With different property listing sites available right now, where property hunters would engage with, the market is still a vast opportunity for new companies to present and be a service to new customers who are looking for places that they can call their own. Flashpoint is the premier Philippine real estate auction platform, 100% curated and broker-verified. It is the only property auction available online which makes it easier for buyers and sellers to do their biddings and transactions within a few easy steps.
“We are focused on getting the deals done online when most of the other sites only act as a bulletin board now,” said Flashpoint’s Chief Strategist, Carlos Garcia, who is responsible for and led the direction and strategy of Flashpoint. He formed the founding group that took the concept from the drawing board and made it a reality. His vision has been to leverage tech to bridge the gap arising from limitations of the real estate market, empowering stakeholders–sellers, buyers, renters, and brokers alike.
Before Flashpoint, Carlos started in finance, with over six years split between Swiss bank UBS in New York and investment bank BDO Capital in Manila. Midway through his career at blue chip corporations, he took an opportunity to switch to the opposite side of the negotiating table. Whereas his role as a banker in capital markets thus far was to facilitate financial solutions to support top corporates’ expanding businesses, Carlos sought to gain wider perspective by joining Ayala Corp., the Philippines’ oldest business house.
Realization to become different and impactful
“Most of the negotiations and transactions still happen traditionally offline. With ours, we hold the entire auction online, and as a matter of fact, you can close any deals online. It’s only when we realize we can do something different that would be relevant and really resonate with real estate buyers and sellers. That’s when we decided to go forward. We wanted to do something different that would have an impact,” Carlos added and explained to us how Flashpoint started during our online conversation.
Flashpoint is the first property auction platform in the country, entirely online that is backed by industry professionals and verified sellers. Every property on Flashpoint is hand-picked by a team of professionals. From price to quality, the listings on their catalog are worth a closer look.
“We decided to build Flashpoint around the auction mechanism because we believe it’s the most efficient method of pricelist covering. We are not the first to offer property auctions in the Philippines, you have the foreclosure auctions with the banks and several offline sites, but we are the first to offer online. Why we see that it’s key to offering it online is, in one word, access. The more broadly accessible it is to the real estate market, as a whole, the more participants you have, the better the pricing discovery you can have,” continued Carlos.
Aside from better price lists, Flashpoint also helps clients to save time with their fact-checked listings. Flashpoint’s licensed Philippine real estate brokers sift through dead-ends and misinformation before it’s listed on the website. The online auction also minimizes tedious legwork and maximizes efficiency. With Flashpoint’s bidding system, clients get the optimal price, entirely online. Electronically pay reservation fees and digitally sign terms, only on Flashpoint.
Flashpoint simplifies the unnecessary steps through its web platform and holds the auction every last Friday of the month
“We hold the auction over one weekend and we do it every last Friday of the month. It starts on a Friday and by Monday, all bids are closed. Whoever has the highest bid, provided they reached the reserved price, wins,” Carlos explained.
“By consolidating the auction into a once-a-month thing, it’s easier for buyers to compare side by side, and they can see our entire line-up of 12 or 20 listings. In that regard, it becomes more of a “once a month auction event” rather than focusing their attention when it is scattered,” he added.
Real estate property as a good investment
“Real estate has always been a stable investment, tried and tested. It’s a safer investment in the long run, especially in the Philippines where it always appreciates,” said Head of Operations, Licensed Broker, Catherine Ocariz. Price appreciation in real estate refers to the increase in the value of a real estate property over a period of time. One of the goals of investing in real estate is to get a positive return on the investment when the investor decides to sell the property in the future.
From 2012, Catherine has been gaining traction in the Real Estate Industry in the Philippines as she tries to revolutionize the old ways of dealing with local realty using her extensive marketing background and networks. She is a licensed Real Estate Broker establishing her own brokerage firm Guanxi Real Estate then moving on to become Philippine’s Managing Director for SQFT Global Properties, the exclusive affiliate of Singapore Christie’s International Real Estate.
Catherine leads Flashpoint’s business development and oversees operations. She co-founded Flashpoint and upholds its strict execution standards. A licensed Professional Real Estate Broker with a decade of experience in the industry, she established her own brokerage in her twenties and moved on to become SQFT Global Properties Philippines Managing Director. She has also served as President for City of Taguig Real Estate Board (CTREB).
“With real estate, it’s a physical and tangible property that you own. In my opinion, real assets always have a long-term value because of the scarcity of land and space. It makes sense both ways, you can both use it and use it as a speculative investment,” added Carlos.
How Flashpoint thrives during the pandemic?
“Whether it’s pandemic or not, people still need a place to call home. A lot of expats have been repatriated during the pandemic, and you’re going to see very attractive deals coming out in the market. A lot of our clients are actually seeing a very opportunistic place to purchase and acquire these real assets and hold on to it for speculative gains,” Carlos answered. Catherine also mentioned that the pandemic hasn’t greatly affected the real estate industry as compared to the Age of Financial Crisis that occurred between 2007 and 2009. “This is really the time to look into these (investment) opportunities,” she said.
