The latest move from Ontario to Vancouver? HouseSigma.
CEO Joseph Zeng walks us through the company’s expansion to B.C. and beyond.
7851 Broadmoor Boulevard is a single-family home in Richmond. It boasts 3,611 square feet, six bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, along with a three-car garage. Have hoop dreams? Perfect. There’s a basketball net out front. The list price? $1,990,000. But even if you have a budget of $2 million—a lot of money but not unreasonable for the Vancouver suburb—you’re likely out of luck. Here, let me show you my math in two simple steps.
1. Open up the site for HouseSigma.
Founded in 2019 in Toronto, the company sets out to solve the holy trinity of home purchasing conundrums: when to buy and sell, where to buy and sell, and how much to buy and sell for. Its platform seeks to combine machine learning and statistics to offer insights that previously weren’t accessible to consumers. Whereas most real estate sites only show the list price of a home, HouseSigma estimates what the property may actually sell for—or, why 7851 Broadmoor Boulevard is likely not within a $2 million budget.
For CEO and co-founder Joseph Zeng, HouseSigma is in place to better equip people making the biggest purchase of their life. He recalls the first time he witnessed his family pull out their cheque book for a down payment. As an engineering student at U of T, he was alarmed by the lack of data for real estate. Data was all around him as an engineer and in his post-grad gig working in machine learning for Bell.
After two failed entrepreneurial attempts, the third time seems to be the charm. HouseSigma currently sees roughly a million active users per month. “The biggest premise here is to build a comprehensive database that equips consumers to answer those three key risk questions,” Zeng says. That database is filled with up to 19 years of transaction histories that, when combined with HouseSigma’s machine learning, create an estimated sale price users can arm themselves with. It’s all in the name of “a more informed and confident decision when it comes down to finding your next dream home,” he summarizes.
In addition to the unique estimated price feature, Zeng points out some other key differences as to how the HouseSigma toolkit compares to competitors like local company REW. Firstly, the platform aims to provide insights not just for specific properties but for the overall market. A popular function is the Neighborhood Market Trend. It can tell, at a hyper-local level, whether it's a seller's market, a balanced market or a buyer’s market.
Zeng also touts that HouseSigma is a mobile-first experience. He says 90 percent of HouseSigma consumers are using the company’s mobile app. “They are checking listings through their lunch break or before they go to bed—the two highest usages across the day. On mobile, it becomes so easy for you to look up information. When you walk down the street, and you see some listings, you can just pull out the app on your phone and start looking for relevant information,” Zeng points out.
With House Sigma now in Greater Vancouver, those searches happen before bed in Burnaby or on lunch breaks in Strathcona, not just when walking Queen Street West. In expanding from Toronto to Vancouver, Zeng is actioning a lofty growth plan for the company. He seeks to make HouseSigma a thought leader in the Canadian real estate market. The expansion will eventually stretch from coast to coast. For now, the west coast will have to do. And according to Zeng, it’ll do just fine.
“Vancouver is the natural next step for us. We foresee building a very strong local engineering and operations team in B.C.,” Zeng predicts. “And on the real estate side, the timing is just right. There are a lot of bidding wars in the Vancouver area, similar to Toronto. So our toolkit is really going to help consumers to navigate this very competitive space with a little bit more confidence, with a little bit more ease.”
Regarding those bidding wars, Zeng notes that HouseSigma may not prevent them, but it can help in the event of one. Real estate shopping, particularly under-listed properties set for a bidding war, can feel like a battle. “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable,” Dwight D. Eisenhower once said. HouseSigma is here to help with the planning.
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