From RnB to real estate; Shaneal Sharma looks to shake up property buying with Houseroo
A former Australian pop star with three top ten global hits is aiming to shake up the property market with an app aimed at simplifying the often complicated process of buying and selling a home.
With a music career spanning over a decade, Shaneal Funk – or Shaneal Sharma in the business world – has gone from rubbing shoulders with Madonna to working with the likes of Grammy award winning artist and Kanye West affiliate, Malik Yousef, and producing for multi-platinum Australian recording artist Timomatic.
However he has spent the last few years working alongside a team of coders out of his Brisbane home to bring his prop tech app called Houseroo to life.
The app is designed to bring all of the key stakeholders involved in a property transaction from conveyancers, real estate agents to building inspectors, insurers and lenders onto one platform, with the ability to track and manage the process in real-time right through to settlement.
Having bought and sold eleven properties of his own, Sharma says he believes the opaque and fragmented nature of the industry isn’t working as well as it could in the age of constant online connectivity.
“It’s still the same confusing, stressful, complicated and disconnected experience because there are so many moving parts,” he says.
“Every day, thousands of property sales fall through simply because someone doesn’t know about a potentially deal-breaking issue. Critical dates and correspondence constantly go unnoticed.
“And when they do, the buyer loses their dream home, the seller loses the sale, the agent loses their commission, and the conveyancer has to chase partial payment. Usually because of something as trivial as a missed call or lost email.”
Houseroo distils the process into a visual timeline and guides a user through the buying and selling journey. Buyers, sellers, agents and conveyancers can all see the exact status of the transaction in real-time and all concerned parties are warned immediately with a push notification to their smartphone if something needs attention before it becomes a problem.
Complete property management
The Houseroo app is an evolution of Sharma’s earlier idea ‘Conveyance Genius’, which had been designed as a tool for conveyancers to communicate with the various stakeholders.
Despite having financial backing to launch the conveyancing product in mid-2015, Sharma decided to push back the release and make it a more complete property product.
It was a decision that Houseroo’s head of partnerships, Todd Gee, admits didn’t please some of its early investors.
“We knew that if we were going to follow through with our company vision of an end-to-end property transaction platform, that we had to go all in and play the long game,” he says.
“This didn’t sit well with some of our early investors that were more concerned with short-term gains than solving the real problem.”
One of the key new features it integrated into the Houseroo platform is the ‘marketplace’ where buyers and sellers are able to choose from a recommended list of conveyancers, inspectors and insurance, complete with a price aggregator and the ability to pay for those services via the app.
The marketplace is also an integral part of Houseroo’s revenue model as it takes a small fee from each of the service providers in return for providing leads and new customers. Sharma describes the marketplace as the ‘Webjet of property’.
He plans to expand the marketplace in the future with other service providers including utilities and moving companies.
On the backend, Houseroo is integrating with Domain’s MyDesktop CRM, which gives it a potential reach of over 36,000 real estate agents. Houseroo also recently signed a deal with DocuSign, that will enable digital signing for all property contracts.
DocuSign’s Asia Pacific VP, Brad Newton, sees the potential impact of digital transformation in real estate as “huge”, from the real estate agents and brokers, the buyers and sellers, and everyone in between.
“We’ve seen that all over the US, and we expect to see it here in Australia too,” he says.
“We’re looking forward to working with Houseroo on this, and to helping improve the speed, trust and simplicity of real estate transactions, all the way from lead to close.”
Signing up agents
Sharma claims Houseroo has already signed up over 500 real estate agents and conveyancers to use the system at launch. Houseroo is also looking to expand into the rental market, with features that connect property investors to property managers.
Houseroo has effectively been operating on two small rounds of seed funding and Shaneal says he also sold one of his homes to help fund development. However, 2018 could be a make-or-break year for the tech start-up, as it looks to pursue series A funding.
There’s also the ever-looming threat of competition.
Earlier this year, Domain boss Antony Catalano flagged the potential of leveraging the enormous data it generates on tracking sellers and buyers to further commercial options and products. One of the examples Catalano mentioned was a Houseroo-like concierge service where the company guides an individual through the process of buying and selling property.
However, Sharma says he doesn’t see Domain as a competitor, but rather as a collaborator – Houseroo’s integration with Domain’s MyDesktop CRM operates under a revenue-share model.
Whatever the outcome, Sharma says his philosophy on competition remains the same regardless of whether it is in the music world or tech industry.
“Competition is the best teacher, it will allow us to pinpoint what we may have missed, what we can do better and where we need to focus our energy.”
This content was originally published here.