Singapore’s UrbanZoom shoots to improve housing market data transparency

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As a tech entrepreneur Michael Cho is of the viewpoint that the public should have equal access to housing market intelligence as the real estate agent, what's more, Cho believes it should be available free of charge.

That was the motivation that drove him to create UrbanZoom - an online artificial intelligence (AI) enabled research portal that includes an auto-valuation tool and other useful transaction data designed to be user-friendly for home buyers and sellers in Singapore.

UrbanZoom is decidedly not a listing portal, since that space is over-saturated, with even the likes of Carousell Pro and Facebook Marketplace having entered the space. This makes it difficult to innovate, value-add or compete on that front, he says.

Rather, one of the main things that UrbanZoom focuses on is its AI engine that automatically spins up a price prediction for a specific home based on its address by relying on more than two decades worth of transactional data, and other macro and micro input variables.

In fact, so confident is the engine in the accuracy of its predictions that it also includes a confidence level with each prediction. The median error rate for HDB and condominium homes is 2.4 per cent - which is "considered close to the theoretical limit because we are valuing the homes without actually going to see them", Mr Cho says.

The error rate would be higher, however, for less frequent transactions such as penthouses. It is obtained by UrbanZoom first creating a prediction model based on earlier data, and then using it to make predictions for more recent transactions and measuring the discrepancy compared to the actual transaction prices, he explains.

Besides auto-valuation, the site will soon also include "big data" sourcing capabilities that help property buyers and sellers answer questions like how long their neighbours took to sell their units, which units in a condominium are facing South for feng shui purposes, and which is the best month in a year to put their homes on the market.ple is where he thinks his calling might be for now.

Read more here.


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