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Discover Vincent Dumont : From Immoweb to instant property buying with Wesold

Vincent Dumont Wesold BeeBonds Podcast

In this new episode of the BeeBonds podcast, we invite you to discover Vincent Dumont, one of the project leaders of the Wesold. campaign.

Vincent is in charge of development at Wesold, leader in "iBuying" or online instant property buying in Belgium.

In this episode, you'll discover : 

  • Vincent Dumont's career at Immoweb ;
  • What is iBuying ;
  • How the Wesold platform was launched;
  • What are the advantages and target audience of the Wesold service?
  • Why Wesold turned to BeeBonds.

Discover the Wesold campaign.

Transcript

Tarik Hennen

Welcome to another episode of the BeeBonds podcast, in which we have the pleasure of welcoming Vincent Dumont.

Vincent Dumont

Hello.

Tarik

Hello Vincent. Thank you for joining us today to talk about Wesold, an instant property acquisition platform.

Vincent

And that's it.

Tarik

which has just launched a crowdlending on Beebonds.

Vincent

Yes.

Tarik

Before we talk about that, we'd like to know a bit more about you and where you come from. So, when we consult your LinkedIn profileIn 2005, you obtained a degree in finance, marketing, strategy and people management from the University of Paris. Solvay Business School. 

You then went on to do a master's degree in business coaching and in 2007 you joined the Immoweb platform, where you spent more than ten years. Chief Experience Officer.

You've worked at a high level in the group, so you're no novice when it comes to the real estate platform. Before talking about Wesold, can you tell us a little about your career at Immoweb and what you've been able to learn? 

Vincent

More precisely, 11 years ago at Immowebfrom 2007 to 2018. I joined Immoweb when it was little more than a start-up. I'd go so far as to say it was in the infancy of the Internet in Belgium. At the end it was starting to work properly, but it was really early days. So there were 25 of us at Immo Web, and we were still losing money. That's when we had to rethink the whole business strategy to make Immoweb the absolute market leader it is today. So I mainly worked on creating an online audience, and then everything to do with redesigning the platform, creating offers, discussions with professionals and so on.

Vincent

Somehow that was my daily life, which I didn't even feel because the 11 years passed as if it was a year. That's how it was. So it was really an experience, I think in terms of property market extremely interesting.

Tarik

Would you say that the biggest challenge was the technology, the teams or the mentality and habits of the customers?

Vincent

So, a bit of everything. I'd say we didn't have it easy with the agencies, who saw us both as an extraordinary tool and as a competitor, since on ImmowebPrivate buyers are welcome. Having said that, I'd like to reassure the agencies once again that for the last 20 years, the percentage of private individuals who sell direct has remained the same, so it's still almost a 50-50 market. The second point was technology. Yes, but at the start, there was no technology.

There weren't as many tools available to really measure advertising investment. Immoweb very, very early on, took the gamble of investing massively in offline advertising, so really doing everything online. I think that's what got it where it is today. 

And then, in terms of mentality and on the other hand, the public's enthusiasm has been almost direct. We've managed to set up a virtuous circle with the largest audience visiting the largest number of properties. And it's been like that for about 20 years now, I'd say. 

Tarik

So the challenge you're facing today is to Wesold.

Vincent

Yes,

Tarik

A platform that makes iBuying. So, can you explain what this is all about?

Vincent

So iBuyingIt's a concept that originated in the United States, where it's fashionable to put i's in front of nouns. But basically, it's instant selling, instant buying and instant property transactions. In the United States, the leader is Open Door, which was launched over ten years ago and which, thanks to the fluidity of the American market, is now very, very successful in this market. So the principle is simple: we digitalise as many processes as possible.

We're going very, very far in thinking about what we call marketing automation, and so on. In the end, this will enable us to bypass or at least shorten a huge number of stages, so that anyone wishing to sell can receive a firm and definitive offer within 48 hours. So that's really the revolution that theiBuying in Belgium compared to all other traditional sales methods.

