Per Hedenmark has worked for 14 years in the real estate industry, he has been marketing manager at estate agency Erik Olsson and Swedish incumbent Fastighetsbyråns, one of the largest franchisees, with offices that have sales of SEK 90 million (approximately $9 million).
Now he has left the traditional real estate industry to start a digital challenger along with former Management Consultant Adrian Miller to create a new company, Norban.
Norban has looked at so-called hybrid brokers abroad, including Purplebrick in the UK.
Recently, the company closed a round of SEK 12 million (approximately $1 million), to a value of SEK 50 million (approximately $5 million). Investors include Bambora Founder Johan Tjärnberg, entrepreneur and investor Pontus Kristiansson, Fredrik Röhnisch, CEO of Röhnisch Sportswear and real estate investor Roger Stjernborg Eriksson.
In addition, the founders themselves put in SEK 4.5 million (approximately $460,000).
Per Hedenmark describes a hybrid broker as a mix between an automated service and a traditional real estate agency.
“We are [among] the first real estate company in Sweden where you can publish your home yourself. You download an app, put the property up for a minute, and then you can gather interest in the property before deciding to move on with a sale."
“Today it is so black or white. If you contact a broker, the machinery is running. We have rebuilt the entire business model and take SEK 30,000 (approximately $3,000) no matter what or where we sell,” he says.
The company's brokers then handle the elements that, according to Per Hedenmark, create real value, such as photography, screenings, negotiation, contract writing and access.
Transparency is also top of the list of things Hedenmark focuses on with his new endeavor: “Try to visit the other brokers' websites and see what it costs to hire them. I think you will find it difficult to find it.
“It has been incredibly important for us to be 100 percent transparent. As a customer, you should be able to monitor your business in real time via mobile,” says Per Hedenmark.
Among other things, Norban gets the costs down by not sitting in expensive retail premises as many brokers do today.
"We will sit in cheaper office space. We also have fixed brokerage salaries with pensions and holidays. You probably do not know how rotten employment conditions it is often in the brokerage industry otherwise," he says.
The service that the company built is called Pre-Market. If the property is sold in the pre-market, the seller pays no fee, but then the buyer is responsible for the cost.
“There are studies that show that four out of ten may be moving, but only one in ten does. One explanation for this is that there is too little housing on the market. The supply in the Swedish market is low from an international perspective.
"Say you may want to sell first in two years, or if the price is right. Then you can use our service to check interest. We show housing that would otherwise not be displayed and that increases the mobility in the market," Hedenmark explains.
In July, the service was launched in Helsingborg. In December, Stockholm will be in turn and at the beginning of next year Gothenburg and Malmö.
The long-term goal is to be the "first brokerage firm in Sweden to truly establish itself abroad".
“We expect to be cash positive in the autumn of 2020, the money we have raised now will be enough until then. The international establishment we believe we want to do in 2021, and then more money will be needed,” says Hedenmark.
Edited by V. Haviland
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