We talked to Dr. Titus Albrecht, CEO at realxdata, about real estate analytics, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Titus Albrecht: The needs and health of our employees and their families are a top priority for us. That said, we had some families in quarantine but no severe COVID cases. However, the situation demands strong nerves, flexibility, and mutual support from all of us and I have to say: our realxdata team and their families are doing an amazing job.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded realxdata.
Dr. Titus Albrecht: I am a business economist and real estate manager by training holding degrees from the TU Berlin, the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) and from the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. Before I started realxdata, I was a portfolio manager at Union Investment and a senior consultant at EY. In my first job, I spent a lot of time doing real estate market research and data crunching. The acquisition, compilation, and preparation of real estate data for analysis and decision-making regarding real estate investments consumed a lot of time and a lot of nerves.
In the end, it was always particularly painful to realize that much of the data, when it was finally used for decision-making, was either no longer up to date or the decision was still made on gut feeling.
My initial thought was this work can be done a million times faster and with a much smaller margin of error by a well-trained computer than by any human. Why isn’t anyone in the real estate industry actually using artificial intelligence and machine learning to do exactly these kinds of tasks? The time and cost savings would be enormous.
Then I had the idea: How about not only making market data accessible in this way but also linking this market data with portfolio data? To do this, however, the portfolio data must also be prepared in a uniform manner – which a well-programmed algorithm would also be able to do in no time.
When I looked into the topic more closely, it became clear: others were also thinking along these lines. realxdata was therefore founded by a team, more precisely by Daniel Sprünker, Stefan Nusche, Iñaki Merino, and me.
How does realxdata innovate?
Dr. Titus Albrecht: It is fair to say that our technologies and products belong to the most advanced available to real estate transaction teams and portfolio managers. That is mainly because of our excellent team of very well-trained young talents. They are very skilled real estate specialists, geo-data and KI experts, and programmers. And we are all very curious and committed to developing the best technologies for the real estate sector.
On the other hand, as a young and agile company, we have an advantage when it comes to quickly implement or discarding ideas. We can simply try out many things during ongoing operations. This also gives us an edge over the competition when working with our customers. In some respects, we are something like the outsourced R&D unit. At the same time, we can offer products and services that have already been tried and tested and that make the day-to-day business of transaction teams, portfolio managers and investors, more convenient and effective.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business and how are you coping?
Dr. Titus Albrecht: As a technology company driven by digitization, we provide a platform and cloud-based solutions for real estate transaction teams, portfolio managers, real estate investors, and developers. One effect we observe: Since the pandemic strategic technology timelines have shrunk from several years to a few months. This provides a window of opportunity for many businesses to invest in technologies and allows us to address their demand with our services and products.
One of the major weaknesses that have become very obvious in recent months: Germany lags far behind other countries in digitization. For example, there are hardly any fiber-optic lines, nor is there a good and adequately funded digital strategy. This affects the entire economy, administration, and our daily lives. We hope that this pandemic is also a wake-up call to the relevant political decision-makers.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Titus Albrecht: Ideally, no management decision should be taken lightly. That was true before Corona and will be true after. The keywords here are responsibility and empathy. We are monitoring the situation very closely but have not had to make any major adjustments to our company strategy.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Dr. Titus Albrecht: Technically, we use a whole range of different meeting tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and others to communicate with each other and with our customers. Right from the start we have been very well equipped for working remotely. We work completely cloud-based for example. We are always operational. On an interpersonal level, we all have to be considerate and mindful of each other. Especially when there are children at home during work hours. It is also particularly important to listen to each other very carefully while direct personal contact is limited. Apart from all that, we will all be very happy when it is possible to meet again in person on-site with the team and with customers.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dr. Titus Albrecht: As a young emerging company, it is always advantageous to carve out your own economic niche. We have done this successfully. Our core competence is to provide real estate transaction teams and investors with the tools and digital infrastructure to give them a clear market advantage. We also have a very high level of expertise regarding real estate market analysis. And we have a high R&D competence.
We are also different from many other market players because we put a lot of emphasis on working with very successful service partners sharing our mindset, such as the data room provider Drooms. So, we are building a true real estate transaction ecosystem for the digital age. Our strategy is not only to stay in the game but to establish new standards for the whole industry.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Titus Albrecht: I came across a saying the other day that made me think about the last months. It says: “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do”. However, I would prefer to say resilient people do. And by resilience, I mean our ingenuity as humans, our ability to cooperate, our sympathy for those who have been hard hit. At realxdata, we believe that mutual trust and collaboration, confidence in technology, science, and data will take us further – both in our industry and in society.