Turkey’s leading real estate vertical Hürriyet Emlak has cemented its dominant position and is breaking ground with a new business model.
AIM Group chatted to the company’s chief sales officer Çağrı Bozay (Linkedin Profile) about new developments at the marketplace.
AIM: LetGo Turkey entered the real estate market in March. Has this had any impact on your business?
Çağrı Bozay: We knew that LetGo Turkey would enter this market and have been following the company closely. Considering the sector’s dynamics, we don’t think LetGo will be successful in this market, but we’ll stay on high alert.
LetGo’s business model is mainly based on triggering a transaction, based on a photograph. We also thought about this before LetGo entered the market. We conducted some research and while photographs are important, we found that when people search for houses, they’re looking for more details about the property and how to get in touch with the agent. They want to be able to examine a house and chat with real estate agents before visiting a property.
It is hard to do this through an app. Our app traffic, for example, is very low. It makes up only 3 or 4 percent of our overall traffic. This is because people want to view homes on a bigger screen.
We did see interest in LetGo’s real estate section in the beginning, but we don’t think it’s sustainable.
AIM: What do you make of the fact that LetGo is ranked first in the country for used vehicles?
Çağrı Bozay: It is possible that they are successful in the automobile market since it’s so different to real estate. When you want to buy a vehicle, you first look at the price and then its appearance. This isn’t the case for houses. Of course, appearance is important, but what matters more is the property’s location, its number of room and the availability of natural gas, etc.
AIM: Websites dedicated to new developments are very popular in Turkey nowadays, why do you think that is?
Çağrı Bozay: I am not saying this because Projeland is ours, but there isn’t another local site using serious algorithms and a completely different value position in its business models. Projeland’s greatest quality is that it’s a rising star like its partner Homsters.
AIM: Can you tell about Homsters?
Çağrı Bozay: Homsters is a Ukraine-based start-up. They created a success story in Kazakhstan and have now entered the Hungarian market. It is absolutely a rising star. Why did we establish a partnership with them? The greatest quality of Homsters, as I stated before, is that they work with very serious algorithms for perfect matching.
AIM: How do you do that?
Çağrı Bozay: What we call perfect matching in the real estate sector is being able to match the right projects with the right people. How do we do that? First of all, you must be able to somehow guess the money they have in their pockets. Secondly, you must be able to guess where they search for projects. The third point is that you must be able to guess what their dream is. You can always do these based on authorized data.
Homsters’ advantage is that it collates this authorized data, converts it with artificial intelligence, shows each person a more personally customized project and therefore ensures higher conversions for them. Real estate companies can, therefore, attract people to their sales offices more quickly in a way that is more independent from other sales channels.
We’ve also set up an operation team that personally calls users to ask a couple of questions to better understand their buying intention. We also ask if they’re interested in other developments to guide them to alternatives. In other words, we offer consultancy. We make the first contact with customers and send construction companies high-quality leads. This is a rare opportunity for them as we sift through buyers to pick out those who are actually interested. Around 90 percent of the forms we send out convert to sales office visits.
This model that is being implemented for the first time in Turkey and is already in high demand from construction companies.
Our developments page also offers a credit system. Developers pay a monthly publication fee for listing their new developments but can elect to pay for more marketing. They can pay a balance to Hürriyet Emlak and these fees are then deducted as a credit, ensuring they don’t overspend on their marketing budget.
We achieved 6-7 times of the figure we budgeted for in the first 7-8 months — the developments porject is growing much faster than we thought it would.
AIM: Can you explain the “World of Gains” model?
Çağrı Bozay: 80 percent of our income comes from real estate agents. These real estate agents are our customers and our greatest assets. Most people complete their house-hunting process with real estate agencies.
What do people look for? They look for service providers who can help with moving and maintenance, as well as furniture and appliances. We could actually easily sell these at the real estate agency with extra benefits. What happens if we do? First, we create a very strong sales channel that is an alternative for the brands we sell. We would be able to solve problems using complimentary sectors. These could be discounts on furniture from Ikea or home internet from TurkCell, but the transaction must take place via the Hürriyet Emlak platform.
The “world of gains” model must benefit the real estate agents. To do that, we offer commision on sales.
We try to make real estate agent earn something so that they can insist on this issue and help their customers. Therefore, we can give commission to the real estate agent and extra discounts or benefits to the customer.
We’ve already implemented this model through annual agreements with brands who offer discounts to our users in exchange for using our communication channel.
AIM: How is it going, are real estate agents satisfied?
Çağrı Bozay: The model is very good, but its biggest problem is that the main motivation of real estate agents is to sell or lease houses — which is why we started slowly. Some brands are doing better than other. We’ve tried to overcome this by not just leaving sales to estate agents. They are now triggered by end-users as well.
Our purpose is to encourage end-users to inquire about complementary services, even if the agent doesn’t bring it up. We currently have agreements in place with ProNet (security), TurkCell (internet), Filli Boya (painting), Armut (shipping), Ikea (decoration), and Hafele (white goods and decoration).
AIM: How did Hürriyet Emlak reach one million listings?
Çağrı Bozay: This is related to the number of real estate agents or consultants you work with. We are one of the leading companies in the sector that values and cares about clear, direct and transparent listings. In fact, we are the only website that has a dedicated customer care line. We investigate all reported complaints.
We also run a software program that lets us track agents’ activity. That way, if an agent is posting fewer listings than they’ve bought, we can contact them to find out why they haven’t added more listing and offer customer support.
We’re more concerned about the quality and accuracy of our listings than numbers.
AIM Group: How’s your traffic?
Çağrı Bozay: Everyone’s traffic decreased this year. People’s approach to finance is changing, but we’re in a good place to start reaping the rewards of our investment.
Our conversions have increased significantly — a result of our focus on quality rather than traffic quantity.
While we still do work around SEO and increasing traffic, we’ve set “clicks to calls” as a KPI. This is the most important metric for our business model. Its impossible for our business to grow if we can’t make an agent’s phone ring.
AIM: Lastly, Doğan Holding sold many of its companies, why wasn’t Hürriyet Emlak included?
Çağrı Bozay: When you compare Hürriyet Emlak’s growth rate to the economy over the last three years, we’re seeing more than double-digit growth. We’re going dramatically every year, in terms of both income and real estate agents. This has proven to the group that we are a precious asset in a time of digital investments. In other words, the group’s ROI for Hürriyet Emlak is very high.
Our 5-year plan is to sustain this double-digit growth and become an important player in the real estate market in Turkey and abroad.