Fri, Feb 17, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Rakuya, Next Group ink cooperation agreement

HOUSING PORTAL:The pact aims to facilitate housing transactions by integrating the Taiwanese and Japanese firms’ platforms, the chairman of Rakuya’s co-owner said

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff Reporter

Taiwanese housing search engine Rakuya International Information Co (樂屋網) yesterday inked a cooperation agreement with its largest Japanese peer, Next Group, to facilitate home sales in both markets.

Next Group will take a 12 percent stake in Rakuya, co-owned by the nation’s leading Internet service provider PChome Online (網路家庭) and five real-estate brokers — Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), Chinatrust Real Estate Co (中信房屋), H&B Realty (住商不動產), Pacific Realtor Co (太平洋房屋) and Century 21 (21世紀不動產) — PChome chairman Jan Hung-tze (詹宏志) said.

Jan declined to reveal the size of Next Group’s investment, but said the cooperation aims to provide home buyers in Taiwan and Japan more asset allocation options and quicker access to related information online.

“We aim to facilitate housing transactions through an integrated intelligence platform rather than replace existing real-estate brokers,” Jan said.

Most home buyers do online research before making a move, lending support for such a platform, not only in the local market, but also on the international stage, he said.

Next Group, a Tokyo-based company and the operator of Japan’s biggest housing portal Home’s, will secure a seat on Rakuya’s board in a bid to expand its footprint across Asia, chief executive officer Takashi Inoue said.

The group set up a subsidiary in Thailand last year and plans to launch its service in China in April, Inoue said.

“We are evaluating expansions in Vietnam, the Philippines and other places in Southeast Asia,” he told a media briefing in Taipei.

Returns on real-estate investment for apartments aged 10 years and older exceed 9 percent, Inoue said, as home acquisitions do not require residency in Japan. The 15-year-old Japanese firm has a capital equivalent to NT$757 million (US$25.54 million) and more than 3 million accumulated listings of houses for sale or rent, company data showed.

Rakuya, which debuted in October 2008, is the most frequently visited Web site under the index term “home purchase” on both Google and Yahoo. It lists more than 580,000 properties awaiting transfer, company data showed.

The agreement will allow the partners to cross-list each other’s items, beginning in the third quarter, pending technical solutions, Jan said.

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