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TRANSCRIPT: National Property Group – Joe Rossi: The 60 Year Old Start Up

Kylie Davis

Welcome to the Proptech podcast. It's Kylie Davis here and I'm delighted to be your host as we explore the brave new world where technology and real estate collide. It's so great to have you here and to share stories of innovation and opportunity across real estate, property and building services. And the aim of each episode is to introduce listeners to a Proptech innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what's possible across how we design, build, buy, sell, rent and invest in property and all of the associated behaviour and activities around that. Now, none of this would be possible without our sponsors, so a big shout out to the Direct Connect team, making moving, easy, dynamic methods, the innovators behind the forms, live and RealWorks forms, and the Proptech Association of Australia. Thank you for your support of the podcast. My guest in this episode is Joe Rossi, the national sales and go to market director of the property data provider National Property Group.


Kylie Davis

National Property Group connects Australian property professionals with ready to use property data, marketing and sales platforms to power strategic business growth. They have a long heritage in the property industry for those with long memories. They were born out of EAC and Red Square, which makes them, as they state, a 60 year old startup. Now, there's a thing, but they launched a National Property Group in 2020 and now boasts 12 million property records, 107,000,000 property images and 250,000,000 records on sales and lease listings, plus an API that is open and affordable for Proptechs to experiment with. So, here to tell us all about it, Joe Rossi from National Property Group. Welcome to the Proptech podcast.


Joe Rossi

Thank you, Kylie.


Joe Rossi

It's great to see you again, Joe. And for our listeners, a little bit of background. Joe and I worked together at CoreLogic, like over five, six years ago now.


Joe Rossi

But it was five years were talking just the other day, it was five years since Frank left and I think you.


Joe Rossi

Okay. Awesome. So you haven't changed a so, but let's focus on National Property Group now because you've gone on to bigger and better things. What's? The National Property Group elevator pitch.


Joe Rossi

Look, it's really easy. We're trying to make our data available to people that are interested in property and are trying to either use property for their own personal insights or help their customers. And one of the biggest things that we say is that we're truly independent. We don't care about your application. So we'll actually create that. We have the data lake and we're going to make it available to people.


Joe Rossi

That National Property Group is a property data provider, to the real estate to real estate agents or investors or all of the above.


Joe Rossi

I think the best way is all of the above. So, firstly, our platform for real estate agents and investors and developers and all people that want to know about property, but then the data lake, which know APIs for people that want to enhance their websites or want to use the data to help them make decisions.


Joe Rossi

Okay, cool. So why would I choose National Property Group over other data providers out there? Because it's a pretty crowded space, isn't it?


Joe Rossi

It sure is. And look, it's interesting because where do we fit? How does a new player on the market? We're not really new. We're actually a 60 year old startup. So for the people that will remember probably of my age, kylie remembers EAC and Red Square. So when you look at EAC being there at 1960s with their Realtor magazine and continuing all the way through with their product called Red Square for a data platform, it was really a New South Wales based cooperative sitting with the ownership, with members not for profit owned by real estate agents. Now of course, we know in this industry once you get a whole bunch of real estate agents together, try and make a decision on investment and go forward together. So the founder bought out the data platform first and then demutralized the EAC. So it's not a state agents cooperative anymore, it's state agents community.


Joe Rossi

Okay, so who owns National Property Group now?


Joe Rossi

So it's a private company. The founder is Gary Blom and then there are well, first of all the old cooperative members are shareholders right, okay. Of the company. And then we obviously have some key shareholders as well.


Joe Rossi

Okay. I've heard of a 30 year old startup, which I think is what MRI calls themselves, but I haven't heard of the 60 year old one. So welcome, congratulations on that ground. Everybody wants to be a startup. So what differentiates? National property groups data. How many data points have you got? Give us a feeling for how there.


Joe Rossi

Are some key data points, which is really important. So some really simple ones that make a big difference for our investor pool and our developer pool, which are things like being able to search on Frontage or Photos frontage, as in the distance. So for instance, 25 meters frontage. Okay, so a developer just love that sort of key search points because you've got to work out how many properties I have to filter through to get to one that's not only for sale, but is it right. So they can do this on the site really easily, which amazing enough. And you know, I'm from other data supplies, so I know this, it's so key to some of these people using it. The other one I think is a multilot search. Doesn't sound exciting, but just imagine again, people that are looking to develop a property. So you can see where we're niching here in these spaces is that developers are just coming to us and saying, I really love this multilot search.


