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Inside money, markets, and Big Tech

This article was published on November 6, 2008

    Michiel Muller challenges real estate brokers with online auctions

    Michiel Muller challenges real estate brokers with online auctions
    Ernst-Jan Pfauth
    Story by

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

    I’m at the Sprout Challenger Day, a conference celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit. Infamous Dutch business journalist Jort Kelder hosts the day and now interviews Michiel Muller, the Richard Branson of Holland. In only a few years, he challenged traffic collective ANWB (4 million members) with an alternative to their motoring organization, all the oil companies by introducing unmanned gas stations, and now he takes on real estate brokers.

    The buyer has the money

    When buying a house in Holland, you generally pay ten percent too much. That’s a weird thought, considering the current economic climate. The buyer can decide, he’s the one who actually spends money. So with that thought in mind, Muller has built an online auction site called Bieden en Wonen (Bidding and Living).

    An hour of bidding

    In a four-week process (collecting information from real estate agents to define the price etc.), it all comes down to an hour. That’s when the actual bidding takes place. The site opens up at 5pm and closes at 6pm. The selling party can give the starting price and a minimal price. Instead of starting with a high price and waiting for four months, only to see the price drop, you start low and see the price skyrocket in only an hour.

    Inspiration in your news paper

    By launching this site, Muller has shaken up the real estate market. Just like he did with the motoring organization and the oil market. What’s his secret? Muller: “Just look around you. Read a paper and see what the problems are. Try to fix them”. As an example, he mentioned another idea – which is similar to Zocdoc (an online booking system for the health sector). “It’s a matter of combining technological innovation with a marketing aspect”, Muller concludes.