that one person is unique from another. Therefore, each buyer has his or her own personality, educational attainment, quirk and need.
“Pakikisama is important. Be mindful of the way you behave, even online. Matuto makibagay kahit ano mang antas ng kausap mo,” Delos Reyes said of what he learned from moderating for Sulit and selling property.
DRIVEN Marketing Group generates a bulk of its listings through Property24, and Lubar hasn’t changed his mind about advertising exclusively online.
“This is the fastest way to reach your target market. Our ads run 24/7. And this yields to quality buyers. That can’t be said of traditional methods.”
Buyers are also smart these days. They know the facts and they want them laid down immediately. And besides, as Lubar emphasized, everyone’s online now.