Joe Rossi

For people that don't understand that's listening to this is, hey, there's a property that already has two titles. Now they might plonk the property in the middle, but it could be a knockdown. Build two properties without having to go to council, split the property up and do all that cost that's involved in that. So they love that type of data point. So that's one, we have fantastic mapping overlays, so zoning overlays, which a lot of people don't have. There are other Proptechs doing it specifically for developers, but we sort of broaden it to real estate. And then, of course, it's just I call it the standard requirements of any data platform which has been able to search, view photos, see listings, days on market, all those things. Now, how do we position ourselves? Well, look, what we are really doing, Kylie, is to pivot to APIs and let the Prop techs come to us and build their applications, because we are truly agnostic to applications.


Joe Rossi

So if you look at Domain and maybe Proptrack and CL, I'll mention them all, we all know them, right? They all have their own personal applications that they're bringing to market, and a lot of the Proptech will compete against that. And that's what we're finding. So people are coming to us and saying, wow, you don't have a non compete. We can develop this application and we really don't care whether developing a competitive application or something that's adjacent to us.


Joe Rossi

Okay, so you've got the two products, you've got your own data portal, I'm assuming, and then you've got which is the typical reports and searching and things like that an agent or a developer would do. And then you've got the data lake API that other Prop techs out there can hook into.


Joe Rossi

Correct?


Joe Rossi

And how are you monetizing both of those different models?


Joe Rossi

So, again, it's quite simple. It's call rates or it could be flat fee rates. It depends on their application. So, as an example, we've done one, which is a reseller agreement. So each individual is signed, but the individual that signed the subscription logs into the Proptech's API sorry, application.


Joe Rossi

So single sign on, but then single.


Joe Rossi

Sign on, similar to what we've done, say, with Proptech and Voltare, except the application is quite different to that. So that's one way, and that's like a reseller agreement. How many users have you got on the site? And that works really well for startups because they simply can't afford 10,000 calls.


Joe Rossi

Okay?


Joe Rossi

They come to us as a garage band and we've developed this wonderful and, okay, you want to do 10,000 calls, that's one dollars 50 a call. And they went, we pivot and say, look, as you build your user base, we'll just share. You just resell our product. And as a matter of fact, their users can actually jump into our platform as well.


Kylie Davis

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Kylie Davis

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Joe Rossi

So give us an example. You mentioned vault re before. What does it look like? Or what are some examples of what it can look like?


Joe Rossi

So, look, the Volt re is just your classic data integration into a CRM. And look, all the others do that as well. We just tick that box, our real estate customers. But another example is we have a surveying application. So surveyors actually go out, need data for what they're going out to on site, and this little garage band built it. They're actually a surveying company that's just developed an application for themselves and went, oh, I can sell this to everybody. That's typical, right?


Joe Rossi

It happens a lot. Happens a lot.


Joe Rossi

But they can't afford the calls that they need because what they have to do is they're looking for sites around the area. So it could be 20, 30, 40 calls every time. Suddenly you've got users. So we've just given them their access via our application. Well, our single sign on. So each customer is actually logging in literally with us, but they're just on selling our product. But they get the recent sales, the owner verification, the geospatial stuff that they need, and so on.


Joe Rossi

Cool. So you mentioned before that National Property Group was started out of New South Wales, but obviously the name is National Property Group. So how big is your data set? Sometimes size matters.


Joe Rossi

Absolutely. Look, we both come from data companies. We know how hard it is to create huge data lakes and keep them. And we've seen other companies struggling with this. So we're about to launch SA, which is we've got basically all the other states Tazi's coming Online act we launched about two months ago, and we're about to launch SA. So we're just waiting on Tassie. Who cares about Tassie? No, I shouldn't say.


Joe Rossi

No, don't. We all love Tassie. We love you.


Joe Rossi

We all love Tazzy. I was there twice last year. Fantastic. I love you. Tasmanians. Yeah, well, the problem was that it's very expensive for their ten year back data. It's a commercial arrangement and very few records in comparison to, say, SA or Western Australia. But yeah, look, I think by the end of next quarter, like August will be truly national. The homely arrangement gives us a wealth of listings. It's amazing how much listings they have and how close they are to the other portals. Not with eyeballs, we understand that, but just the listing feeds that they have and that richness of data. You combine that plus the other sources of data, the secret source that everybody has, we really are up there. I'm quite surprised, coming from an incumbent that's been there for 25 years, turn around and say, wow, you actually have quite a lot of data.


Joe Rossi

Yeah, awesome. Just tell me about the relationship with homely. So shout out to the homely guys.


