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AI Startup Dispensing with Real Estate Brokers

While many startups take years to develop, new Finnish startup Blok has hit the headlines with how fast it’s moved and grown with its innovative real estate business. In just eight months the company has been featured among Wired’s hottest startups in Europe and as a result, has received a rather considerable seed round to help it even further.

Blok is a Helsinki-based startup that takes to the internet to showcase numerous apartments for sale and incorporates all aspects of the process including marketing, completing valuations, handling documents, taking photographs, and handing the keys over, all for a tidy sum of 0.75% of the asking price.

“Customers are surprised to find out that they really only have to open the door and show people around,” remarks Olli Gunst, CMO, and co-founder of Blok.

So far Blok has managed to sell more than 30 apartments across the Helsinki area. Collectively this has saved customers around 250,000 euros in comparison to standard agent fees that are usually between 2 and 4%.

According to the company, those properties that sold with Blok went 3 to 5 times faster than similar apartments in the same vicinity and that’s largely down to their on-demand customer service. “The other night, one customer got an instant answer to their question at 1:20 AM,” said Gunst.

Earlier this month Blok secured a seed round from the founder of the Finnish investment bank, Evli, Henrik Andersin, Erland Christoffersen, German tech fund Picus Capital, and angel investor and Supercell veteran. The company says it will use the funding to expand the team and grow the Finnish market.

By the end of the year Blok hopes to be selling approximately 50 apartments per month and the key is building consumer confidence in new technologies, says one of the co-founders, Rudi Skogman.

“We’re constantly working to increase customer confidence, and to get those consumers who adopt new technology at a slower pace to try our service,” he says. Skogman believes that the first-ever completely digital house sale will happen in 2019. By then he’s hopeful that Blok will be the leading virtual estate agent in the whole of the Nordics.

The way the service works is first Blok’s highly sophisticated AI software uses public house sale statistics to come up with an informed estimate for an apartment. The customer provides Blok with all the relevant paperwork for the apartment and it’s then marketed on local letting sites and social media.

Meanwhile, the customer gets sent all the material for viewing including signage and a housing manager certificate. Potential buyers bid through the company’s bidding platform online. If there’s no sale, there’s no fee to pay for the customer. Once the sale has been agreed, Blok handles all the paperwork on behalf of the buyer, seller, bank, and tax office.

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KC Cheung
KC Cheung has over 18 years experience in the technology industry including media, payments, and software and has a keen interest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and its applications in business. Over the years he has worked with some of the leading technology companies, building and growing dynamic teams in a fast moving international environment.
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