Thursday, October 4, 2007

G-Ro Talks With PropertyQube-Real Estate Comeback 101

So I've been sitting on this interview for a minute. Dave Bethany, co-founder of PropertyQube was kind enough to answer some questions for me about their great new real estate' social media site. PropertyQube is a social community that enhances your PropertyLife relationships and experiences. On the site you can share your PropertyLife Stories - show off your Home Improvement Projects - Connect with and recommend your property professional - Ask your property questions and get answers from local professionals.

Since the interview they have gained a great number of new members and made some improvements to the site. I do recommend PropertyQube to anyone looking to join the conversation within the real estate community and your local real estate world. So I'll cut the crap and let Dave tell the story.
Greg: Please give us your best elevator pitch.

Dave: Propertyqube is a social community that enhances the relationships and experiences in people’s PropertyLife. Consumers can share their PropertyLife stories, show off home improvement projects, connect with and recommend Property Professionals in their trust network, and get answers to questions through one of four Conversations Boards. Over time, as people go to make property decisions they’ll find that all the knowledge, advice, and people they need are right at their fingertips - in their Propertyqube trust networks!

Greg: What demographic are you trying to reach and how do you aim to reach it?

Dave: Our target audience is anyone from in their mid-twenties to late middle-age, who is tech savvy, independent, and property obsessed!

We are really trying to appeal to consumers, whether they’re in a transaction or not. The value of being a member of Propertyqube is being able to plan and share – this is a place where people can come to enjoy their property, not just sell or buy it. But of course, when a member does think about purchasing a home, they have all of the necessary resources available to them on Propertyqube...ideally, in their own network.
Greg: What can a real estate agent get out of the site?

Dave: Propertyqube is a consumer focused site and because of this, it’s a GREAT platform for agents and any property related professional to market their services and thus generate new leads. But better than that, it’ll be a great place to nurture relationships with past clients. Agents who believe in building loyalty and growing referrals will get great value from our network. While past clients enjoy their homes, an agent can for the first time take part in that experience and stay active in their clients lives. Propertyqube is the ultimate agent referral site because it’s built on the principle of a TRUST network. If you’re past clients trust you and your work, then you have a great chance of landing a referral to a friend or a recommendation within the Propertyqube network.

The best part is that this indirect, unobtrusive marketing on Propertyqube is free! Professionals have role-based profiles (so an agents profile looks different from a contractors profile), meant to bring out and highlight the right information for each type of service. An agent profile includes links to a business website and blog, contact information, expertise, a featured listing…and much more in the near future. As engagement grows, consumers can browse agent responses to consumer questions, recommendations from other members and other data to get a good understanding of an agent’s qualifications and reputation.

Greg: What are the benefits of joining your community for a property owner/investor?

Dave: Individual owners and renters benefit by having the ability to tie their entire property lifecycle together on one platform and stay connected with their real estate professionals. They are able to interact with family and friends in a very personal way by showing off their home improvement projects, seeking advice on a design idea, asking questions related to real estate…and this is only the beginning. We just launched and we have a lot more we are unwrapping in the next few months.

Greg: How do you see the site developing and expanding in the next 6 months, 1 year, 5 years?

Dave: Well right now, we are conducting several pilot programs, one in the professional community with agents we have partnered with and one with a consumer community here in NYC. I would love to go into more detail but I’ll err on the side of conservatism and keep you in suspense! If these pilot programs work, we will be releasing these new features in the next month or so. We also take the approach of quick iteration based on feedback and we’ve already been doing this in our first week since launch. You can expect a lot more of this in the next six months.

Long-term (1 – 5 years), we have some pretty big ideas. The Conversations Board which you will see when visiting Propertyqube, is only one offering we have built on top of our platform. There will be several more to come.

Greg: Why would an investor, buyer seller choose Propertyqube over another Real Estate Network?

Dave: Consumers have the ability to interact with their family and friends in a very personal and private way. Our homes are such an important part of our lives and a favorite conversation topic! We give people an avenue to share their homes with unlimited picture upload. We also make it convenient and efficient for consumers to recommend professionals to their trust networks which is great for a professional because a referral is the biggest compliment they can get! Real Estate is a word-of-mouth business. When someone needs to get into a transaction, they ask a family member or a friend if they know a good agent. We take that off-line word-of-mouth mechanics and bring it online to make it more efficient and convenient for consumers. Once we get more professionals on board, Propertyqube will also be a great site to find the right professional because consumers will have a complete view of all the professional has to offer.

Greg: How does the social graph apply to Propertyqube? How does one obtain new members in their Trust Network?

Dave: We don’t expect a lot of connections until a little further down the road – not until we build out the functionality we are working on right now. The value isn’t where we want it to be just yet. As time goes by, we see professionals inviting past clients, consumers inviting professionals to recommend them to their network, and consumers inviting friends/family to interact with them in this context, and so on.

There are two mechanisms to enable this: one is to search the site for individuals. The other is to invite them to join through email. We are currently working on a method that would move invitations in a different direction (yes, another pilot).
Greg: Your site is very much based on conversation and the giving of information based on question asking, how are you going to keep that content fresh?

Dave: As I said above, the Conversations Board is by no means the primary purpose of the site. We view having a Conversations Board as being a great standard feature rather than a differentiator. This is only one feature on our platform. Engagement throughout the site is extremely important and over the next few months, we will be releasing new functionality to increase engagement as well as incorporating new information into professional profiles to make them even more valuable to consumers.

Greg: Overall, how do you see social networking influencing how real estate is marketed, bought and sold?
Dave: The most important aspect or change is how professionals interact with consumers. It is no longer about making that “Hard Sell” to the consumer. It is much more about making sure you stand out from the crowd by establishing your local knowledge, giving superb customer service, managing your clients on one single platform so relationship-building is a continuous process rather than a one-time transaction-focused experience. Real Estate is a perfect place for social networking in the adult community to begin and we want to be on the front lines of providing a great product that is constantly evolving and providing value.

Thanks for the chat Dave and I hope that all of my real estate and property savvy readers head over your way and join the conversation with some great real estate enthusiasts!

-Greg Rollett

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