Tarik

And so we are faced with a concept that is both revolutionary and tried and tested. It's a concept that exists, that's widespread and that's operated by companies listed on the stock exchange in the United States, and now it's coming to Belgium on the initiative of Denis Van Damme and the team you manage.

Vincent

So, maybe we'll just go back a bit in time to the property market. So, if we go back 20, 30 years in Belgium, we're selling 130, 140 houses, 130,000 property sales transactions in Belgium. That's the norm. 30 years ago, this was done with a few words in a paper newspaper. Now it's done with 48 photos, descriptive text, video, etc.

But at the end of the day, we're still selling 130,000 houses. And where 30 years ago, they were sold within 3 to 5 months, that was the selling period, the length of a transaction. Today, it's still 3 to 5 months. So the market, on the whole, is extremely solid, particularly in Belgium.

 The number of transactions is stable. It came through the crises during the subprime crisis. There wasn't much of a drop during the covid crisis. Neither, therefore, are the number of transactions or prices particularly stable on the Belgian market. So, in a way, what does iBuying, it's just a matter of reinventing processes and exploiting the possibilities offered by modern technology to go much faster in the relationship with the customer. And that means we can make an offer in 48 hours.

Tarik

So let's take the seller's perspective. Today, I want to sell a house and I'm going to sell it quickly. So I go to your site, enter a series of details and fill in a form. I receive an offer. Yes, and basically I take care of almost nothing. But the sale goes through the normal cycle of notarial deed, offer and compromise.

Vincent

Obviously, we can't change all the laws directly. So it's clear that from the moment the offer is accepted, we return to the traditional sales system, i.e. we have to go to the notary, etc., to confirm the transaction, to make it official. To confirm the transaction, to make it official. But before that, a traditional sale will take some time. Typically, you place an advert. You'll find an estate agent for a month, two months, three months, and there will be visits based on the offers you receive.

These offers are subject to conditions precedent. So, if the property has not been correctly valued at the outset, we will wait, wait, wait, so that we can stay for six months with a property that is not selling, but for which there are viewings, etc. And so, this is just the counterweight, I would say or the counterbalance that we try to have with our offers. So that's just the counterweight, I'd say, or the counterbalance that we're trying to have with Wesold. In other words, if your property is eligible and meets the criteria, we will make you an offer.

Vincent

If you accept the offer within 48 hours, it's a done deal. You don't have to worry about anything else. Things will take their course with the notaries, etc.

Tarik

So when you were preparing this podcast, you told me about the fact that you had a very specific target and a very specific positioning on the quantity of transactions that would fit into this concept. Can you come back to that?

Vincent

Yes, then. It is currently estimated that around 1% of sales transactions in Belgium are likely to be taken over by e-buying. Why 1 %? Because we have to start from a certain figure and it seemed realistic to us in the light of a certain amount of data we had. 

1% is still 1400 transactions a yearSo it's already a pretty big deal. We're convinced that the more we develop over time and the more automated our processes become, the higher we'll be able to go.

Vincent

And gradually, perhaps move towards 2 or 3, 4 %, 5% market that is likely to enter a process iBuying. So it's not the whole market we're really targeting, but the niche is relatively important. That's the first thing. 

Secondly, not all goods are eligible, obviously to make a profit. iBuying. In general, luxury properties are not at all sought-after, and smaller properties, such as flats in the provinces, are not in demand. are less attractive because, in Belgium, you still have to pay registration duty on all transactions, even in the case of iBuying. Obviously, this has to be taken into account in the offers and resale opportunities for the property.

Tarik

So we've seen it in your profile. So you have a track record in innovation and technology. And this is a good opportunity to point out that anything new is scary. I've forgotten the quote, but at first you think, you get scared, you think it's crazy. And then it becomes the norm. 

