“Digitalization Meets The Challenges Of Real Estate Development”

A new high-standing partment in Luxembourg-Kirchberg (Photo © LBH Immobilier)

For Jean-Daniel Hamet, CEO of Luxembourg-based real estate developer LBH Immobilier, digital solutions improve the developer/client relationship, facilitate the management of complex projects, and relieve the professional in his daily administrative work.

The Thionville-based group MCH Gestion SAS invests in Luxembourgish, French and Belgian startups which specialize in sanitary equipment, home automation, finance, space or modular construction. It supports about fifteen startups with a total investment of about 2 million euros.

The holding company also owns LBH Immobilier, a Luxembourg-based real estate development company specializing in distribution and real estate and active in residential real estate development.

LBH Immobilier has been involved in a digitalization process since 2016, offering its customers immersive virtual tours of its buildings, as well as near real-time monitoring of all stages of a construction site, with the aim of improving the developer/customer relationship and thus better meeting their expectations.

According to president Jean-Daniel Hamet, “real estate development consists of building for others”, through a series of steps, from the signing of the project, to the delivery of the property.

In this process, digitalization is essential to the entire chain of management and realization of the project.

“Digital applications, developed by startups in particular, have become indispensable for the developer’s day-to-day work.”

Jean-Daniel Hamet

Jean-Daniel Hamet, what does digitalization bring to real estate development?

First of all, it prevents certain problems that we won’t have to solve after the fact. It’s a common thread that allows us to manage and improve the permanent flow of information around the project, between the developer and his clients.

Also, a good digital communication tool will be able to answer a large number of questions and expectations of the customers, throughout the life cycle of the real estate operation. It will thus be able to prevent the possible concerns of the latter, and to dispel any doubts on the subject.

Digitization also facilitates the management of real estate projects, a management that is often extremely complex: between administrative documents, signature, specifications, plans, modifications of plans, additional work, etc.

Digital applications, developed by startups in particular, have become indispensable for the developer’s day-to-day work, helping to reduce possible delays, high costs, errors and disputes.

The question of administrative flows is also a real issue: a break in your data chain, and you risk missing an invoice, or issuing a wrong invoice, and thus generating a dispute with a customer. We are really in the heart of real estate development.

On the market, we can find digital solutions that meet the real challenges of our profession: from the more classic and general tools, to the applications often developed by startups, which serve more specific needs, with a more holistic approach to the business.

Do you have any concrete examples of digital approaches?

During the 2 years of a construction project of 22 apartments in Kirchberg, we made a series of reports on the spot, and sent about 30 newsletters to all stakeholders, to inform them about the progress and the stages of the project.

For example, the newsletters invited them to visit the companies’ showrooms, informed them about the equipment (bathrooms, etc.) of the future apartment, about the modifications they could make to the accessories, etc.

This digital communication approach allowed future buyers to participate in the life of the construction site almost “live” and to access a maximum of useful information, which is the basis of trust.

More generally, the use of virtual reality tools dedicated to building visits has become widespread in recent years.

In 2016, we had already applied the technology, in collaboration with a startup, which I had met during my activity as an investor. This company had modeled the building and some apartments.

Equipped with headsets, our clients could visit their future property in virtual reality, even before it was built, and for example choose the color of the walls, the tiles, the floors. Once the project was finalized, the reality really corresponded to the virtuality.

What is the state of play in Luxembourg in terms of the adoption of digital technology by developers and stakeholders?

The Luxembourg real estate market remains uncompetitive, as supply is scarce and demand is high; developers therefore feel less need to invest in a digital approach for their clients.

The issue is therefore not a priority, except perhaps in terms of image for certain developers who wish to profile themselves as companies at the cutting edge of innovation.

However, we note that innovation often comes from foreign promoters, for example Belgians, who bring new tools and practices to the Grand Duchy.

This article was first published in Silicon Luxembourg magazine. Get your copy.

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