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A Clever Tool For Property

What do you want to know about a property? Chances are, Relab can tell you.

8 October 2021

In partnership with Relab.

Buyers and sellers, agents, property developers, and investors are all heading to Relab to get a wealth of information in one place.

The innovative property platform was started four years ago by a couple skilled in technology and data-crunching, as a side-hustle.

Since then, it’s become a one-stop-shop research tool for professionals, homeowners and buyers, says chief executive Knight Hou.

Their Relab platform brings together the key things you want to know about a property – what it’s worth, what school zone it’s in, what it says on the title, any covenants stopping you doing what you want with it, underground services, recent resource and building consents, and whether it’s worth your while developing the land.

The site’s subdivision feasibility calculator will even tell give you an estimate of how much it’ll cost to build on the site.

Buyers needed help

Hou says the website started with a practical purpose.

“My co-founder Leon Hong was going through the experience of buying his first home.

“He had no prior experience, and no one to help him, so we came up with the idea of consolidating all the information that’s very hard to find into one, independent platform.”

Hou says they soon discovered there were other common pain points for people searching for property information scattered in many different places. So, they fixed them.

“It started with school zone information, but then we found that buyers and sellers were both curious to know the value of a property – the real market value, not the CV.”

So, the pair started using algorithms and machine learning to predict the market value of a house at any given time, by comparing it to other houses of that type in the area.

Use data, not emotion

“For ordinary Kiwis, their home is their number one asset,” says Hou.

“But when you look at how people are making their investment decisions, you’ll find that not many have a very robust methodology.

“You can ask them, what’s your net yield when it comes to buying a house?

“They’ll say, ‘I don’t know, I just like the house and I love the area’.”

Now they can make a more informed decision.

Half a million addresses

Word has spread and Relab’s popularity grew, quickly reaching 35,000 users. And Relab’s data coverage has now topped half a million addresses in Auckland, says Hou.

Over the Covid lockdown last year, Relab’s team, now grown to four, realised their project was gaining momentum and quit their jobs to work fulltime on it, developing a sustainable Software as a Service (SaaS) business model as their growth strategy.

“Icehouse Ventures helped us, along with angel and institutional investors, so we’re now fully funded for the next 12 to 18 months,” says Hou.

“We raised a million dollars before Christmas, so we’re able to hire and grow the team.”

As demand grows, the team is always adding new features that their customers need, says Hou.

A feature for developers

Relab’s newest product is called Advance Search Insights (ASI). It’s tailored to developers looking for their next project.

“A developer might find a three-bedroom villa on TradeMe, but it won’t tell you the other information you need to make a development choice, like what’s on the title, whether it’s freehold or cross-lease, or what the zoning is,” says Hou.

“ASI lets you search for your criteria. What’s the minimum land size? You can choose that.

“And we’ve came up with our own matrix, called LV, which is the ratio of the land as part of the overall CV.

“You can search for a high ratio. That’ll show that it’s a large piece of land, but the house on it is old or not worth that much. Suddenly you’ve hit a goldmine.”

Another growing area is demand from architects wanting to help clients do their own research. Clients use Relab to do most of the initial due diligence work before they approach a professional, such as an architect or planner.

Informed Investor’s content comes from sources that Informed Investor magazine considers accurate, but we do not guarantee its accuracy. Charts in Informed Investor are visually indicative, not exact. The content of Informed Investor is intended as general information only, and you use it at your own risk.

Informed Investor's content comes from sources that Informed Investor magazine considers accurate, but we do not guarantee its accuracy. Charts in Informed Investor are visually indicative, not exact. The content of Informed Investor is intended as general information only, and you use it at your own risk.

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