So I think you've been through this cycle in your already rich career. And we're going to put ourselves in the shoes of people who aren't familiar with this concept and who might think we're playing devil's advocate here.

But isn't itas the real estate market becomes more ubiquitousr who will take advantage of people who want to sell a house. So let's break it down a bit

I'm not part of this market, but my perception is that you're operating on a very specific fringe of the market, as you said, and that there's already a well-established player in instant property sales called forced public sales. So, when you do a property valuation, you see the three values.

So quick sales happen every day, often with a notary and bailiffs. And generally, they don't go down too well. So what I mean is, can I say that, in the end, you are no longer an alternative to this kind of procedure, but rather a creator of the uberisation of property transactions?

Vincent

Yes, well, first of all, uberisation is very difficult to define. Immoweb has also been called the Uber of real estate. I believe that uberisation is simply a response to sociological change. It's not us, there's no one who decides how society evolves. It just so happens that technology is being used more and more by everyone. People now book their travel on the Internet, they no longer go to a tour operator, and in real estate too, a number of things are happening. A number of things are also happening.

So where it is possible to simply simplify processes that are extremely long and sometimes costly. And I think that everyone tends to try and get into something that allows them to be more efficient. 

Tarik

I say this to put things into context, because forced public sales are one thing, but fortunately not everyone goes through them. There's also a mechanism upstream where people know they're going to go. But there is already a bit of a quick sale market in general.

Finally, you give structure and transparency to something that happens every day.

Anyone who takes real estate seriously knows how it works. You have to find motivated sellers.

Vincent

That's right, but the target is people who either have assets or inherited property. We're not against private individuals or notaries. We've just...

Tarik

Complete the system. Yes, because on the other hand, I would say that once again the concept is in line with what exists today. We also have the bridge loan. I think a lot more people have gone through this. So, I'm changing home for family reasons, moving house

Vincent

Exactly.

Tarik

A bridge loanIt's a move, it involves risks. So you're also facilitating this kind of transition in the end.

Vincent

Ah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think if there's a bridge loan risk, a quick sale can take your mind off it completely, a bridge loan it's quite stressful and, incidentally, it's very expensive.

Tarik

Yes, it's stressful, expensive and relatively random.

Vincent

Yes.

Tarik

So, if we come back to the analysis of your business model, your structure. So you're not just a platform with a platform dimension, but you're also in the business of buying and selling. Finally, there's also a property operator dimension.

We've talked about Uber, taxis, I mean you, you're " skin in the game in the transactions that take place?

Vincent

Yes, absolutely. So, of course, there's the purchase, which is the showcase we offer with Wesold, and then there's the renovation, the upgrading, the division into units, if it's a unit: a single-family home that can be divided up, etc. And then, finally, the resale or letting. And then, finally, resale or letting. So that's the overall business that keeps Wesold busy.

Tarik

And therefore this know-how and this profession. The team behind Wesold today has quite a track record, as you told us.

Vincent

Absolutely. Denis Van Damme has been in the business for 15 years. He has more than 250 transactions to his name, so he's very, very experienced.

Tarik

Who, by the way, is on this platform for the third time and who is therefore innovating the business with this platform for which you are in charge of the aspects, I mean the technology.

Vincent

Exactly and marketing?

Tarik

All right, then. So, as we said, you can receive an offer within 48 hours. Does everyone receive an offer to sell?

Vincent

Oh no, of course, the property has to be eligible. As I said, not all properties are eligible. Luxury properties or properties that are too small or properties that we don't know how to visit. Curiously, we receive a huge number of requests from France, for example. We can't keep up with them, firstly because the laws aren't the same and secondly because it's a long way to go to visit properties. We still have to make a visit. Then, yes, if the property falls within the framework, the offer will arrive within 48 hours.

Tarik

So today you launched BeeBonds a crowdfunding campaign that actually complements other sources of funding. Can you tell us about your other sources of funding? crowdlending?

