Eight of Germany’s leading real estate agencies and several regional divisions of the German Real Estate Association (IVD) have joined forces to launch real estate marketplace Immobilie1.de. The site currently lists around 60,000 properties.

The project is a new version of an existing agency-backed marketplace, IVD24Immobilien.de, on which the new platform is technologically based. It was launched in 2015 but never really gained traction, remaining a marginal force in the local property classified market.

Ralf Sorg, CEO of Immobilie1 AG, told the AIM Group that the two platforms will continue to exist side by side. While real estate agents can join IVD24Immobilien.de solely as members of the IVD, Immobilie1.de is available to all professional market participants, real estate agents, property developers and housing associations interested — provided they are in possession of certificate 34c, the trade license for real estate agents in Germany. Brokers will be charged a monthly fee of €40 ($40.6 U.S.) for every branch and agent requiring access.

Participating agencies in the new project include Von-Poll-Immobilien, Dahler & Company, Sparkassen Immobilien, LBS Immobilien, PlanetHome Group GmbH, RE/MAX Deutschland, and Wüstenrot Immobilien.

Jochen Dörner, spokesman for the management of Wüstenrot Immobilien GmbH, said, “We are pleased to be working together with competitors on Immobilie1, thus creating added value for the industry and at the same time offering people looking for real estate a genuine alternative.”

Sorg added, “At Immobilie1.de, the real estate industry works closely together. Everyone contributes their specific know-how to create a joint marketplace with fair conditions.”

In an interview with the AIM Group, he said the idea was to establish a platform run by real estate brokers, for real estate brokers. The platform’s aim is to incentivize collaboration between agents in the form of joint business opportunities. Through a multi-listing system, real estate agents can list themselves in a databank and find each other, based on search inquiries such as location and object types. Agents are also able to form groups and even allow other brokers to sell their properties, further generating more opportunities for cooperation. The platform can therefore be, to a certain degree, understood as a professional networking platform.

Regarding end customers, the CEO said that Immobilie1.de attempts to provide a “calm, concentrated and clear” customer experience. Potential buyers are not distracted by aggressive advertisements like banner ads, they can use the platform for free and will always find the newest real estate in their searches, rather than ads that have been highlighted through premium offers. As real estate brokers can only join the platform with the right qualifications, customers can rely on professionalism and security while using the platform’s services.

According to a media statement, Immobilie1 AG is not supported by venture capital or large corporations, but by users themselves. Every provider is, therefore, also a shareholder in the company.

The same principle applies to the new site as it did to IVD24Immobilien — participating agents should list on the marketplace before anywhere else. According to Sorg, the company is asking participating agents to not post properties on competitor platforms within 48 hours of their going online on Immobilie1.de.

Currently, 50.000 stocks have been made available for purchase for €1 per share. Up to eight shares can be bought per branch or agent. Within its own organizations, around 5,500 members of the IVD and 1,500 other locations are eligible to purchase shares.

Tough road to challenge the Top 3

Several agency-backed real estate marketplaces are active across the world, with some success. These include Funda in the Netherlands, OnTheMarket in the U.K., Houza in the U.A.E., Realtor.ca in Canada, RealEstate.co.nz in New Zealand, and Hemnet in Sweden.

However, the road ahead for Immobilie1 will not be easy. The company faces four significant challengers to become a leading property marketplace. ImmobilienScout24.de, owned by Scout24, is the leading real estate vertical in Germany, followed by Axel Springer’s two sites ImmoWelt.de / ImmoNet.de, and privately-owned Wg-Gesucht.de. Adevinta’s dominant horizontal, EBay-Kleinanzeigen.de, also has a strong presence in real estate classifieds.

To begin to challenge these companies will require sizeable funding and growing support among agencies, so the Immobilie1 CEO is not expecting immediate results. Rather, the platform is seeking to cool prices on the market and offer an initially cheaper alternative to the other portals, as the industry has been seeing continuous price increases, while giving brokers more freedom.

Sorg told the AIM Group that Immobilie1.de is focusing on several ongoing growth strategies:

  1. increase the participation rate among its own organizations
  2. get further external broker associations to join
  3. invite brokers who are not members of an association to participate

Furthermore, the company wants to invest three quarters of its budget into marketing, spending €100,000 monthly from August to expand its presence. With more subscribers to the platform and user fees, the amount may rise, Sorg added.

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