, Singapore

OrangeTee founder new venture specialises in cross border real estate investment

Newcomer whyborder opened its portal in February 2021 with a set of promising deals and fast turn-around offers.

Dave Loo is well known in Singapore property circles as the founder of OrangeTee. Now he is back with his new venture, whyborder, which is a specialised real estate portal for buyers of international property. 

Buying property nowadays has shifted from having traditional physical walk-in appointments and oculars to having virtual 3D tours. Whilst technology is opening more doors for developers to reach out to a wider base of customers, online portals with various real estate services have likewise been in demand worldwide.

Founder and CEO Dave Loo told Real Estate Asia that whyborder aims to sell any property listed on its portal within 45 days.

“The aim that we try to achieve is actually no listing will stay in my portal for more than 45 days, that means we want to make sure that when you list a property with us, we can help you to sell the property globally, within 45 days,” he said.

“Our existing network globally, direct contact with investors, and agency network in all these cities, are also key reasons why we think we can sell properties within 45 days,” he added.

Loo has been in the real estate industry for multiple decades. From starting OrangeTee in 2000 and selling properties overseas in various regions, he now brings his expertise into launching whyborder which opened in February 2021.

“In the past, what we do is we go to various locations, mainly in Asia, to do weekend events on Saturday and Sunday. We book a hotel, and then we bring overseas property into this hotel and do an exhibition over the two days,” he said.

“Over the last about 20 years, we actually developed ourselves or we actually made ourselves known among developers in these 24 countries and 54 cities. Now we are putting everything into the portal. We can make the whole marketing cost a lot cheaper and the buyer can buy at the quickest speed. So, this is actually a new model right now.” he added.

When the company conceptualized how they were going to build the portal, Loo said that their main goal was to increase transparency. Instead of the buyer first being contacted by an agent, prospective clients are given access to the details of the properties through the portal from the start.

“We want to increase the transparency in any property transactions. That is why when you get into the portal, you get to see the daily international property news update, then you get to see legal advice free of charge in our portal here,” he said.

“When I said I want to increase the transparency, what we're doing is actually we are reversing the whole buying process by allowing the investor to see what happened to the market first,” he added.

Key markets

Loo said that whyborder has observed that Asian investors have 10 to 12 key cities where they seek to buy properties. Among these are Singapore, London, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Vancouver, Toronto, Manila, Sydney, and Melbourne & Perth.

Whilst some buy for personal homes, such those who send their children to study abroad, there are also some who buy properties to use as ‘weekend homes’. So where are people buying?

“It depends on the country. Let us say in the case of the UK, I think what you see quite a big percentage of is buying for kids to study there for personal use. Then places like Bangkok, Thailand, you will get to see a new segment that people are buying there for weekend homes,” he said.

“They travel to Bangkok for the day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then they come back to Singapore or Hong Kong to get back to work. Bangkok is actually a unique market, there is the weekend homes segment you get to see,” he added.

According to Loo, the Thailand real estate market is currently experiencing an oversupply. It has resulted in more buyers becoming interested to invest as property prices take a dip.

“The Thailand market is actually facing quite a severe oversupply situation. A lot of investors enter this market because they're getting a very substantial discount. There have been those who are actually eyeing this market,” he said.

“But in the past two or three years, the price has gone up quite a fair bit. Recently, there is a huge adjustment downwards and this is attracting a lot of buyers coming in. My portal, in these last two or three weeks, has been doing transactions on Thai properties,” he added.

Remote sales

Instead of being slowed down, the pandemic helped whyborder launch quicker in the market. As buyers shift to online portals to gain access to listings, the portal gained benefit from this increased traction.

“The pandemic actually made our portal actually launch quicker. Through this virtual tool that we have, we allow the user, the investor, to invite the selling agent or the developer to go into the tour together with them,” he said.

“Currently, the virtual tour they see in the market is actually one where the buyer enters into the virtual tour themselves. They go in and come out without knowing what to look out for. But our virtual tour actually allows you to invite the agent, the developer to go into the tour together with you. It is so interactive that you know you can actually see the whole site together, ask questions, and even pinpoint the location in that unit,” he added.

He said that unlike other portals, the whyborder’s virtual tour can invite up to 10 individuals. This enables prospective buyers to tour the properties online with their own professionals to discuss necessary matters on the spot.

“Let's say halfway through there are certain things that you do not know, you can always invite a lawyer in to clarify, or you can invite a banker in to actually clarify on the mortgage requirement. So in the whole virtual tour, you can actually invite up to 10 parties right into the whole virtual together virtual tour together,” he said.

Apart from saving time, it also enables all included parties to negotiate the deals real time. Loo said that they have recently closed a deal within a few hours after doing a virtual tour with a client.

“In this virtual tour that we have, you invite them by sending a link, they join, you can do the discussion within 15 to 20 minutes, and you close a deal,” he said.

“In fact, this is how we closed two deals with a Japanese buyer buying into two Bangkok properties within one hour after seeing 10 showflats. We also had one translator in between,” he added.

In the portal, Loo said that the price points are ensured to be the same as that of the listings in the local market. They aim to encourage overseas buyers in buying properties in other countries without having to worry about price points.

As they continue to work with property developers, costs are kept low and access to different services are ensured through the whyborder portal.

“One of the key reasons why we want to develop this portal is actually to make sure that developers can maintain the low marketing costs. Then, they can actually make sure that they sell the price locally and overseas at the same level,” he said.

“When you come to this portal, we assure you that you're buying at the same price as the local, so you will not suffer despite buying from overseas. The key objective is to make sure that both locals and overseas buyers can buy the property at the same value,” he added.

Photo courtesy of whyborder.

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