PropertyGuru to step up fintech services as Singapore Unicorn prepares for SPAC merger

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PropertyGuru, Southeast Asia’s largest online real estate marketplace, aims to expand fintech services to meet the growing demand for real estate in the region.

“We plan to continue to innovate and grow,” said Steve Melhuish, co-founder of PropertyGuru, in a recent virtual interview with TUSEN Asia.

The Singapore-based unicorn will focus on growing the business beyond its core property listing business and rolling out ancillary services such as mortgage and home insurance brokerage, and data analytics, Melhuish said.

PropertyGuru unveiled its fintech plans in July after announcing a merger with Nasdaq-listed Bridgetown 2 Holdings, a blank check company controlled by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel. The transaction, which values ​​the combined entity at $ 1.8 billion, is expected to close by year-end or in the first quarter of 2022, Melhuish said. The company will raise gross proceeds of $ 431 million under the deal, providing sufficient capital to pursue both organic and inorganic growth, he said.

There is a huge opportunity across the region, with the company estimating the total addressable market in Southeast Asia at $ 8.1 billion. PropertyGuru expects revenues to reach $ 222.6 million by 2025, up from $ 61.9 million in 2020, supported by its major property listings and fintech activities.

“We see great opportunities in fintech,” says Melhuish. “We have 37 million property seekers who use our services every month. They are looking to buy a property and need financing and related services. “

The fintech service is starting to gain ground in Singapore, its largest market. PropertyGuru has launched a mortgage brokerage product in the city-state at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and more than S $ 1 billion ($ 745 million) in loans in the past 12 months, said the CEO Hari Krishnan. TUSEN Asia.

“Our ability to make $ 1 billion in home loans during Covid is something we are very happy with,” said Krishnan, who was appointed CEO in 2016 after Melhuish stepped down after nearly a decade at the helm. “We’re only scratching the surface. We want to do a lot more in the digitization of loan origination. “

Singapore accounted for 57% of the company’s revenue in 2020, according to PropertyGuru. Demand for housing in the city-state is rising amid expectations that Singapore’s economy will gradually recover as the government eases pandemic-induced restrictions now that more than 80% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Total sales of private homes in Lion City climbed to 16,549 units in the first half of the year, a jump of 139% from the previous year, according to government data.

Melhuish founded the company in 2007 after the apartment he was renting near Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping area went up for sale the year before, leaving him to scramble to find a new home and look into them. newspaper classifieds as there were no real estate listings online at the time. . “It was an extremely frustrating process,” he recalls. This led him to explore the opportunity to launch an online real estate market.

PropertyGuru has since grown into the # 1 single real estate listing platform in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. It hosts more than 2.8 million real estate listings on its digital platform and serves 37 million buyers and more than 49,000 active real estate agents.

In May, the company acquired the REA Group units in Malaysia and Thailand. Under the deal, REA Group, majority owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., will secure an 18% stake in PropertyGuru, which also counts TPG Group and KKR among its existing investors. “The acquisition significantly strengthens our position,” says Melhuish.

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