The head of the Spanish proptech company Housell said that it is necessary to transform the market for buying and selling homes and offer an alternative to traditional real estate companies.
In a similar way to fintech companies, although for the moment without so much impact, proptech companies are gaining a foothold in the real estate market by defending a new way of selling and renting apartments, with a 100% technological base and fewer costs for the user. According to the Association of Real Estate Agents of Catalonia, there are 256 proptech companies in Spain, and everything points to 2021 being a year with new incorporations following the boost of digitalization after the pandemic, although, in turn, 2020 was not exactly an easy year for the sector.
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How the pandemic impacted the proptech sector
“We lived through how buyers made downward offers but sellers resisted selling, how intentions to go live on the periphery became a reality and, finally, we saw supply and demand recover in an asymmetrical way. At Housell, we took the opportunity to digitize even more our value proposition: buying and selling a home completely online between individuals. In pre-Covid times, the digital transformation was going at a good pace, and this acceleration has allowed us to be more ambitious,” explained Guillermo Llibre.
Housell, the real estate company owned by the Cerberus fund, suffered the consequences of the pandemic, accentuating the drop in sales, although the company assured that it currently “has surpassed the figure of 1% market share in Spain. This is something that has been achieved by the ecosystem of start-ups, investors, and early adopter clients who support the change. Not only is there a maturing adoption curve, but we will see how the fintech niche crosses over into proptech with very interesting proposals, such as the free rental diposit where it is no longer necessary to have saved two or three monthly payments to be able to rent a property,” adds Llibre.
This elimination of commissions is precisely one of the bases on which these types of companies are based, together with the use of technology. “The world has changed and technology must help us to adopt new behaviors. From Housell we detected the need to create a company capable of transforming the sector. A company that would offer an alternative to traditional real estate agencies. The main difference has to do with the use of technology, which helps us to get to know our future buyers better”.
The real estate company argued that more and more people are daring to buy homes online. According to a study carried out by themselves, 40% of those surveyed who choose to sell their home through an agency prefer a mostly telephone service, 39% would choose a digital service and 22% would prefer an agent to take care of it.
For this reason, they have decided to launch their new subscription-based service, Housell Flex, a sort of Netflix of home sales that makes it easier and more flexible for the seller to market the property. “A pioneering plan that allows you to give diffusion to the home you want to sell for 59 euros per month. This has never been done in Spain in this way. The great advantage is that it has no permanence of any kind and you can hire the services you require at the precise moment you need them. In 24 hours you are published in more than 30 portals and the app guides you in the visits as well as in the offers”, explains Housell’s CEO.
Guillermo Llibre is confident in this new real estate subscription service and trusts that it will help them to get 7,000 customers in 2021, 3,500 of them coming from Hosell Flex.
Likewise, from the company they see a clear future in which the 100% digital sale of housing will be a reality for more users, although for the moment without leaving Spain. “The initial ambition to internationalize the project has dissipated as the cultural complexities of each country have been understood after the pandemic. Very few companies in Europe have expanded and almost none with positive results,” says Llibre.
However, this should not be a brake on growth, because, as the Housell executive points out, their goal is still to gain a 5% share of the real estate market. “We have a turnover of more than 20 million and already more than 20,000 clients have bet on this new way of selling. As for new investments, we are in talks with our two investors to obtain a new round of financing and talking to a possible third investor to join as a partner,” he concluded.
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First published in Expansion, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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