Joe Rossi

Yeah, absolutely. Look, great people to work with. We've got a reciprocal arrangement of data, so we supply them for their websites and their consumer data. We purchase, obviously, feeds of their listing. And it's really quite nice when you're on our platform. Obviously all the on the market details come through and then you can link through to their site as well to see the original ad.


Joe Rossi

Okay, cool. So I'm kind of curious what sparked this 60 year startup? And Red Square and EAC sort of around, but not super visible for a long time. What sparked the latest innovation push or this sort of recent spurt?


Joe Rossi

I think the founder, Gary Blom, saw a space in the market and I scratched my head when I first saw it, so I was asking the same question. And the way we positioned ourselves is when you look at there's woolworths and there's kohl's and then you've maybe got IGA, which is going a little bit local and upmarket, and then you've got Aldi. And what's Aldi doing? Know where you can buy a banana and angle grinder?


Joe Rossi

It's funny because it's true. Yes. And you can buy the best fefanusa for Christmas.


Joe Rossi

And there you go. And you've just described what we're trying to do. We're trying to fit in this market. That's a little bit quirky, but you need us.


Joe Rossi

Okay, so how big is the company now? What's the shape and size of it?


Joe Rossi

Look, the shape and sizes, we're really slim. We're 30 people. We've got tele sales, we've got a BDM up in Queensland that's doing most of the Eng work. I work in a dual role of looking after the larger accounts and as a sales manager, development team, support team. Very slim on the ground, but obviously we'll expand out as we require. But we're ready to rock and roll as far as being national and getting out there. So we've launched in the states that we've got the full data sets.


Joe Rossi

Yep. And just remind us which ones those are.


Joe Rossi

So eastern States and Western Australia. And launching in next quarter for Tassie and SA.


Joe Rossi

Okay. Are you working with Rei with Rewat over in WA or not?


Joe Rossi

No. Look, they've got an exclusive relationship over there, so we know who that's with. They're probably locked for another two or three years. I think what we're trying to do is work cooperatively. That's a hard word with the Reis, but understand that in some ways and something that I haven't mentioned to you with the EAC is we're a forms business.


Joe Rossi

Right. That would upset the Reis. That's what I am understanding.

Joe Rossi

We're an advocacy as well. So we have this membership benefits which says that an agency that's a member, they can ring up and get free legal advice. They can purchase forms from us. Do you believe it or not, we still have and this goes back to the 60 year old company. I've still got a shelf full of forms in the pads that agents still buy from us.


Joe Rossi

Physical. That hurts me. Why are they doing that?


Joe Rossi

And agents still coming in and we try to get rid of it and everybody cried out and said, no, we want our pads that we allow out.


Joe Rossi

Oh, no. There you go. Capture any data from that? You're not can you capture any data from that? You can't?


Joe Rossi

No, not from a physical piece of paper. Unless they send the third copy to us. Right. So these are still carbon sheets, basically.


Joe Rossi

Joe, you have a list of some of the oldest of the most tech resistant agents in.


Joe Rossi

We have a profile called Terry. That's our user profile. Now, Terry's been in the game for 65 years, right. He's just sold his business and he still wants to list and sell in his part time retirement and he still wants to use his pad.


Joe Rossi

Right. One of his granddaughters is assisting him in this or something like that. Okay, got it. Terry. Avatar called Terry.


Joe Rossi

That's the avatar called Terry. And they're the salt of the earth. They've been in the game for so long, they know everything. They know their patch so well. And people just come to them and list and sell that. And you know what's interesting? When I speak to Terry, he's making more money now.


Joe Rossi

With a lot less headaches.


Joe Rossi

I'm diverging a bit and you can cut this out if you like, Kylie. Sorry. Do you remember that survey that you did and you created this beautiful report about what vendors and what buyers think about the real estate industry? It was one of the best reports I'd ever seen. And you made me go up to Queensland and do it at the Ray White Conference or something.


Joe Rossi

All right.


Joe Rossi

I had to stand on stage and present your so oh, yeah, I'm sure he will explain that, you know, nothing's changed in the industry.


Joe Rossi

Well, do you know what? I think maybe we're returning to some of those values that Terry had back sort of that he started out with 65 years ago we kind of went on this little rabbit hole journey of embracing the tech and thinking and adopting scale. But in adopting scale became a little bit too homogeneous and focused on scaling transactions. And now we're coming back to the relationship. Right.


