Lamudi is an online portal that connects property seekers with property suppliers, from land to residential and commercial, generating tens of thousands of leads every month. Present in 34 countries, the company has over 600 employees and funding of €55 million. Lamudi is part of the Rocket Internet family, known for sites such as Zalora and Lazada, and is backed by investor Oreedoo. We discuss the recovery of Indonesia’s property industry and the ins and outs of this growing enterprise with Managing Director and Co-Founder, Steven Ghoos.
Since Lamudi entered the Indonesian market in 2014, you’ve seen over a 700 percent property listing growth. How has this been achieved?
In Indonesia, it is not difficult to amass many listings. The challenge lies in collecting good quality updated listings from agents that are responsive to inquiries from property seekers. That is why we focus on good processes to make sure that we have the best listings in the industry, and work with the best agents only who respond fast and properly to inquiries from property seekers.
You co-founded Lamudi Indonesia. What attracted you to enter this emerging market?
Indonesia has a big potential, with the fourth largest population in the world and an economy that is still emerging. In terms of online, there are huge prospects as the Internet penetration rate is high and still growing (over 100 million people online in 2016).
What does your job as Managing Director entail?
I ensure the website is working well, with high quality listings and from responsive agents; set up processes and develop solutions so that property seekers can find their dream home; build up our agent network and maintain relationships with our clients such as big property developers; make sure that we offer solutions to customers that are effective in generating leads; implement branding activities – all of which is achieved by our strong local team. Our product development and online marketing is done centrally in our Berlin head office.
What does your website offer users that other property listing sites don’t?
General feedback from our customers is that the leads provided through online portals do not usually have high quality. Therefore, we created a system through which we pre-screen leads that are generated through online marketing, to make sure that they are high quality before we send these leads to our key customers and provide these property seekers with relevant property suggestions.
Also, we started providing differentiated online and offline marketing services to our key clients, to create customized campaigns for their property projects. As such, we offer services that a digital agency would do, but tailored to the property market from our experience and focus.
How does your online portal generate revenue?
Through listing fees and customized marketing services.
Can you share your thoughts on the property market in Indonesia at the moment?
2015 was not a good year for the property industry in Indonesia, and so far in 2016 there has been no improvement. The main obstacles are the high property taxes and the general lull in the economic situation, which makes people or investors wait to buy. We do see a rising trend in the low- and medium-income segment, with many government measures to support this rising middle class. Also, there are some areas that are in higher demand than central Jakarta, such as Tangerang, as the prices are not as high and the traffic situation is better.
Are you noticing any trends in your industry?
Online marketing is definitely growing in Indonesia. We see that the traditional solutions with marketplaces to put listings are not sufficient, and the industry, with Lamudi at its forefront, is creating better solutions to target better and provide better quality. We believe in a simple but user-friendly experience, while leveraging the existing online channels – Facebook, Google, Trovit, etc. – to improve the marketing effectiveness.
Which is more popular at the moment – renting or buying?
Buying. Renting (and also high rise) is still not as commonplace as in developed economies. However, there is a growing trend recently towards more renting and high rise, with the more educated young generation looking for more flexible and close-to-work housing solutions.
Are there areas in Indonesia that are attracting more property developers than others?
Some areas are Batam and Bintan, which are close to Singapore and to Jakarta at the same time.
Tell us a bit about your mobile application. How many downloads have you had?
Mobile is very important for Indonesia, as most of the population will own a smartphone but no computer. That is why, since the beginning, we focused on developing our app. Right now we have more than 1 million people who have downloaded our app, either on iOS or Android.
How many unique visitors come to your website monthly and what are their demographics?
More than 500,000 monthly visitors, equally distributed between male and female. About 40 percent are between 25 to 34 years of age, with 80 percent between 18 to 44 years of age.
Lamudi Indonesia now has two offices, in Jakarta and Surabaya. Do you have plans to expand further?
Other key markets with our presence are Bandung and Bali. Besides these, we focus on other growth markets such as Makassar, Medan and Balikpapan. But our biggest market is Jabodetabek, which includes the regions around Jakarta that are currently being developed, such as Tangerang.
Lamudi partners with top agencies such as LJ Hooker and Harcourts. How does this B2B relationship work?
From the agency side, they introduce Lamudi online marketing solution to their agents, so that they become members of our platform. From our side we propose a good offer to market the agents’ listings online, while also educating and training the agencies on how to use online for more effective leads generation. There is still a long way to go to reap the full benefits from online marketing, but steadily we create more awareness through gatherings, training sessions and special competitions where the agents can win prizes for their efforts.
What are your targets for 2016?
Establishing ourselves as the preferred partner for our key customers and major developers in Indonesia. Since the market is a bit down at the moment, we want to differentiate by providing innovative solutions that create value to our partners and customers. For property seekers, we want not only to become the marketplace with the most high-quality options, but also ensure that we provide the right suggestions for them.
You publish a quarterly magazine entitled Property Now. Your latest issue discusses the sustainable home. Is this something that is becoming more and more important in Indonesia?
We see that big developers are becoming more aware of the sustainability notion, also as a way to differentiate themselves from competitors. With current congestion and pollution in Jakarta, needless to say this could be a good strategy and attractive to potential property buyers. Hopefully the government will pick up on this also to create special measures for such efforts, as this is a longer-term focus that typically needs support from the government in the interest of the general public and tomorrow’s children of the nation.
You’re optimistic about Indonesia’s property market. Why is that?
Personally, I believe it will take some time for the property market to re-bounce, but the future property growth will be driven by the domestic rising middle class and sustained by a more diversified economy.
Hopefully the government can be more flexible on the taxation of high end property in the meantime, to ensure that enough players will be around for when the time comes to build those houses for the middle class. We saw in the past that it was a similar mistake not to develop more road and transportation infrastructure to anticipate future needs, of which we now all feel the consequences.
What excites you about working in the property industry?
Buying property is a very important decision, involving both rational and emotional aspects. This makes it dynamic and challenging. It is also very pleasant to work with property business partners who co-shaped this country.