The digitization of the real estate sector has evolved slowly in the last 20 years. However, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this process in recent months more than in previous years. The needs of investors and developers / builders remain the same, but the environment has changed. We chat with Pedro Arroyo, General Director of icrowdhouse, who explains the evolution of the sector and the advantages that arise with the development of the new Saas from icrowdhouse.
It is said that digitization has become a top priority in the real estate sector due to the coronavirus pandemic. What do you think are the main reasons? In which area do you consider this digitization more necessary than ever?
Digitization in the real estate sector began with Idealista in 2000, 20 years ago, but its evolution has been very slow, until a few years ago we started talking about PropTech.
The real estate portals and marketplaces were joined by Peer to Peer, Airbnb in 2008, then came Virtual Reality and how we did not start with Big Data, until, in 2015, we started the digital activity, the Real Estate Investment Platforms. The list continues with Property Valuation, Digital Signature, Person Rating, Project Rating, and it goes on and on.
Digitally speaking, in these three months of pandemic I think we have advanced the equivalent of 3 years in a normal scenario, why? The answer is clear, out of necessity.
Because if we cannot physically show a house we will have to do it virtually, because we have realized that we can do a one-hour webinar explaining to 15 prospects what it would have taken us before a week, and because an investor does not need to attend a collective presentation To analyze a potential real estate investment, you can do it from any device, anywhere and at any time.
How has financing evolved in this sector in the last year? What problems are the most recurrent?
It is clear and evident that bank financing in the real estate sector is letting itself be attractive, if it ever was since 2008.
In the past, the real estate sector was supported by banks, because the interest was reciprocal, not so much for the project but for the end customer. IFRS accounting standards, the new mortgage law of 2019 and the concentration of banks in Spain are reducing interest year after year.
In the last year this problem has worsened, the banking system requires a demonstration of a high level of sales demand through pre-sale contracts, an increase in equity, a significant reduction in the percentage of financed capital and increasingly demanding project monitoring control systems.
How did the idea of creating the new icrowdhouse Saas come about? What do you think is your main advantage?
It was born as a solution to a need for promoters to obtain alternative financing to bank debt, for the reasons stated above.
We are not substitutes for the bank, we are complementary, we can contribute with our Saas, recurring alternative financing, which the promoter himself strategically selects according to his needs.
We do not want to solve a specific problem of the need for financing in a project, we want to integrate ourselves into the promoter's business model as another source of financing in Equity for projects where we can add value and that are interesting for our investors.
It is not easy to choose the main advantage among many of them, but you could say that it is a digital, flexible and simple recurring financing formula without obstacles, with an optimal cost.
What do the promoters and investors of this software highlight? What forecasts do you have regarding its use in the real estate market?
The promoters highlight the possibility of having their own participatory financing platform, being able to attract their own investors, and above all the possibility of opening a financing round for a project quickly and easily, all 100% digital.
Investors highlight the protection of the CNMV, anonymity, zero cost, confidence in the quality of projects thanks to the quality of the originators, the transparency of the information, the usability of the application, accessibility and above all the proposal return on your investment.
Our business forecast is the maximum recruitment of developers that include this long-term solution always in balance with the attraction of investors who maintain their investment recurrence, offering excellent product quality, that is, exceeding their expectations.
In any of the most optimistic scenarios, we will always have a minimum penetration in the national sector, and more if possible in the international sector, planned for 2021.
There are different software models: what main difference distinguishes each of them?
The main Saas is CROWD, which allows having a white label and thus having a digital ecosystem to manage investors and attract financing on a recurring basis.
We also offer PFP, when the need for collection is punctual and for amounts less than € 300.000.
When the developer does not need to raise financing, but is passionate about the technological solution to manage their investors and projects, we offer PRO, which is the same digital ecosystem, but with a closed environment.
Last but not least, we have a tool for Financial Advisory Companies, called EAF, which allows the broker to make investments from its client portfolio in the projects exposed in icrowdhouse, all digitally and with maximum protection at a cost of € 0 .
Are you already thinking of improving it? Is it possible to advance some of the novelties in the short term?
Without a doubt, we have designed a road map that will allow us to invest our resources in our own technology in order to provide maximum value to our client. Continuous improvement is part of our DNA, listening and proactively investigating our clients and the main players in the market.
As a short-term advance, we can say, the liquidity option of the Equity in the Secondary Market or the option of grouping the management of all the real estate projects from other platforms in ours to centralize the information.
And from the investor's point of view, we will be able to allow our Financial Advisory Companies to attract clients through our Platform. We cannot advise the investor, but if we can offer who can carry out this advice to increase their portfolio of accredited clients who already use icrowdhouse, we all win.