Joe Rossi

Look, and when you talk about the relationship, that's one of the biggest pain points in the real estate industry is they have some massive databases and there are companies out there that are trying to improve those databases and there's lots of them. And if you look at what Nurture Cloud does, what Reader does, they have this perfect understanding of that lifecycle of a customer and the property is static, but people move in and out of that property and you've got these real estate agents sitting on these pile of compost basically, isn't it?


Joe Rossi

Right? Yeah. Piles of newspapers. Sarah Bell says like Hoarding data is like hoarding.


Joe Rossi

Exactly right. One of the things that we like to say is that there's this and again it's agnostic. We can provide these data updates to their data so it's simply match append. It's simply doing these lifecycle changes and then looking at some stats around their performance, like the old market scorecard sort of stuff, but a little bit simpler in respects of, hey, out of all the appraisals you've done last year, here are the people that are still in the database that stealing their properties. Here are the people that have moved on, and these are the people that purchased fix your database guys. And to do it right, yeah. So that's the sort of thing that I've pivoted because for me to chase down Price finder or chase down CoreLogic and then you've got rea coming in for the platform, we're there people can use it, but why would someone change?


Joe Rossi

It's hard to give that value. Prop, we've got those nice little data points that we'll add and keep on adding and that's what we're doing that will bring some people across. But generally those rusted on if you can remember us trying to get people off the old classic version of RP data, right? Took them twelve years and they still haven't done it right. Now they're trying to move off the next version and it'll take them another ten years. Right. Changing behavior is the hardest part of any tech journey anyway, right?

Joe Rossi

Absolutely.


Kylie Davis

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Joe Rossi

So Joe, how have you found it going from a very large provider to a smaller operation. What have been the biggest challenges?


Joe Rossi

The challenges are obviously coming from almost unlimited funding. You can do what you like and having big marketing departments to doing a lot of stuff yourself. Right? So that's the hard part, is hey, building out big teams, which I've always done. Right. I think I had 23 people just in training and customer success right down to two or three people. Quite a different sort of story. But the agility of the team, the way we can actually focus on individual customers and be a little bit more flexible in what we can do, respond to their requirements really quickly without going through a big bureaucracy, which is difficult, and they have to be like that. They just can't take resources and move them around. And that's what we can do as long as we can justify it. And then just being able to pivot and work with different markets has really been a lot of fun for me anyway.


Joe Rossi

Cool. Very cool. So, Joe, what do you see are the trends, the tech trends that are out there that are going to impact what national property groups doing in the.


Joe Rossi

Next couple of come back to this? People understanding their own database and then having the resources to take advantage of it. And there are already players there. And I mentioned those two, and the only reason I mentioned those two is obviously I worked with a company that owned Nurture Cloud for six months, so I really understood what they were doing with that particular piece of tech. And then obviously my observations of Reader and Air and what they did when CoreLogic bought them out. And that's a real understanding of what your database is doing. And those touch points are not just simple touch points, they're really having a lot of information in the back of those touch points. So I think that's where it's going. I'm interested to see what the Pitch documents are doing as well. Right. The realtors, the Hubs and the RP proposals.


Joe Rossi

I think agents are struggling with that piece of technology, the good ones, always. And I think I remember one of your other reports, the adopters, the followers and the Laggards. Do you remember that?


Joe Rossi

Yeah, that wasn't my graph. That wasn't my graph. It wasn't yours? No, I put it in, but I think from memory, it's a gartner graph.


Joe Rossi

But it's a classic, isn't it? And I think the followers are struggling with it because you got to get that really big adoption on it. And when you look at Realtor, they've got some great traction in the market. Pete Matthews a great operator, but when I go out and sit with agents, I hear I'm struggling with it, and sometimes all I want is a list of comparables and my smiley face will get the listing, right.


Joe Rossi

Yeah. So you guys are simplifying that so that you can just do a smiley face.


Joe Rossi

And that's where I see our CMA. If you look at the CMAs out in the market, and that's what we'll call them, pitch documents, CMAs, whatever you want to call them, they're getting so complex and so time consuming. And it's fine when you're boutique and you do two or three listings, but if you're in a volume agency, oh, my God, right? It's really hard.


Joe Rossi

Really? Yeah. So what's the vision for National Property Group? Are you guys looking at developing products off your tech, or are you just hoping to or is your strategy to work with Prop techs out there and see and sort of pick and choose from whoever's doing the most interesting stuff with your data?


