PriceHubble‘s Thomas Berghaus talks about his company, transparency in real estate, and the digital future.
Can you present PriceHubble in a few (or more) words ? How does it work and what is your vision ?
” Our vision is to contribute to more transparency in the residential real estate market and to offer real added value to companies along the residential real estate value chain with our digital solutions.”
” How do we do that ? We have developed an Automated Valuation Model (AVM) that brings together the latest technologies such as big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence and is thus able to precisely determine live property values for any residential property in a country we are active in.
In doing so, we go far beyond the usual location factors or information such as the current and forecasted market and rental value, but also take into account market dynamics in the surrounding area and location criteria such as noise level, accessibility, sunlight or the quality of the view.
Further, we provide overviews of planned new construction projects in the vicinity or socio-economic developments in the neighbourhood. This way, non-linear correlations between prices and value-relevant characteristics are also mapped. This allows us to determine the statistically most probable market or rental price of the property and also to provide an outlook on the development of the value. Compared to traditional valuation, more precise forecasts are thus possible.”
” For the client, this means a significant optimisation and simplification of individual processes. Advisors and brokers can provide their clients with an in-depth view of the property at the push of a button and thus strengthen their sales. Asset managers and project developers have the possibility with our digital solutions to check entire portfolios with regards to their optimisation potential. Real Estate developers are able to calculate the best possible flat mix and the rental income achievable at new locations. Our tools are designed to deliver target group-specific added value and thus enable more business.
Across countries, we have been noticing a trend towards holistic real estate services for some time now. For example, from search to valuation to financing, insurance and price development analysis. Such interfaces are our business model.”
What were and are your main challenges ?
“ Well, founding a new subsidiary of an established, successful company is very exciting per se and also coming with the usual challenges of a start-up (foundation, taxes, accounting, setting up a new office). We have already successfully mastered all of this.”
“ Now, we are talking to clients and partners along the entire residential real estate value chain to learn about their needs and how we can help them grow and better serve their own customers. This is a task that makes us understand the market better every day and then develop new solutions for the Dutch and Belgian residential RE market.”
How has Covid-19 impacted your work and business strategy ?
” For our daily work, the pandemic and the accompanying lockdown phases were not really a change. As a company that develops digital solutions for the real estate industry, we are naturally digitally positioned and due to our global orientation, we have employees not only in our 6 locations, but also spread around the world. This means we have always worked digitally and decentrally, so the processes are well established.”
” We could even see that through the lockdown, the need for information on real estate related issues (such as value maintenance, market development, etc.) has increased. For this reason, we see a growing demand from our B2B clients in all our locations for web-based PriceHubble products, but also an increased demand for analyses that bring security and fact-based information into the public discourse.
Overall, the developments have given a considerable boost to the digitalisation of the real estate industry, which we very much welcome and from which I am sure the whole industry will benefit in the future.”
What are the main trends in the residential real estate market today ?
“ Considering the size of the residential property market, this is of course a very broad question. A big trend is definitely the quest for transparency and improving the availability of information. In the financial sector, this transparency is already quite strong, especially in countries like the Netherlands. Information about real estate, on the other hand, is lagging behind, all along the value chain, but it is needed more than ever in such a pressured market.”
Information about real estate, on the other hand, is lagging behind, all along the value chain, but it is needed more than ever in such a pressured market.
” Project developers need to know what composition of buildings will maximise their returns. Advisors, be they financial or real estate, need information to be able to transparently advise their clients on their properties. Investors are asking how they can get the same transparency for the asset “real estate” as they have for other assets in their portfolio.
And finally, it is also about the long-term relationship between advisor and client. Until now, real estate has often been a transactional business: ” I sold one house/mortgage to one client; the next one now, please.” We see a shift towards a long-term relationship with the client, e.g. proactive advice on possible next steps with the RE property.”
“We see a shift towards a long-term relationship with the client.”
What about the future ? What urban evolutions can we expect ?
“ Let’s assume that the changes in the work-style due to Covid-19 will prevail. People will continue to work from home and we will see less traffic in cities. This gives room for new forms of urban development with more space for living and less space for traffic, cars and commuters.”
“ It could also reshuffle the criteria for people looking for housing. If it is no longer necessary to drive to the office every day, people might consider moving more to the suburbs of the big cities to save money and get more quality of life in the form of a possibly greener environment. This would increase the demand for real estate in the surrounding areas and offers great opportunities for real estate developers in these areas.”
What is your strategy for this year, how do you expect the market to develop and how will PriceHubble fit into it ?
” We are in a growth phase, both in terms of personnel and regionally, and will continue on this course for 2021. We have strong funding partners that will allow us to further scale our product and enter new markets. Building the business in the Benelux, initially mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium, is an exciting task in the coming months.”
“ Digitalisation will continue to pick up speed and move further into focus. The business world is not standing still; on the contrary, everything is becoming faster and more complex. This means that products and solutions that optimise processes and make them more efficient are becoming increasingly important.”
” We are in close exchange with our customers and always develop our products further in line with their needs. In this way, we remain innovative and solve real problems in the actual customer-centric journeys.”