Looking app

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Neighbourhood help schemes, handyman services or food deliveries – which services would tenants and owners like to see offered via app? Aareon explored this issue as part of an international survey – and came up with some interesting findings.

If you want to send a message to your friends, you pick up your smartphone. If you need directions to the railway station, you may well do likewise. Looking up weather forecasts, shopping, surfing the net, writing reminders, reading world news, watching videos, keeping up with stock market developments, checking bus timetables, recording calendar appointments, ordering dinner, taking photos, listening to music, entering fitness data – smartphones can do all that and more.

 Read more about the French tenant app in  „Smart Service“

Housing companies can’t get by without these indispensable devices and their apps if they are to move with the times and communicate with their customers efficiently and quickly. Aareon has developed a tenant app to modernise and facilitate communication between tenant and landlord, in particular via self-service offerings. This is already well-established in France.

The app was piloted in Germany in 2017 and could serve as the basis for numerous additional offerings. The first step in this direction is to map out a kind of holistic vision of tenant relations in the future. Various relationships have to be taken into consideration – initially those with tenants, but subsequently relationships with service providers and between tenants too.

Which additional apps could fill gaps in this tapestry of relationships? Aareon surveyed 1,900 tenants and owners in the core markets of Germany, France, the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands on their use of apps and their requirements – and came up with some interesting findings.

of German internet users
also used mobile internet in 2017. This figure has risen by 30 per cent in just four years. Around 96 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds and 94 per cent of 25- to 44-year-olds are mobile surfers. The German Federal Statistical Office surveyed all members of 12,000 households aged ten and over for the study.
Source: Wirtschaftsrechnungen, Fachserie 15, Reihe 4, IKT 2017

National markets differ widely
“As expected for a residential survey, infrastructure topics such as handyman services, energy supply and food deliveries are regarded as extremely important in all countries,” reports Arash Houshmand, Head of Aareon’s housing platform. “But it gets more exciting when you drop down a level and analyse the differences between tenants and owners or between respondents who are about to move home and those who have stayed put for some time. That’s when major discrepancies become apparent, with results also varying from one country to the next.” Some of these findings surprised the expert in this field: “Different tenant and owner requirements as regards housing-related services are only to be expected. But I hadn’t imagined that we’d find differences in demand for car-sharing and bike rental too.”

Arash Houshmand recently assumed the role as head of the housing platform at Aareon. The start-up expert gained experience as founder and managing director and now renders innovative start-up ideas for the housing industry.
Photo: Aareon AG, Mainz, Germany

Now that Aareon has a good overview of the needs and challenges in the individual national markets, it is up to the company to assess potential and set priorities. One of these priorities is undoubtedly handyman services, which are in high demand everywhere, particularly in Germany. “We’ll probably address this topic at the outset,” says Houshmand. Preparations for the first new developments are currently under way. Although the experts take an international view, it is nevertheless apparent that the markets are extremely specific, so that new solutions cannot be transferred on a one-to-one basis but have to be developed with the respective market in mind.

Sought-after services –
results of the international study


Information regarding utilities, and internet providers in particular, is in demand in all countries. This applies to owners slightly more than to tenants, and is a general requirement of those who have just moved home. The British and the Dutch in particular would also like to see energy, mobile phone and insurance offerings.

Handyman services

These services are highly relevant for owners across the board, especially in the context of moving home. German respondents rate them particularly highly, but the Dutch, British and Swedes are interested in them too. Interest is also high among French respondents, but the life cycle plays a less significant role here.

Home care services

Help with care is quite high on the agenda in France and Sweden, but is not considered so important in Germany. The interest in such services tends to be greater in large families where a parent still lives in the household and the household income is high.

Food deliveries

No country is nearly as interested in food deliveries as France, although this service also tops the agenda in Sweden and the Netherlands. In general, a food delivery app is considered particularly important by respondents who have recently moved home and inhabitants of major cities.

Household help

Household-related services are more relevant for owners than for tenants in principle – except in the Netherlands, where tenants who have recently moved into a new home are particularly interested in services of this nature. As with many other commercial services, the household income plays a role here.

Neighbourhood assistance

In general, younger respondents and families with children tend to be more interested in a relevant app, regardless of their household income. Taking receipt of deliveries is a particularly important topic for the Germans, British, Dutch and Swedes. The French place more emphasis on the lending and borrowing of appliances.

The pressure to digitalise is becoming stronger
Quick action is required to satisfy the expectations of owners and tenants, according to Houshmand. Ultimately, digitalisation is encompassing more and more spheres of life, and today’s consumers have become used to real-time service. This is provided by digital channels such as apps or by the underlying automation of processes. In the housing industry, however, there is still plenty of potential when it comes to improving processes by means of digital solutions, while simultaneously offering new services.

“Let’s put it this way: an airline that doesn’t provide online booking will sell far fewer tickets. The pressure on the housing industry to digitalise its operations is pressure of a different kind,” says Houshmand. “A tenant won’t move out immediately if the landlord doesn’t have an online presence. But you have to put it in context: if a company can work more efficiently, quickly and cost-effectively thanks to the use of digitalised processes and perhaps keep its rent demands down as a result, it has a clear competitive edge.”

These are the app requirements
expressed by respondents

“An app that bundles all kinds of service offerings and doesn’t require you to book them on a long-term basis.”
Sweden – 54-year-old female, owner
“I’d like to see apps for transport and food delivery. It would also be good to have a service that allows you to earn various discounts when you shop in specific stores. And it would be nice to have an app via which you could arrange haircuts, medical appointments and the like.”
Sweden – 24-year-old female, tenant
“An app to determine the quality of the air or the food I eat, as well as the state of the environment.”
France – 51-year-old male, tenant
“I’d welcome being able to receive administrative documents via app, as well as make medical appointments or view expert tutorials on DIY, gardening or painting.”
France – 46-year-old female, owner
“I’d like an app to tell me when things need replacing.”
United Kingdom – 37-year-old male, tenant
“A remote-control app that I could customise for home electricals would be useful.”
United Kingdom – 55-year-old female, owner
“I’d like an all-in-one app via which you can offer services yourself as well as search for them.”
Germany – 35-year-old male, tenant
“Shopping aids, transport services, dog-sitting, care and assistance for older people.”
Germany – 58-year-old female, tenant
“An app for supermarket shopping. The order is delivered to the house on pre-arranged days or deposited at a particular location. It saves a lot of time and is good for the environment because fewer people have to drive to the shops.”
Netherlands – 42-year-old male, owner