We recently sat down with Orchard Head of Consumer Product, Rahil Esmail, to discuss building real estate products. It’s an awesome conversation about products people use to help make major life decisions.

Orchard Head of Consumer Product, Rahil Esmail, and Product Talk host, Samantha Scott, talked about making real estate products to take the stress and complications out of buying a new home. You can listen to the full episode of Product Talk above. A few highlights from the episode are detailed below.

Product best practices aren’t always best

The reason we gather the best practices from so many great product leaders is that what works for one person or organization won’t always work for another.

“The onboarding flow we have, so the actual quiz process [on what features a person wants in a home], is 40 questions long. It flies in the face of a lot of product best practice where fewer stuff equals better. The completion rate of the quiz is over 70%. Most people who start it, complete it.”

On why major real estate companies don’t innovate

The established players in the real estate market aren’t innovating real estate products.

“You have these big players that are very entrenched in one part of the process. That means to really shake things up and take it on end to end, you have to oftentimes give up what your core is. You have to change your revenue model, your business model. For large companies, it becomes tough to do that, because the opportunity cost tends to be really high. The size of the companies is really big, which makes them slow to move.”

Building real estate products means putting customers first

Buying a home is a very personal process. That’s why you need to get inside your customers’ heads when you’re building real estate products.

“You need to set up a process to always be talking to people. Understanding what’s going on in their minds. So, this notion of continuous discovery is something that’s really important.”

On what makes a great product manager

Great product leaders need to see beyond the product to the big picture of a business.

“What makes a truly exceptional PM is really a mindset. It’s the owner’s mindset. Somebody who thinks that even though they’re a product manager, they treat the product as a means to an end versus an end in and of itself. So, the person who thinks about the product as a means to build a really good business is the type of PM I really love working with.”

How COVID-19 Alters Product Strategy

In this age of day-to-day uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s inevitable that the real estate market would be greatly affected. To evolve with the changing market, Orchard took steps to digitize the process of home buying.

“We’re prioritizing virtual consultations as an example. Our agents are helping customers tour homes remotely. So, they’re going into the home and sending videos of the home tours to the actual shoppers, which has been really beneficial. We are making it easier for people to find 3D tours of homes online.”

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About the Speaker
Orchard Head of Consumer Product
Rahil Esmail is the Head of Consumer Products at Orchard, whose mission is to offer the most stress free, fair and simple way to buy a home. Prior to joining Orchard, Rahil served in various product roles at Harry’s helping them grow from a 30-person operation in a one-bedroom apartment to the direct-to-consumer force it became. Rahil was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan and moved to the US when he was 17. He has a BA in Consumer Science and Psychology from Yale University.
About the Host
Capsule fmr Director of Product Management
Samantha Scott has carved an active history in product management, starting with NexJ Systems and moving from AppNexus to Etsy. Samantha is currently pursuing an MBA at Harvard Business School to further enhance her business acumen. Prior to that, she was the Director of Product Management at Capsule, a healthcare technology that provides clinical surveillance and medical device integration. Her career is backed by a Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo. Before delving into products and product management, Samantha served as Toronto Hydro’s Compliance and Quality Analyst and TD’s Business Analyst.

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