How easy is it to sell a property? Helsinki-based company Blok has built a virtual estate agent that makes the sale of homes simple, affordable, and secure. The AI-empowered service automates the routine work associated with the selling homes, such as property-related data processing, property marketing, and generating of sales documents and other related documents.
“Our mission is to create the best home-selling experience in the world. We want to be the pioneers in streamlining apartment sales – from 3D-VR house viewings to electronic offers and sales documentation. It’s great that seasoned business people like Andersin and Christoffersen believe in our vision and give their own experience and know-how at our disposal,” describes Blok’s CEO Rudi Skogman.
To fulfil the mission Blok closed a financing round for an undisclosed amount. The money will be used to boost product development and brand visibility. Former Supercell marketing executive, angel investor Erlend Christoffersen and one of Evli Bank’s founders and main shareholders, Henrik Andersin together with Picus Capital GmBh invested in the company to revolutionise home sales with artificial intelligence and automation.
Listed as one of the hottest startups from Helsinki, Blok plans to spend a significant share of the funding on growing the skilled team. The company also plans to further develop and optimise the service and to reach out to consumers, starting with the Finnish housing market.
The service which is gaining popularity in Finland currently lists more than 20 million euros worth of apartments for sale. Flats sold through Blok’s virtual estate agent have been sold 3-5 times faster than similar flats in the same residential areas, often at higher than average prices for similar flats. At the same time, more than 225,000 euros of the homeowners’ money has been saved thanks to the 0.75% estate agency fee of this intelligent service. This is considerably lower than those of traditional estate agents, thanks to automation.
“Our goal is to be selling 50 properties per month by the end of the year through our virtual estate agent,” describes Skogman the company’s growth plans for the coming months on the Finnish market.
The future of the housing market is on the Internet. Blok aims to continuously develop its service and to take over the Nordic housing market in the next couple of years by becoming the first player in the traditional industry to be fully automated. At present, the sale process of a flat or a house still requires a visit to the bank, but the firm believes that full online sale of homes will be a reality in the next few years when Finland, along with other countries, switches from paper-based housing documents to electronic ones and technology and consumer habits change.
“The first fully digital apartment purchase will be possible in Finland in 2019. In addition to the digitalisation of the sale process, the growing popularity of VR house viewings, including in the sale of off-plan property, will revolutionise the housing market, as will blockchain technology-enhanced contracts, which will enhance transparency,” Skogman predicts.
For example, in the UK, virtual real estate agents of the same type have already gained a significant share of the real estate market. The key to Blok’s growth in Finland is to build consumer confidence in the new technology.
– “We want to challenge the traditional perceptions in the sector. We’re constantly working to increase customer confidence, and to get those consumers who adopt new technology at a slower pace to try our service,” says Skogman.
Using the service has been made extremely accessible: Blok is so confident it offers a full satisfaction guarantee to users of its virtual estate agent. If a flat or house fails to sell, the seller can stop using the service at any time without any charge and without giving prior notice.
Blok is also part of the Finnish government’s flagship initiative, The KIRA-digi program, which among other things supports new innovations and business in the real estate and construction sectors.