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Digitalization: VON POLL IMMOBILIEN - the podcast

22/08/2022 · Autor: Wolfram Gast, Chief Digital Officer

In encyclopedia episode 5 of the VON POLL IMMOBILIEN podcast, Wolfram Gast, Chief Digital Officer at VON POLL IMMOBILIEN, and host Susanne Hauf conduct an exciting interview on the major topic of digitization in the real estate industry.

What is the state of 'digitalness' in the German real estate industry? Which digital tools are now essential for the industry? How will digitalization measures shape real estate purchases in the future? You can now listen to the exciting conversation on these and other topics directly here or read through as a transcript in the 'traditional manner'. We hope you enjoy it!



Podcast episode 'Digitization in the Real Estate Industry' - full transcript

presenter Susanne Hauf:

For many people, buying a property is the biggest transaction of their lives.

Such an important step they take together with a personal contact on-site. At the same time, however, buyers and sellers also have high digital expectations.

For example, buyers want to obtain comprehensive information about the property even before viewing it. This means that the provision of digital information is playing an increasingly important role, such as virtual tours, 3D tours, or drone footage. Sellers, on the other hand, expect digital tools that reduce complexity and effort along the entire marketing process and make everything as simple as possible.

How digital the real estate industry in Germany already is today, which digital tools have become indispensable in the meantime, and how digitization will change real estate buying in the future - that's what we talk about with Wolfram Gast, Chief Digital Officer at VON POLL IMMOBILIEN. Hello, Mr. Gast, nice to have you here.


Wolfram Gast, Chief Digital Officer VON POLL IMMOBILIEN:

Greetings, I look forward to talking to you.


Susanne Hauf:

My name is Susanne Hauf. I am the host of the podcast. Welcome.

The needs of consumers have changed. Digital offerings around a product allow customers to base their purchase decisions on detailed descriptions with photos and videos, not to mention comprehensive reviews. Wolfram Gast, does this also apply to the real estate industry?


Wolfram Gast:

Yes, this applies just as much to the real estate industry because the needs of prospective buyers have changed of course also with us.

Many prospective buyers want to inform nowadays already before a visit comprehensively about the property. That means in the plain language that the supply of digital information plays also in the real estate switching, speak the purchase and sales, an ever larger role. You just said it at the beginning, virtual tours via 3D tours, drone images, but also statistical details on the micro-location in interactive market reports. These are the information and also the vehicles, over which prospective buyers want to inform nowadays already before the inspection locally.

And it is also absolutely comprehensible that humans, who are interested in high-priced real estate with us, wish themselves naturally also rightly accordingly high-quality information and presentations. And that just not only on a personal but also on a digital level.


Susanne Hauf:

When did this trend start?


Wolfram Gast:

There you can already say quite clearly that the pandemic was a decisive driver for the digitization of companies and across industries. In my view, the good thing is that both customer acceptance of digital tools and expectations of them have risen noticeably in the last twelve to 24 months. This gives a company like us a clear tailwind and, of course, incentive, motivation, and enthusiasm for further digital innovations to meet the needs of our end customers.

Nevertheless, it must also be noted that for most people, buying or selling real estate is the largest and often also the most unique transaction of their lives. Despite all the enthusiasm for the topic of digitization, which is of course also in the nature of my position and the associated benefits, the focus continues to be on individual advice from a personal, local contact person. Digital solutions are an ideal complement to this and support an efficient and transparent marketing process.


Susanne Hauf:

So, on the one hand, digital tools are an extension of the service offering in real estate brokerage. On the other hand, however, they are also indispensable for acquisition, i.e., for attracting new buyers and sellers. Mr. Gast, digitization in the German real estate industry - what does the status quo actually look like?


Wolfram Gast:

Hand on heart, so regardless of whether it's administrative tasks or core aspects of the value chain, I would say that there is still a lot of room for improvement in the German real estate industry when it comes to digitization. In this sense, we at VON POLL IMMOBILIEN are focusing our digitalization efforts on topics that make our customers' sales and purchasing processes much simpler, more transparent, and more successful, and of course, very importantly, make the broker's work even more effective and productive.

