Real Estate IT

Huskolla - A new app for the Swedish residential market

Earlier this week I travelled with my family home to my parents place (Karlskrona) to celebrate Christmas (starting with a few days of remote work). To my surprise, the first thing I see opening the local paper (BLT); is a story about a new App (Huskolla) for the residential market! Brilliant.

In the photo: Fredrik Malmros, CEO Infotrader & Nicklas Platow CEO Rapparna.


Even if I was surprised to see the article it came as no surprise when reading about who was behind it. The company InfoTrader has been around for over 10 years creating information services for, among others, the property industry. In cooperation with Rapparna, a newly formed app consulting firm in Karlskrona, they have started the company Huskolla AB which owns the app. 


First of all the app is free to download from AppStore (an Android version is to be released). After installing the user is able to search among all single family houses and summer houses in Sweden (in total some 2 million properties) by entering an address or using the map. 

When clicking on a property an information screen appears.

The data includes: 
   * property name (id)
   * plot size
   * building area 
   * address
   * assessment value 
   * latest change in ownership (price & date) 
   * Residents name & telephone number  

In the menu to the right a number of extra services could be purchased: 
   * detailed property info   (75 SEK  ~ 8 Euro)
   * value approximation     (85 SEK  ~ 10 Euro) 
   * neighbourhood data (49 SEK  ~ 5 Euro)    
   * property boundaries (22 SEK  ~ 2 Euro)   See screenshot above.  

The data covers all single family houses and summer cottages in Sweden.
No commercial buildings or farms.

Of course, it also includes augmented  functionality.


My Thoughts

To my knowledge this one of the first services (regardless of App or not) that for the public makes it extremely easy to find the property name, size, assessment data and so on. (There are a number of professional services that shows more detailed info but also demands an agreement from the government to use.) There is a service provided by the Swedish Land Register, but it cost 50 SEK per report and has no mapping functionality. 

What I find most interesting is that the name and telephone number is displayed. I've never seen a service (for the public) that displays this data. However, as stated in the App it isn't the 'titled owner', instead it is the registered resident in the building (in Swedish 'folkbokförd'). In other words, this data is not extracted from the Swedish Land Register. 

It will be interesting to follow how this service (and other like it) will evolve in the future. The potential in apps will for sure unlock lots of interesting data. 


Live stream from the 'Kefren' property auction

Auctions of commercial properties are not common practice in Sweden. Even rarer are the ones live streamed (?) on the Internet, but tomorrow will be the last day of one of those. 

One of the largest deals ever ends up in a bankrupt

In 2006 the Danish property company Keops acquired two Swedish property portfolios from Kungsleden. The transaction was one of the largest ever pure property transactions in Swedish history (159 properties with a lettable area of 830 000 sqm).

The two portfolios together formed Keops IX, which was later renamed to Kefren Properties IX AB (The group's Swedish parent company). Earlier this year Kefren was declared bankrupt and the Properties is now auctioned via the Swedish Enforcement Authority by individual public auctions. 

High tech set up

Not only has this been the 'who-is-who' event of the year, but it has also been live streamed on the Internet! The url for today's five hours session is or go to the Catella's (the broker) page to find the current link.  

Furthermore, FastighetsVärlden (the largest paper in the industry) has been live blogging (?) with an update frequency that is only second to Engadget at an Apple keynote


My thoughts

I'm really impressed by the set up from both the broker (the streaming) and the journalists (live blogging). For sure, both are making great use of the Internet.


The story behind Hemnet's mobile apps

During the web conference 'Webbdagarna' in Göteborg last week, Hemnet presented the story behind their mobile apps. 

The presentation is streamed via Bambuser.  
Part 1:  
Part 2: 

The representative from Hemnet is Anders Nystedt, Controller Hemnet (!/enders). And yes, it's in Swedish.  


Take aways

The main points from the presentation where;


  • started in 1998
  • four different versions launched 1998, 2001, 2009 and 2011
  • 1,3 million unique web browsers per week
  • 7 million objects are viewed every week
  • average stay 10 minutes

Mobile app


  • launched in 2009 August
  • 500 000 installations
  • 140 000 unique users every week (and growing)


  • launched in 2010 July
  • 125 000 installations
  • slower growth


  • launched in 2011 January
  • 100 000 installations
  • traffic as the Android


  • ad supported 
  • especially from banks 
  • 11 million ad views per month

My thoughts

Great presentation to gain insight in the statistics about the Hemnet Apps. 


QR codes used by a Swedish commercial real estate owner

This morning I walked past a construction site down town in Stockholm and something caught my eye.  

