Properati is an Argentina-based real estate platform that has revolutionized the way people buy, sell and rent real estate in Latin America. They’ve transformed the traditional Latin American ad-based, pay-for-play real estate marketing model with a cross-platform, user-friendly web and mobile app solution that combines enhanced search, data insights, and instantaneous communications for quick, meaningful connections between sellers and seekers.
“Our business model is to add value to people searching for a home, which can be stressful, especially in Latin America,” said Martin Sarsale, co-founder and CTO. “We add data to the leads that realtors receive, so they can close deals faster. And we provide relevant content for buyers, such as the neighborhood character, schools, nearby parks, subway lines. This approach to real estate marketing online is not common in Latin America at all.”
Launched in 2013, Properati lists more than 2 million properties in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. Built into the framework for their success is the ability to connect sellers and home seekers quickly through Twilio Chat functionality, dramatically improving sales conversions by more than 30%.
In the world of real estate, timing is everything. The team at Properati recognized early on that relying primarily on email and contact forms was creating a very real disconnect between buyer and sellers. “We track and follow everything in our business,” said Sarsale. “Email is a ‘fire and forget’ back and forth technology. We found that while most buyers open an email within the first hour of contact, realtors may not open an email until 12 hours after contact.”
As a result, realtors were overflowing with a huge backlog of contacts and little data to know which leads were serious. For buyers, 12 hours without a response often meant moving on to the next potential property. The process of communication was antiquated and excruciatingly slow—leading to missed connections and lost closures.
Properati knew that integrating chat functionality into their platform would get agents and buyers talking in real time. What they didn’t want to do was build an entire chat infrastructure. They wanted an SDK that could easily integrate into web, iOS and Android apps, and they needed it to be mobile ready so realtors could respond quickly, no matter where they were. And they wanted to centralize and capture insights that would speed the close between buying and selling.
Their first foray into chat technology was with a tiered-pricing chat solution that worked during development but couldn’t stand up to the high volumes they were experiencing after launch. “We had a lot of problems, such as delayed push notifications and other technical issues we couldn’t resolve. We had been using the free tier, but for us, having to move to the next level of the plan was too expensive,” said Sarsale.
They discovered Twilio through NXTPLabs, an accelerator in Buenos Aires. When the Twilio team presented on Twilio SMS and Programmable Chat, the team at Properati realized “all of the pain points we were experiencing were already solved with Twilio’s features.”
“We needed to do things with Programmable Chat that we were not able to do with our previous solution,” said Lucas Tolchinsky, developer at Properati. “We had to create logic around our previous solution’s limitations, but Twilio is much simpler. We asked a lot of questions to understand Twilio’s platform and how it works. We liked their support, APIs and SDK; it all worked really well for us. The alpha version took about a month and a half development time total but we were able to fit the use case right into the platform.”
‘The Twilio support team is excellent. We’re in touch with them daily and weekly—if we have specific questions or ID bugs, they respond within hours,” said Tolchinsky.
With Twilio Chat, our sales process is much shorter. In the past what used to take at least 4 emails over several days, can now be covered in a single chat.
Properati uses both live chat and automated chatbots to connect buyers and sellers quickly through their Chaterix product. The chatbot is the first step, enabling users to quickly plug in preferences and contact info. “We wanted to help users be able to do quick tasks, like adding their name and other info, and have the chatbot quickly come back with property suggestions and prompts to contact the seller directly,” said Tolchinsky.
From there, the buyers and sellers can start talking in real time through live chat. The Twilio Chat functionality automatically limits the chat to the first seller that accepts it. Tolchinsky noted, “Twilio Chat is able to get webhooks before each step in the decision chain. Our previous chat software couldn’t get webhooks and were just sending messages to the client and seller. New chats meant booting others off the platform. WIth Twilio, only the buyer and the first seller are allowed to join. It’s much easier and more streamlined.”
The chatbot captures more information about interested buyers to give realtors higher quality leads as well as chat transcripts to provide insights not accessible through contact forms. “We share data captured through the chatbot with the realtors so they can understand behavior of person. And we’re able to use webhooks during each chat conversation, so we can easily build transcript for conversations. Our realtors get a lot of value out of getting transcripts,” said Tolchinsky.
“We can focus on delivering more value to our customers. For instance, with Twilio, we’re able to give agents prepopulated answers to certain questions and help users get personalized suggestions about properties,” said Sarsale. “We can deliver a lot of data that goes beyond the standard contact info and address of property a buyer might be interested in. We provide visitor use data, such as how long a prospect has been on the site, how many change to inquiries they’ve made, what neighborhoods they’re interested in, and more.”
They also leverage “reachability indicators” to alert customers if their realtors are on or offline. “This is
important for our clients because if no realtor is reachable, buyers looking for a chat won't have anyone to talk to. Currently we send our customers an email to warn them, but we plan to integrate more sophisticated alerts,” said Tolchinsky.
The results for Properati were immediate. Using the chat applications, realtors are seeing 30% more closings than with traditional email leads, and are seeing more leads in general, both from contact forms and chats.
The conversion rate from their landing pages has doubled, and on average a five minute chat can be as informative as four back and forth emails between buyers and sellers.
Sarsale noted that they were initially concerned about prospects using the chatbot instead of contact forms, but they discovered that chatting brought more conversions. While home seekers who complete the forms are typically early on in their home buying process, chat buyers are more engaged and provide a higher conversion rate. In Brazil, where Properati has the most clients, they have seen a 30% higher lead-to-sales conversion from chat compared to email. And they found that their customers are willing to pay more for chat leads, knowing that the transcripts of conversations give more information, and that buyers stop researching other options once they get a response.
As Properati looks to expand and consolidate its regional presence in key South American markets, they’ll continue to develop their marketing solution with new features and functionalities. Sarsale notes that the next version will add voice capabilities to seller applications, click-to-call, notifications and other channels.