Unusual times require strong alliances. In the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, leading associations and companies in the real estate industry have joined forces to drive the digital transformation of the real estate market. At the heart of the initiative is the need to ensure that the real estate industry functions properly. Members of the alliance include the Federal Association for the Real Estate Industry (BVFI), eBay Classifieds, Flowfact, the Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW), ImmoScout24, Immowelt, the German Real Estate Association (IVD), Sprengnetter, the German Association of Property Managers (VDIV Deutschland) and the Central Real Estate Committee (ZIA). Following an initiative by ImmoScout24, the industry alliance has developed a 10-point program for a modernisation and digitalisation push in the real estate sector.
In a position paper, the associations and companies under the hashtag #GemeinsamDurchDieKrise (#TogetherThroughTheCrisis) show ways how a successful digitalisation of the industry, processes and services in the field of construction and real estate transactions can be achieved. To this end, they are seeking the support of the legislator as well as the federal, state and local authorities. Because only by working together will it be possible to prevent a market standstill in the wake of the corona pandemic and the resulting economic damage.
"In view of the corona pandemic, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the steps and processes involved in renting and leasing, as well as buying and selling a property have so far been far too bureaucratic, analogue and offline. We have joined forces because in the current situation we have to stick together more than ever before, in order to support all industry players as best we can for the time during and after the crisis. If we want to maintain the real estate market for all market participants at the dynamic level of before corona, we must quickly and vehemently adapt regulations and processes to the changed situation," explain the industry experts.
In the form of various immediate measures and innovative products, the companies and associations are making a significant contribution to keeping the German real estate market robust and stable during the crisis. Demand, supply and property prices have remained stable, and the market dynamics are in place. This benefits tenants, owners, agents and managers alike. In order to support the economy, politicians have also launched a wealth of laws and regulations at an impressive pace.
Nevertheless, the merger of the sector heavyweights still sees an urgent need for action: "Housing is a basic need. Real estate is an essential component of retirement provision. For a healthy and strong economy, we need an equally healthy and stable real estate industry. The current challenges are not just temporary, but are becoming the new norm. In the interests of all market participants - property seekers, owners, agents and administrators - we must find suitable answers to them. Digital solutions work contactless, and will greatly simplify and accelerate processes. Only with a digitalisation push can we continue to ensure the functionality of the real estate market".
In order to implement contactless digital solutions and to be able to offer them nationwide, government and its administration are called upon to create the legal and administrative framework and suitable conditions across many areas of the industry. This includes, in regards to building permits, adaptation of the right of objection, inspection of land register documents, obligations to be present at notarisations and owners' meetings, and digital application procedures.
The alliance #GemeinamDurchDieKrise (#TogetherThroughTheCrisis) invites representatives of politics and administration as well as consumer protection and owners' associations to a personal, virtual exchange of views and puts the following points up for discussion.
10-point program for an operational real estate market
In a 10-point program, the alliance has defined the essential steps that must be implemented promptly by politics and business together.
- In order to counteract the acute housing shortage, federal states and municipalities must digitise and accelerate building permit procedures. This is the only way to continue building activity and create new housing for people.
- To speed up the application and approval process, citizens must be able to apply for housing benefit online. Only if the housing benefit flows quickly will landlords be able to meet their obligations towards employees or contractors.
- The real estate industry is committed to reducing personal visits to the flat to a minimum and to massively expanding virtual visits. Nevertheless, housing inspections must be further possible. The legislator should adjust the right of withdrawal for distance selling rental contracts, so that contracting parties cannot withdraw from a rental contract because they have only viewed the property virtually.
- The market still needs access to responsible financing. Here too, all the necessary steps to obtain a loan or mortgage commitment must ideally be possible in digital form and without personal contact. The same applies to inspections in the course of property valuations.
- Institutions, authorities and offices should guarantee access to all transaction documents, such as land register entries in digital form.
- The real estate industry is committed to facilitating and simplifying legal transactions in digital form. To this end, it is continuing to switch to paperless application and contract documents.
- The notarisation of purchase contracts is essential for a functioning real estate market. Legislators and chambers of notaries must therefore safeguard notarial authentication and allow digital solutions to be used here too.
- In order to make the legally secure, digital transfer of rental and purchase objects possible, the property sector has set itself the goal of developing joint mechanisms. These procedures should cover the handover of the apartment or keys, the final inspection of an apartment, as well as the reading of meter readings and removals.
- What applies to association and stock corporation law should also be applied to residential property law: The legislator should therefore make it possible for owners' meetings to be held online.
- The real estate industry is committed to the promotion and expansion of digital online training courses as a means of further training for real estate agents and property managers.
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