You could say that we have already accomplished a great deal, but honestly, there is still just as much ahead of us. One thing is really clear and you have to be aware of it nowadays, the speed of change will increase significantly. Those who do not develop the appropriate structures and strategies in the company today will lose out in the medium term.


Susanne Hauf:

And what does that mean in concrete terms?


Wolfram Gast:

In concrete terms, this means that, for example, digital tools can already be used today to improve and simplify processes, such as object evaluation, exposé creation, and also the dispatch of exposés. The same applies to appointment management, starting with the initial consultation, through inspection management, and all the way to the notary. For a few years now, it has also been common practice, I would now like to say, to conduct property inspections on the screen via virtual tours. This saves time and money for many parties involved and, fortunately, also protects the environment. In addition, advertising channels such as Google, Facebook, and Co. have established themselves as must-haves, on the one hand, to increase visibility and awareness of our VON POLL IMMOBILIEN brand and, of course, on the other hand, to win new customers.

Cooperations with so-called PropTech companies are also part of the new normality, in order to be able to seamlessly integrate a variety of digital services quickly and with few resources in our own VON POLL IMMOBILIEN ecosystem and make them available to end customers quickly and easily. Due to the pandemic, digitization has really picked up speed once again. It has to be said quite clearly that all market participants have had to adapt in order to be able to continue doing business as contactless as possible and by means of video and screen transmission. Through the optimal interaction of digital solutions and personal advice from experts on site, we ensure relevance and proximity to the customer. In my eyes, a super important success factor for strengthening trust with the customer and at the same time securing decisive efficiency advantages.


Susanne Hauf:

From eSigning to artificial intelligence to the Internet of Things - these are the topics that will drive the digital transformation and change the industry. Both the USA, the UK or the Scandinavian regions are leading the way here in very many areas. Which digital tools are indispensable in real estate brokerage?


Wolfram Gast:

In order to answer this question ideally, I think you have to distinguish between what the buyer expects and what the owner expects?

Buyers in my eyes today definitely expect the possibility of virtual tours, so-called 360-degree tours. Then topics such as a digital inspection room with comprehensive object and location information around the property are relevant, digital document exchange, online appointment management, real-time financing checks, can I afford the property at all, does it fit into my budget?

Owners on the other hand expect a professional, digital online property valuation option that provides them with comprehensive information not only on price but perhaps also on historical and future price development. The online bid manager to be able to support the sales process digitally, transparently, and fairly is very important in my eyes and especially for our owner-seller target group, the topic of real-time reporting on sales progress is essential. Because our claim is that the owner-seller is always up to date on how well the marketing of his property is going.


Susanne Hauf:

Moderator: And how do customers react to these new ideas?


Wolfram Gast:

Very good question. Since digitization is, after all, geared to customer needs at our company, it logically brings with it corresponding advantages, which in turn are very much appreciated and accepted by our clientele. Basically, the sooner a digital service solves existing everyday problems, the easier and faster it will be accepted by the end customer. If the aim is to establish new services or products that did not previously exist in the analog world, the broad acceptance phase naturally takes longer.

But despite all the digitization, personal and individual advice is and remains crucial. Even if the innovations mentioned before namely simplify the sales of the own real estate clearly, probably few prospective customers buy a house or an apartment, without having seen these before live. I think we all know this from our private lives. It is therefore important that the broker or real estate expert is also personally present at on-site appointments and accompanies them professionally. In addition, despite the detailed descriptions, data, and facts, there are of course other technical as well as legal questions that can be answered competently by the real estate expert.


Susanne Hauf:

Thank you Wolfram Gast, Chief Digital Officer at VON POLL IMMOBILIEN.


Wolfram Gast:

Very much appreciated, it was a pleasure.


Susanne Hauf:

If you have any questions about this or other topics, feel free to contact our experts or find even more info on our website and in the VON POLL IMMOBILIEN app. You can find the links in the show notes of our podcast.

VON POLL IMMOBILIEN - the podcast. You can find us on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and in the VON POLL IMMOBILIEN app, on Amazon Music, and via Alexa. Just tell them, 'Alexa, play the VON POLL IMMOBILIEN podcast.'