May 19, 2011

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Could Group Buying Work in Real Estate?

Many of our readers will already be signed up to some kind of group buying website, whether it’s the giant Groupon or one of its many smaller cousins. These websites work by offering big savings on products and services for a limited time, relying on sheer volume of sales to make up for the discount. But can this model work in the real estate industry, where deals take months and price tags are much higher than your average gourmet dinner or spa treatment?

That’s the question US real estate agent Tigue Bonneval started asking himself last year, after witnessing the phenomenal rise of group buying sites. The answer he came up with was HouseTipper, which offers savings on real estate transactions as soon as there are enough buyers signed up to “tip” the deal. We spoke to Bonneval to find out just how feasible this idea is.

How does HouseTipper work?

Bonneval explains that agents working on the selling side can offer a discount, and on the buying side they can offer a “deal sweetner” such as a free home inspection. “An agent can put her credentials up on the site, then set the parameters of the fine print to make it only apply to a certain neighbourhood or certain house values,” Bonneval says, adding that the various advertising rules of each US state are being kept in mind.

“Right now we’re running deals for three to seven days,” Bonneval goes on to say. “The longer time allows people who see the deal to call up the agent, find out more, schedule a meeting and figure out whether or not it’s something they want to do.”

How can agents make sure their deal “tips”?

The HouseTipper model means users can only take advantage of a deal if enough people buy that particular voucher, which gives them an incentive to promote the deal to their network. But HouseTipper also gives agents the tools to promote their own deals.

“Agents are used to buying ads and crossing their fingers to get phone calls,” says Bonneval. “On our site, they actually get to roll up their sleeves and use the discussion boards and promotional videos, have people call them - we even have a uStream video option where an agent can sign on during the last two hours and talk about themselves. So at the end of the day, it’s the dealmaker that will have to close their own deal.”

“We also send the deal out to our email list, which is small right now but will be getting bigger,” Bonneval adds. “If agents don’t want to promote a deal within their immediate network, we’re working with people to help promote through Google AdWords and Facebook Ads to drive traffic to the deal page.”

How will the group buying model help agents?

Bonneval says one of the ways HouseTipper helps agents is in providing high-quality leads. “These are not the leads agents have bought in the past that turn out to be worthless. These people are buying you, so they’re not random leads.”

The other big advantage is cost, or lack thereof. “The merchants on our site will never have to pay anything out of pocket,” says Bonneval. “All we ask them to do is offer a great deal. HouseTipper provides them with a completely new platform to get their name out there - basically it’s a way for them to sell themselves.”

HouseTipper is still in startup mode, looking for investors and syndication partners to help promote its deals. However, Bonneval predicts plenty of growth over the next few months. “We hope that this will do a little bit to reinvigorate the market in some ways, and get people off the fence,” he concludes.


Related posts:

  1. Real Estate Tech Roundup 15/4/2011
  2. Google Real Estate – Should Agents Bank On It?
  3. Real Estate Tech Roundup
  4. Ray White Sells REA Group Shareholding
  5. Real Estate Tech Roundup 29/4/11
  6. The Challenges for Google Real Estate
  7. Franchising the Virtual Real Estate Office
  8. Real Estate Tech Roundup



  1. [...] Chicago-based brokerage Dream Town Realty began using group buying website Groupon to promote its services, offering US$1,000 cash at closing for $25. Another business working on establishing a group buying model for real estate is HouseTipper. Read our interview with the co-founder of HouseTipper here. [...]

  2. [...] and the page is full of details, testimonials, and even a video to help promote Paul Gorney. In an interview, HouseTipper’s creator, Tigue Bonneval, explains that the site’s promotional tools allow [...]

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