by AZREEN HANI
WHEN Rhonda and Race Wong founded and launched Ohmyhome Pte Ltd in Singapore three years ago, they envisioned their start-up company will become a global transaction platform that makes property transactions simple, fast and affordable.
What the Malaysian-born sisters did not anticipate is the company’s instant success and was awarded Singapore’s No 1 Housing and Development Board App in January 2017, only four months after the application was launched.
In less than three years, the property technology firm facilitated transactions of about 4,500 homes with a combined value of over RM5 billion as of June this year.
The firm is expanding further in the South-East Asia region, with Malaysia being the first overseas venture in July 2019.
When asked why Malaysia is the firm’s first overseas choice, CEO Rhonda said it is “a natural thing to do” as the country is home for her and her sister.
That is not the only reason. Malaysia, according to her, has a healthy real estate market with 200,000 transactions annually.
“There are many pain points in the market that Ohmyhome can bridge. We have a platform that consumers can trust when it comes to buying, selling and renting their homes,” she told The Malaysian Reserve in a recent interview.
“We are optimistic. Malaysia is a beautiful country and people will continue to live here, foreigners will continue to be attracted to invest or move here,” Rhonda said when asked to comment on the country’s property outlook this year.
“In fact, we’ve seen an all-time high of foreign direct investments in Malaysia in the first quarter of 2019. It shows optimism not just from within, but certainly from other countries as well,” she said.
Rhonda said unlike other property portals in Malaysia, Ohmyhome’s business model is in transactions and not advertising. The do-it-yourself platform also connects homeowners and searchers directly at no cost.
“Our platform is a one-stop shop for homeowners and our Ohmyhome in-house agents to list properties there,” she said, adding that within a month of its Malaysian launch, the company had over 1,000 listings, surpassing its initial target of 100 properties within three months.
“We have been pleasantly surprised. It took us several months to get to a thousand listings in Singapore,” Rhonda said.
To date, in Malaysia, the app has more than 10,000 subscribers and the number is expected to grow as Ohmyhome plans to expand in Johor Baru.
It has also managed to ink deals with major property developers such as Mah Sing Group Bhd, Sime Darby Property Bhd and Tan & Tan Developments Bhd. Potential buyers are guaranteed the best prices from partnered developers and offered complimentary rides to showrooms through the Ohmyhome platform.
“Our first partners are notable real estate developers and banks. We also collaborate with indirect real estate players such as facilities management, renovation and handyman companies,” she said.
From the firm’s observation, buyers in Malaysia and Singapore still look for properties below one million in respective currencies, with high-rise condominiums in good locations and strong rentability or price appreciation being the top choice.
“We come across many homeowners in both Malaysia and Singapore who want to transact their properties, but don’t know where to begin, who to turn to and entrust with their property,” Race, the co-founder and COO said.
“Trust is one of the main pain points in this type of cross-border transaction and this is where our customer service and agent team come in,” she said.