S'pore property site spins off commercial portal

Local property Web site company launches portal dedicated to commercial properties, and expects to spend S$1 million (US$737,137) before new site rakes in the profits.

SINGAPORE--A local firm has launched a new property portal dedicated to commercial properties, branching it off from its older residential properties Web site. The company executive does not expect the site to be profitable in the next 12 months and will need to spend about S$1 million (US$737,137) before it sees profits.

In a press briefing Wednesday, Steve Melhuish, CEO of Allproperty Media, announced the launch of CommercialGuru, a properties portal listing information of private and public commercial sites available for sale and rent in Singapore and overseas. The site also provides related information such as building directories, daily news updates and an expert question-and-answer section.

According to Melhuish, the site is Singapore's "first and only" one to focus on commercial properties. "We want [CommercialGuru] to become the reference point for commercial property. We plan to invest a significant amount of money not just in terms of how we build the business, but also how we promote it and generate content working with a number of our partners," he said.

On the sidelines, chief marketing officer Winnie Khoo told ZDNet Asia that the site is not expected to be profitable within the next 12 months. She added that the company expects to spend a total of S$1 million (US$737,137) before the site is in the black. The company spent S$300,000 (US$221,141) during the six-month research and IT development period, as well as another S$300,000 on marketing, she said.

CommercialGuru, the third of Allproperty Media's online ventures, grew out of the company's residential properties portal, PropertyGuru, launched in 2006. Prior to the new Web site, there were already 40,000 users on PropertyGuru's commercial properties section viewing 500,000 pages per month, Melhuish said. Khoo noted that the company aims to triple that number in the next few months.

The company bets on innovation to grow its business and to beat its competitors. Quoting figures from Hitwise, Melhuish said PropertyGuru is "about four to five times larger than its nearest competitor based on the time spent on the Web sites".

The company launches a new service "every one or two months" for PropertyGuru, as well as enhances the usability and content of the site, he said.

He pointed out to a Facebook app which allows agents to share their listings on their social network page, as well as an Apple iPhone app for users to search properties.

"We recognized that we can't be complacent and will carry on innovating," he said. "We'll continue to analyze the market to identify new opportunities."

Allproperty Media also owns LoanGuru, a Web site that allows users to compare mortgage packages from different banks.

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