3 April 2020

Innovative players at the heart of the real estate revolution 2.0

By Pascal Viscardi

The real estate market is currently undergoing a real digital revolution through players with new models and ambitious startups with innovative technological solutions. What is at stake? To simplify real estate operations, facilitate procedures, secure transactions, and support a project effectively using the most advanced tools. On the residents’ side: more comfort, security, savings, and control, all at your fingertips. In concrete terms, new technologies now enable new players to effectively help investors, owners, managers, and other real estate users to monitor anticipate and make better decisions, faster and at the best price.

PropTech and FinTech: dematerialization of the real estate market

A traditionalist universe par excellence, real estate is nevertheless preparing to take the digital tangent. At the heart of this paradigm shift, one expression reigns supreme in all discussions: « PropTech »,  an acronym for “property technology”; a general term that covers the vast array of innovative technologies applied to the many sectors and trades that make up real estate. 

The “PropTech” galaxy is mainly divided into three fields:

  • FinTech, the financial sector that aims to simplify the marketing of real estate through the deployment of all new technologies available. 

  • Smart Real Estate, the intelligent building sector – which includes home automation 2.0 – whose aim is to facilitate the operation and management of real estate properties through technological platforms and connected objects.
  • ConTech or technological innovation in the construction industry

A subcategory of FinTech, crowdfunding is based on the exchange of goods and services between individuals. It is precisely on this participative principle that our company Foxstone is based. Its aim is to offer direct and transparent access to the real estate market in French-speaking Switzerland through turnkey services. In fact, it is now possible to become a property owner with a minimum investment of CHF 25’000 -. Access to real estate investment is therefore facilitated, allowing a larger part of the Swiss population to take the plunge.

In a constant drive to improve the quality of its services, Foxstone has put technology at the heart of its business model. The latest innovative solution to date, the company enables its clients to carry out all the necessary steps to acquire a property, including notarial certification, without having to travel. 

Digitalisation of the notarial process

In the near future, the FinTech companies intend to further transform the world of real estate transactions through the use of block-chain tokens, a shared and decentralized information storage and transmission technology that acts as a digital registry containing the history of all transactions between its users. These tokens will be saleable and purchasable at any time, tamper-proof and secure. They will push the real estate market towards “exchanges” (market places), thus generating significant liquidity. Thanks to these digital tokens, transactions will be facilitated and transfers of financial assets will become more transparent.

Home Automation 2.0 and Smart Home: PropTech’s Basics 

A hot topic since the late 80’s, today more concrete and financially accessible than ever, home automation are at the origin of PropTech; at the very heart of the real estate digitization process. Thanks to the advent of connected objects, controlling all the functionalities of a dwelling has gone from being a gadget to being a reality. This is known as Smart Home. The stakes are multiple: comfort, centralization, security, energy savings, and therefore financial savings, respect for ecology, everything is designed to allow total control to the user. 

Coffee ready when you wake up? The oven preheated when you arrive? A simulated presence during your holidays? Identifying and using savings potential? All this is possible. A myriad of turnkey solutions and connected objects are now available, with just as many startups and companies to develop them?

Swiss companies such as Smarthome ECOsystem, for example, allow their users to control their roller shutters, lighting, and heating, on-site or remotely, reduce the temperature and automatically switch off the lights to reduce energy costs by up to 30%. Ultimately, the use of this type of centralized interface also eliminates the need for a manual meter reading.

Smart Real Estate: more humane and easier real estate management 

On the management side, property management is benefiting more than ever from the digital revolution. The long-term objective? To automate the functions of a building in order to allow Smart Real Estate type management. The intelligent, eco-responsible, fully domotized, and the connected building would then be able to anticipate the various needs, thus considerably improving the daily life of the inhabitants.

Numerous digital platforms exist to facilitate exchanges and services. The applications can be diverse: clarifying technical or commercial difficulties, retrieving/exchanging documents, ordering services, reserving rooms or parking spaces, etc. They can also facilitate the conclusion of contracts and the smooth running of transactions between tenants and owners, or automate repetitive tasks. A brief overview of the current players.

The Basel-based digital platform Allthings connects landlords, managers, service providers and tenants. It is easy to use and presented in the form of applications, and offers a wide range of services: announcements between neighbours, neighbourhood messaging, lending of objects, practical documents, concierge services, external partner services, etc. You can also view the availability of shared washing machines and top up your account balance directly via smartphone. Allthings thus enables the manager to increase efficiency by 70% and increase the value of the property by 15%. 

In the same vein, Tayo is a Swiss software package designed to centralize the management of requests for services or interventions (electrician, plumber, heating engineer, etc.), thus acting as a single link between the various parties. The complete management of incidents is ensured, and communications are simplified. Intensive data entry tasks are also eliminated, allowing you to focus on your core business: adding value to the properties under management. Welcome to the future.

Conclusion: the beginning of a new era d’une nouvelle ère 

For real estate professionals and users alike, this major paradigm shift has resolutely positive consequences: saving time and money, facilitating procedures and forecasting usage. At the forefront of this revolution are the startups that, thanks to their adaptability and thirst for evolution, now offer a veritable galaxy of interconnected tools with innovative technology. This is a disruption and even a revolution whose ultimate goal is to combine an ultra-personalized service with concrete results. 

However, this is not a brutal reversal, far from it, but a profound change whose methods are induced by a society that is itself changing. Digitisation is now everywhere, at all scales, in all our daily tasks and soon at the heart of all professions. Everything is smart and connected, dematerialized and shared. Real estate and all of its various professions, in the short term, are also destined to take this path.  

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