Now, aside from the Incredible finds on their Auction page for property to buy, Flashpoint makes sure that all the transactions are safe and secure during the process for both the buyers and sellers. Flashpoint’s mission is to make real estate accessible to everyone through good information and process.
“One of the things that sets Flashpoint apart from all of the listings, is that all single listings on our site have been vetted by real estate professionals. Because it’s auction based, we really take it upon ourselves to vet each one and do our due diligence not just looking at the property but basically inspecting the titles as well. In the future, we will likely expand our listings but we will not relax our stringent standards. We only have a handful of sellers, maybe a dozen, but that’s because we spent a lot of time vetting them. We even take the photos and walk-thru videos ourselves so that there will be no misrepresentations,” Carlos shared to us.
“Because it’s a monthly thing, we talk and meet with our clients and schedule their participation in our auction based on their urgency to sell the properties,” added Catherine.
Flashpoint vs traditional brokerage firms
“Going to Flashpoint versus a regular brokerage means getting a lot of contactless, pandemic-friendly transactions. We allow scheduling for open-house on our website. For the clients, it lets them line all of their viewings up into one day. In traditional brokerages, they will schedule you for a day and they will take you around to like 5 to 6 buildings which is normal to view around. But it could have minimized the time and effort required from the client had you just shown a bit of photos or even a walk-thru video. It’s more time efficient. Even with the earnest money, we accept payment electronically on our website. You can pay by credit card or upload a deposit slip. And as a matter of fact, when you win the auction as a bidder, you can even sign on the legal terms of the sale on our website as well. This is something we feel strongly about making it easier to transact,” Carlos told us how Flashpoint is unique from other real estate platforms in the Philippines, giving their clients better value for their real estate needs.
Making personal information private
“There is personal information involved, and it’s simply because we need that information in order to identify clients for the purposes of the auction. We never use that information with any third-parties, we never had an agreement. Your identity, meaning your name and picture are never revealed on our website. That’s always kept private. We understand also that purchasing assets of this amount can be a highly sensitive thing so we are protected at all costs. What ends up happening when you bid on a property in an auction on Flashpoint, is you are assigned with an avatar. Your name is never revealed, you simply go by your avatar,” said Carlos.
“In terms of safeguarding the data, we adhere to best practices. As a matter of fact, our CTO basically makes sure that there’s a lot of best practices when it comes to end-to-end encryption and even the database storage so that we are protected from cybersecurity hackers,” he explained to us.
One more thing that is unique to Flashpoint is that they offer another method of buying properties called the Direct Offer wherein buyers can offer a one time “take it or leave it” offer. This method, once approved by the seller, the auction is pre-terminated, allowing for the buyer to get his first dibs access and win the bidding instantly. “A client can offer a slightly higher or slightly lower offer. And as long the seller accepts the Direct Offer, we totally pre-terminate the auction,” added Carlos.
The website is mobile responsive which makes it easier for clients to do their transactions online. Overview, there are only four steps to follow on the platform to get started and finish the deal.
Step 1: Explore
Find the right deal for rent or sale on Flashpoint’s online catalog of broker-verified listings.
Step 2: Bid
Join competitive bidding in minutes by setting your ceiling; Flashpoint auto-defends your target price.
Step 3: Close
Flashpoint notifies you to lock in the deal online with Flashpoint’s Property Purchase Agreement.
Step 4: Receive
Licensed, professional brokers execute to get the paperwork on the property to the finish line.
Real estate in technology-driven post-pandemic future
“The pandemic has pushed everyone to really accept technology as part of transactions. When real estate has always been lagging in terms of technology, it has always been a traditional industry. Because of this pandemic it forced a lot of traditional mindsets to open their minds to conduct online. It’s very timely that we got this platform now during the pandemic. Also in that sense, the pandemic is also affecting owners and sellers wanting to dispose of their properties in a more efficient way, and we provide that platform. So, I guess in the next two years, we expect this to pick up and it is aligned on how market predictions are going, which is involving technology. Secondary market is going to be a very active market in terms of movement of assets compared to the pre-selling market. The activities have picked up mainly because again, during a crisis, you tend to dispose of your assets,” said Catherine.
“We’re trying to be innovators to achieve what has not been achieved in the market before. I think with our price transparency and moving on closing deals online, we feel like these two simple things would be very impactful with the market because by making it easier to do business we are levelling up the market for real estate in the Philippines. We hope and we are working hard as Flashpoint to make it, so that we reach that quick and painless in terms of real estate transactions whether it be through price discovery or submitting documents; or even a simple as just being able to reliably compare listings against each other. We are hoping to make a positive difference there,” said Carlos.