It was a real estate scandal threatening to ruin his career that motivated Queensland entrepreneur Chris Bilborough to launch a startup aiming to give the power back to property owners and buyers.
Every year, Australians spend $10 billion on selling property but a majority of this is fed to real estate agents and advertisers, Bilborough says.
With $1.5 million in seed funding from private investors, the entrepreneur has launched Revalu8, a free platform allowing buyers and sellers to trade directly or via an agent, meaning they can negotiate prices more transparently.
Giving the power back to the people
The startup has been in the works for six years, following a controversial ACCC case against Bilborough.
Though he and his fellow defendants won the case, he says most of his money was lost in court expenses.
“The only reason we won [it] is because we looked after the buyer,” Bilborough tells StartupSmart.
“As real estate agents, you have to do more than what you think.”
Bilborough says this inspired him to create a platform that gives the power back to the buyers.
“Despite winning the test case, I came away thinking there must be a better way of helping people with real estate,” he says.
The beta launch
The beta version of the startup was released this month, and Bilborough says 3000 people and about 300 real estate agents have signed up already.
“I’m excited about it being able to get first home buyers [into the market] years earlier,” he says.
“I’m excited about it being able to get investors a better deal.”
He says power is weiled by license agencies and advertisers in the current real estate sector, who set high commission rates and profit from the sale of other people’s properties.
“How can we inform the buyer of what the real estate agent doesn’t tell you, how can we say whether this property is good or bad for you?” Bilborough says.
To address the problem, he says ReValu8 provides metrics and data to help buyers make well informed decisions when investing in property through comparative analysis of any property for free.
“Not only will users receive instant access to unbiased, comparative information about property based on real figures, but ReValu8 also gives buyers a fair share of fees that would otherwise go towards advertising costs and agent commissions,” he says.
“It becomes very easy for the average person to find out what’s good for them.”
Before listing a property on the site, sellers are encouraged to get it valued by an accredited valuer.
“We only make money if people think properties on our site are better and they go and buy them,” Bilborough says.
The entrepreneur says his startup journey so far has taught him money things, but one is important above all else.
“Keep the buyer in mind,” Bilborough says.
“You have to make it easier and better than the current system.”