Joe Rossi

We are developing our platform and we're putting some great data points through partnerships like climate valuations, lot, search for hazards. We've got the DA applications coming in that's searchable. So our vision is to improve the data points and improve the UI, and we've got a fantastic roadmap there, but in the short term, it's the API and see what these Prop techs are doing. Because when I look at their sites, in particular consumer sites, and so many of them, I think in your map was 478 total, and just in the consumer, there was like 100 and something. Right? So when you look at that, they're all struggling to monetize. They're all struggling to bring people. So my strategy is, hey, I've got a team which is just looking at the APIs and looking at how we can sell data and enhance their yeah.


Joe Rossi

There'S actually 480 now, because after we released the latest version, we found another.


Joe Rossi

Couple, as you do.


Joe Rossi

So a big shout out to HTAG and also to RealFlow Finance, who, for reasons that I cannot explain, got missed off it. But my explanation around that is actually very manual process building that instead of a thing.


Joe Rossi

It is.


Joe Rossi

And a big shout out to Julius Gudero, who has done it and redone it and done it again and designed it up because, oh, my God.


Joe Rossi

Well, I think if anyone argues it just become a member and then you get.


Joe Rossi

Embarrassingly. They were both members, but I think they joined after we had done the first drop.


Joe Rossi

We'll forgive you. We'll forgive you.


Joe Rossi

Big shout out to HTAG and RealFlow Finance to try and offset some of the but they're going on now. They're going on right now. Awesome. Well, look, Joe, it's been absolutely fantastic to talk to you today. Is there anything else that you want to kind of share with us or anyone you want to give a shout out to that you're working?


Joe Rossi

Look, I mean, the industry, when I was with the other the player, I was always insular. And it's amazing when you come out and you talk to so many Proptechs, there's some fantastic people out there that are doing amazing applications. So I'm really excited to be in this space.


Joe Rossi

Yeah, it's a very good community. It's great to be part of.


Joe Rossi

Yeah, well, thanks for the opportunity, Kylie. Really nice.


Joe Rossi

No worries. Awesome. And look, hopefully we will see you at the Proptech Awards, I believe.


Joe Rossi

Yes, I'll get my tucks.


Joe Rossi

Yeah. Good. Yeah, fancy up. I look forward to seeing that. Awesome. Thanks so much, Jo.


Joe Rossi

Thanks, Kylie.


Kylie Davis

So, what do you think about National Property Group? The organization is now being led by another one of my colleagues from CoreLogic, Frank Nez, who is a brilliant operator. So if anyone is going to pull this off, they have a great team to take on this challenging space, because property data is an extremely competitive and increasingly it's being commoditized because it's no longer just CoreLogic and Domain in the space. Realestate.com are now in the market with Proptrack. Reip are working in this space with Velocity and there's rental data with Louis Christopher. The list goes on. There's never been more choice on offer for agents and ways to produce current market appraisals valuations and to understand their patches. And it's not just about the amount of data or the number of records that you have or the reports that you can produce. It's now about the backend data science and the AI that's going into it.


Kylie Davis

I watch this space with a lot of interest. To launch a new property portal, you need very deep pockets so that you can compete on marketing spend of Rea and domain. And I wonder if property data isn't going the same way, except the spend isn't on marketing, it's on data scientists. But National Property data's thinking around prop techs iterating off. Their data could potentially be a way around that. So if you're a Prop tech looking for a data source, reach out to Joe and the NPG team and keep us posted on what you come up with in Australian politics. The Democrats back in the 1970s launched with a slogan that they would quote, unquote, keep the bastards honest. And maybe that's where National Property Group are positioning themselves as that independent data provider that keeps everyone else square. So best of luck to Joe, Frank and the team.


Kylie Davis

Now, if you have enjoyed this episode of the Proptech podcast, I would love you to tell your friends or drop me a line, either via email, LinkedIn or on our Facebook page. You can follow this podcast on Spotify, Google podcasts anchor and Apple itunes. I'd like to thank my podcast producer, the fabulous Charlie Hollins, and our sponsors, direct Connect making Moving Easy, Dynamic Methods, the name behind Forms Live rei forms Live and RealWorks and the Proptech Association of Australia's industry body supporting the flourishing Proptech community. Now, if you're an Australian or a New Zealand Proptech who would like to be on the show, drop me a line via LinkedIn or Kylie@proptechassociation.com Au. Thanks, everyone. Until next time, keep on Propteching.


Kylie Davis

Do you run a proptech business? Or are you the founder of a Proptech? Make sure you join the Proptech Association of Australia. It's Australia's new not for profit association made up of tech people who are passionate about the property industry and committed to improving experiences in how we buy, sell, rent, manage, build and finance property. Joining will give you access to events and networks across Australia and globally. To help you promote and grow your business, go to proptechassociation.com au and follow the prompts to join.