Buying and selling a house is always a tricky affair in Singapore.
There are many things to consider, like location, corridor or corner, nearby amenities and of course, price and valuation.
And often, even when browsing property listings online or in newspapers, it's not easy to tell if the information provided is accurate — or, say, if prices might be inflated artificially.
To tackle this, a made-in-Singapore tool is hoping to quickly and easily help with all these things — especially the last point, basing its findings on prevailing concrete market data.
Harnessing AI to predict home prices
For now, the free tool, called UrbanZoom, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide a precise prediction of the price of a specific home, based on its address.
It is so specific, it even requires the house's unit number.
So how does it work?
The site gathers and analyses relevant data such as the completed sales of homes in the vicinity, and uses AI algorithms to give consumers a quick, but also quite comprehensive, rundown of information about the home they search for.
The first piece of info (called the "Zoom Prediction") you'll see is the price that the home you've searched would fetch if it was sold today in the resale market.
The price shown also is broken down into the per-square-foot cost of the house (since at the first screen, you're also asked for the area of the place you're searching for).
Of course this algorithm isn't providing an official appraisal — it just gives you an idea of how much the house *should* be selling for based on concrete sales data from trends over the past five years.
It also comes with a "confidence level" meter, which indicates how sure UrbanZoom is about its price prediction.
Shows nearby MRT stations, hawker centres, bakeries & shops
Designed to be n00b-friendly
From homebuyers to landlords, and even kaypoh kias -- literally anyone can use this tool.
In fact, it is made for your parents, uncles and aunties (we spoke to Michael Cho, who founded this tool, and he said he used his father as a benchmark) so they don't get taken advantage of in the process of home-buying or selling just because they lack access to certain data and insights.
Speaking to Mothership, Cho shared:
"I'm not in the camp of 'all agents are bad'. In fact, I think it's still advisable to get a good agent to represent you. But you shouldn't feel enslaved to your agent just because he/she has more access to insider info."
Besides, it is kind of fun to search the price of random houses in Singapore.
Is this another Singapore property site?
Nope, this is not another Property Guru or 99.co, so you won't be able to, say, make purchase bids or contact sellers through it. As a seller, you can't list your own property with pictures and such for sale either, simply because it isn't a sales portal.
The above-mentioned companies are listing portals, but UrbanZoom is described as a "market intelligence tool" that aims to answer whatever questions you have about a place.
You can probably use it in tandem with the property portals — browsing the listing and looking at pictures of the house, and then comparing its price listing with the prediction from UrbanZoom, as well as its associated findings on recent sales trends, so you have a better idea of what you're getting yourself into.
Or, as a seller, you'll have a good estimation of the value of your property — without looking at the nature of the renovation work you might have done in your home — before you start engaging an agent and listing your home for sale.
In that case, what's the valuation on 38 Oxley Road? Asking for a friend.
Unfortunately, UrbanZoom can only predict the prices of condominiums and HDB flats for now.
But according to the website, support for landed properties will be available very soon.
Top image screenshot via UrbanZoom's website