First I thought it was the fact that it was a construction site. Remember, I've a master in Civil Engineering, but then I realised what it was. Actually, two things, the billboard is used to: 

  • ask for input regarding what services to put a street level
  • promote using QR codes 

Ask for input

By using the QR code, or the printed url, one comes to a web page with a simple input form asking for tips. There is no list, voting or any other functionality. But at least, the company is trying to get input from the neighbours and people passing by.  


What is a QR code?

The QR code is that rectangle figure in the lower right corner that looks like a printing error. Each figure has a unique pattern which could be read by a QR reader. There are a large number of different readers and many of them available as apps for 'smart phones'.


The way is works is:

     1) launch the QR app

     2) point the 'camera' at the QR code

     3) the app scans the figure

     4) the app analyse the pattern and returns a URL link

In the example above, the link is  

My thoughts

First of all, impressed by the way Wallenstam is using new technology and social media in order to create buzz around a residential project. 

Secondly, I believe the QR codes could be of great use in the commercial real estate industry. Add them to posters in empty space locations that today (just) have a number to the broker/owner. The benefit of this is that it's easy for someone that walks by to use the phone to scan the code and then surf for more details. Furthermore, (this is the best thing) the link is saved in app and could be used when wanting to go back to the information.

Here is an article about the use of it in the US with a great quote.  

"Building owners love the idea, using technology in a very competitive market. Our only cost is paper and the time to put them up," Reuter said.


The perfect residential listing service

One thing life has learnt me is not to do something (like writing an email or blog post) when you're really upset. That's why this post was delayed for four (?) years.

In 2007 my wife and I was looking around for a new place to live in the Stockholm area. In a time when so much great things were done using the Internet, I was very disappointed with the different tools available in our search.

Fast forward up to today and much has happened (especially thanks to Booli & Boliga). However, there is still much (in my book) functionality that is missing. Here is the online tool I would like to use next time I looking for a new place to live (in Sweden)...

Inventory - all your niche 

For obvious reasons, I will use the one listing service that offers me the most listings (preferable also FSBO and foreclosures). However, it does not need to be everything, but as much as possible in the niche I'm looking for.

Today everyone is aiming for everything, but I believe there is a need for niche services. If one is just looking for an apartment down town Stockholm which is of state of art quality, or smaller apartments outside of town with a 'need' for renovation, or farms in the southern of Sweden. That's what one need. Nothing else. Not the choice of single family houses, farms, cottages and, especially a list consisting all of the nations municipalities. In other words, make it easier for me to find my niche.   

An example of this is the blog 'Dagens Hem' which posted (no updates for a while though) the most awesome house listed right now.


Great mapping
Needless to say, the tool has to have a great mapping service where one can easily filter and get basic data. It's also important that any list is heavily integrated with the map (no pop-ups).

Below is a great example where one gets a lot of data without leaving the map.

 Example from Zillow.  

Detailed search through 'mechanical turk' approach
Besides the basics (addresses, type, size, price...) why not make it even easier for the user like style of architecture, bath tub, balcony south side and so on.

Below example is from the broker firm Svensk Fastighetsförmedling. They have more data on their own listings then on all listings out there, but why not solve it through 'mechanical turk' (for example students) to go through the new listings? 

Another great search parameter would be 'monthly cost' which Hemnet now days displays for apartments.

Even better if one is able to update the underlying parameters down payment, rates and so on under 'My account'. 

Define a search by a specific area or property
I believe that quite a few of the home hunters have a very defined geographical area where they are looking for a new listing. Maybe even a specific property. (In my last search, I was looking for listings in a specific property (a Co-op to be exact) for the last six months.  

There are two ways to solve this:
   1. the user draw an polygon on a map which is saved
                    (see a beta example from Booli)

   2. tie all listings to the national property id (and get the coordinates & boundaries) and
                   the user mark the area/property using a map interface

Then a notification is sent when there is a listing on that very specific market. 
Choice number two above is at least possible to implement in Sweden.

Support the 'open house' process

Most listing sites have functionality to 'save' a listing but normally not much more. 

Plan the 'Open Home Sunday'  
Why not make it easier to plan the 'Open Sundays' (big deal in Sweden) with a page with the listings in order after 'open hours'? Integrate it with a map and it would be even better. 

At the 'open home' 
Wouldn't be great to have a 'Evernote' functionality when doing the tour, to take notes and photos of the house that is uploaded (not just stored in your phone) to your 'Account' on the listing service?   

Keep track of the process for each listing
Take away the hassle of keeping track of all listings when it comes to knowing where in the process they are or any changes to the listing. For example, days on the market, price changes, latest bid, add comments, photos, calculate the key figures like price per square meter (see more below), let me rate an apartment in different ways and compare with the others ones I'm looking at and so on.  