Vincent

Yes, but we have a whole series of shareholders behind us. Wesold. The banks also have confidence in us again, thanks to Denis' experience. With 15 years' experience, our applications generally go down very, very well with the banks, so it's just one more source that we're getting from BeeBonds to enable us to move even faster on the market. 

So, for the moment, we're concentrating on Brussels. We're slowly starting to open up Walloon Brabant. There's still a lot to be done in Brussels and then, of course, we'll be expanding to cover the whole of Belgium.

Tarik

So your business model is to acquire good properties, renovate them and put them back on the market quickly. And then increase the pace. 

Vincent

So that's what it means to buy a property at a good price. It means increasing its value by carrying out a certain amount of work or simply by making it more desirable. Then putting it back on the market and realising a capital gain on the sale.

Tarik

We were talking about that too. Ultimately, it's a fairly competitive market, with players listed on the US stock exchange. In this kind of business, we're in a competitive market where supply and demand have to meet as closely as possible for things to work properly.

Vincent

Absolutely, of course, of course, of course, but it's a market where we're talking billions of euros, obviously, because we're talking about real estate. The average value of a transaction in Belgium for a house is 300,000 euros. So we're obviously talking about considerable sums.

Tarik

So I'm going to continue to play devil's advocate to make sure we've understood and analysed the issue properly. In any case, the crowdlending is analysed by professionals, but I'm going to play the role of the person who is simply trying to understand. What can we say about this concept in a time of overheating? In any case, an overheated property market where everything is selling very fast.

Tarik

How are you positioning yourself in relation to this context and the market outlook for the short and medium term?

Vincent

At the moment, there is something a little strange and anachronistic about the market. It's clear that the market is particularly dynamic, particularly fluid. Properties are almost sold before they are even put on the market. You simply have to bear in mind that this is a recovery from 9 or 12 months of activity, which was slightly reduced by the covid, because there were fewer opportunities to visit properties. So the market has slowed down. It's just the wave that's coming back and creating this particular craze.

So, of course, it's not the best time to start Wesold, but we're already managing to do a number of things. deals. So that gives us confidence that as soon as the market stabilises a little, and I think we're getting into a stabilisation phase somewhere, we'll be ready for the most difficult period so that we can perform extremely well once the situation is a little more normal.

Tarik

Yes, and an accepted offer, even if it's unconditional, doesn't mean that the deed is guaranteed at the notary's office, so that could also be another factor in positioning.

When people come to you, they know they are dealing with a solvent, professional operator, which is not always the case in today's conventional market.

Vincent

Yes Immoweb in particular. And they regularly tell me that a lot of sales 'fall through' because of the suspensive clause, because we're faced with offers and higher offers that the banks can't keep up with.

It's going to get even tougher from January 2020. New standards will be imposed on banks. So I think the market is going to have to normalise a little.

Tarik

Very good, very good. So what is your outlook here for the next few months? At the start of 2022, in concrete terms, do you mean continuing to market the pipeline, and as you said, expanding beyond Brussels?

Vincent

Yes, absolutely. So that's the first thing we're doing: we're looking for talented people to join the team. The second thing is to gradually open up more cities. At the moment, it's Brussels. The headquarter is in Brussels, but it's always easier to be local to address local markets, perhaps further afield than Belgium, but we'll see about that.

But above all, the tools are ready. Now we're going to feed them with fuel and make them work faster and faster to really get the maximum number of leads we can in this market.

Tarik

OK, thank you very much. We're delighted to have been able to spend this time with you and to discover the concept in depth. For those listening or watching, there's a descriptive note detailing all the elements of the dossier. If people have any questions, I suppose they can get in touch with you.

Vincent

Absolutely either via Linkedin or via the Wesold. Of course it is.

Tarik

Perfect, well thank you very much and all the best for this current campaign.

Vincent

It will be a pleasure. Thank you very much Tarik.

Tarik

See you soon.

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