Understanding the market

Take away the Excel part  
I guess more people then I end up using spreadsheets to keeping track of all the listings, cost per square meter, loan per sqm in the Co-Op, my ranking of each listing, my cost of living there (no, not via pop up to different banks) and so on. Why not create a tool for this? I'll for sure spend more time on your site. 

Publish the sales price 
One obvious fact that is needed in the list above is the sales price for the listings you have been looking at in order for you to understand the market. I guess most people spend 3-6 months looking for a place. For singe family houses this is a problem. The data is available from the Swedish Land Survey (added by Booli in 2008). For apartments (Co-ops) it's a bit more complicated since this data isn't (yet) collected by the state. However, maybe this data one day will be released by Mäklarstatistik, which has 70% of deals on the market (it's co owned by the two largest brokerage firms in Sweden and the brokerage associations). 

Local market data
A time saver in the effort to understand the local market is the efforts done to summarize data on a higher level. Done today by, for example by Hemnet (screenshot below), Mäklarstatistik and also Booli.

Example from Hemnet.

Example from Booli.

However, all of them on a municipality level. I want it much more narrow. For example, all sales in 'my' co-op the last 5 years or along a specific street.

Handle my investment

So, I have purchased a new place to live. Why let the buyer go away from your site? Make me come back. Help me to handle my investment. Let me add my finance deal, calculate the market value of my investment (on an ongoing basis) and make me aware of my LTV (loan to value). Make it obvious when 'my' bank is changing the rates, compare those with other banks. Inform me when an apartment is for sale in my co-op and so on. In a way, it's combining Zillow (screenshot below) with Mint


That's all (I give a way for free...)     ;-)
I feel much better now when this has finally left my shoulders.
Hemnet, Booli or anyone else, make me proud next time I'll be shopping around for a new place to live...    


A property touch in InternetWorld Sweden

Was delighted to see not one, but two articles about the property related issues in an issue of InternetWorld Sweden.

Social media in a residential property company

An interview is conducted with Thomas B. Walden, Head of Information & Marketing at Henry Ståhl Fastigheter AB. A large regional residential building and property company in Norrköping, Sweden. 

The article describes how Thomas for many years has focused on making the communication from the property company more 'human' then just a lot of technical jargon. From the knowledge of new technology he understands that the power has shifted to the individual consumer,  so one has to be where the discussion is going on. 

One example is the residential project 'Knäppingsborg' where they also use a Facebook page, with 1100+ fans, on which there right now is a discussion on which retail shops should be included. 

This project is the first and is used as trial, but they are already started to plan for an extension. The future may also include mobile applications. 

Redesign of a residential property site

In each issue of InternetWorld a web agency is invited to come up with a better design for any website of their choice. In this issue InUse (which is the firm behind Hemnet's latest update) took on the site of StockholmsHem, a large municipality owned residential property firm. 

Their aim is to, through the site, save money for the company, increase the interaction between neighboures and create a suistanable future. The result looks like a crossover between Mint & the live feed in Facebook. 

The main idea is to add and connect sensors, like measuring energy, and making it visible and comparable using the site. A great idea. 


Sweden gets 'Zestimates' when Booli teams up with Ljungqvist Information

Booli, the challenger on the Swedish residential listing market, is once again pushing the the limits of end user experience when introducing 'market price' functionality. ('Zestimates' is a verb from Zillow in the US.)

The new functionality

The user is able to see (after two 'warnings' on how it works) the 'market value approximation' directly in the listings.

How it works

The service actually provides two different values.

Värderobot (translation 'ValueRobot')  
The value is calculated through a AVM (Automated Value Model) from the Swedish company Ljungqvist Information AB. The input to the model is a large number of comparable sales that is combined with data from each unique listing regarding parameters like location, size, monthly payment and so on. 

Mäklarindikatorn  (translation 'AgentIndikator')  
More of 'Mechanical Turk' approach letting agents not involved in the listing have a say about the value. The coverage for this service is much more limited.

When displaying a listing there is new page showing both values (if they exists).


My thoughts

I think this is a great move from Booli. It will create buzz and increase traffic. There has for a long time been a topic on the Swedish market (especially in Stockholm) regarding the low 'listing price' on objects. This will give more input to the analyze done by the buyer. 

However, AVMs also have a negative side to it, it's just an approximation and not an appraisal (external valuation) for the specific object. Read more on the topic of AVM downside here, here and here. Booli really tries to make the users aware of this. There is not one, but two, warnings you have to 'click through' in order to active this service. 



"Cloud computing has fantastic potential to increase operational efficiency and, in times of cost pressure, to save money. For those bold enough to embrace it, reduced costs and increased agility will almost certainly bring competitive advantage."   /Remit Consulting  

RICS paper on the 'cloud' 

Last week, at a breakfast meeting in London, the RICS paper on 'The role of cloud computing in Commercial Property' was released. A paper written by my friends Andrew Waller and Bob Thompson at the real estate management consulting firm Remit Consulting


The focus

The writers aim to both give a background, potential but also the 'dark clouds' of the cloud based services and at the same time give 'real' examples of cloud services used within the UK property market. 

For example, did you know that CB Richard Ellis has deployed Salesforce CRM and the platform to create their own management platform in order to simplify the management of a construction project? 




The launch

Unfortunately I didn't have the time to travel to London to be part of the conversation (I'm located in Stockholm...) but thankfully, there was a hastag for the event on Twitter! 

Great work @EEPaul

Read the paper

Take the opportunity to read the paper. Even if you're aware of the cloud trend, since the most interesting part is the examples. By the way The Financial Times write a piece on it.


The new Hemnet is in Beta

The largest residential listing service in Sweden, Hemnet, has their new version in Beta since a few days. Try it out here (This is the second major overhaul within 18 months.)

New design & interface

The entire site has a much more modern look. Compare with the existing version ( or my post about it with its release last summer.


When start writing in the search box additional parameters are displayed.

As marketed before, one is now able to search multiple cities or streets in one search.


The list of results is cleaner.


The new object information page.

For more details, the user is redirected to the brokers main page for the listing.   

New functionality

As far as I am concerned Hemnet has added following new functionality.

Search multiple addresses
Direct in the search box, see above.  

Displays the number of days on the market

Total cost of ownership
For apartments (Co-ops) a total cost, including a potential financing set up, is displayed.

My thoughts

For sure a more modern feeling using the service and it's more user friendly. However, I was hoping for more features, especially after been looking at the earlier mock-ups. Hopefully, there is more to come. 

There is soo much more that could be done to making the process of home searching more efficient. More on that topic in a later post.

On the other hand, I'm a bit impressed that Hemnet, having the biggest agent associations as largest owners, has started to display the number of days a listing has been on the market. I guess there were some discussions regaring that...  (It's has been done for some while by


Hemnet launches iPAD app & focus on entertainment

Yesterday at the SIME conference (hyped Internet event in Stockholm with focus on media) Hemnet announced that they are developing an iPAD application to be released in spring. Hemnet is the largest residential listing service in Sweden.

Screenshot is from DagensMedia


The development firm Apegroup will build the app (they've also built the iPhone and Android app for Hemnet over the last year).

"Focus will be on maps, large attractive photos, inspiration and to have all information accessible in the easiest way possible" says Anders Graffman, CEO Apegroup   (my translation)

An additional feature is that it will be possible to save photos on the iPad for inspiration for future decoration projects. 

Carl-Henric Borg, CEO of Hemnet, also points out that the iPad app will:  (my translation)

"... the iPAD app could also be used as a tool for the brokers/agents to present alternative listings during an open house" 

More about Hemnet

Following the SIME event over Twitter also gave some additional insights to the Hemnet business case:

  • 1,4 million unique visitors per week    (15% of all inhabitants in Sweden!) 
  • The growth of visitors per week has been +27% over the last year 
  • 220 000 downloads of the iPhone App  
  • 3rd largest referrer is Facebook
  • 30% of the visitors use Hemnet for 'entertainment'  
  • 150 000 listings per year 
  • to list is free for the brokers
  • fee to banks for referrals for loan 

And the final news item; a new version of Hemnet's website is to be launched "later this autumn"(?). Isn't that snow in the streets of Stockholm?   ;-)   

My thoughts

Having tried US based real estate iPAD apps like Zillow (residential) and Loopnet (commercial) I believe this move by Hemnet is a clever one. 

My suggestion would be to create a specialised version of the iPAD app for the brokers/agents in order to give them a great presentation tool in their meetings/open house with the clients. Take a look at this video for Zillows iPAD app (CEO Rich Bartons blog post about it) and read this success story and you will see the benefits.

At my day job as Product Manager at Datscha, I've used iPADs extensively over the last couple of months running short sales presentations at different events/conferences and it is working brilliantly. It's easy and almost invisible to bring with you, starts in a second and you can quickly flip through a presentation (mostly used PDF over Dropbox). 

I could just imagine how great it would be for a real estate agent with a dedicated iPAD app like above.