The real estate sector continues its fluctuating trend also for 2023.
Thanks to numerous factors that had already been highlighted by a Nomisma study at the beginning of the year and which were confirmed during the presentation of the second report presented in the summer.
The reasons? Certainly global events such as the Ukraine-Russia war and the continuous rise in rates by the ECB, just to name a couple, to which today is added the new conflict on the Gaza Strip and a conservative trend towards investments.
Alongside all this, there is an urgent need to make the real estate sector, one of the most polluting and energy-intensive sectors, more sustainable in practice; not only for a green sensitivity that increasingly matures from generation to generation, starting from the youngest, but also to satisfy the European "Green Homes" Directive which, albeit timidly and with various changes, has indicated 2033 as the final deadline for renovating old houses and start making them more energy efficient.
read also Green Homes Directive, the agreement is missing, all postponed to December Although the road ahead is still long and complex, it is precisely from the fringes of young and promising entrepreneurs that innovative ideas and solutions are being born to modernize this sector and finally make it smart from technological and environmentally friendly point of view.
We talked about it with Angelo Abate, CEO & Co-Founder of Gumpab, a startup operating in the eco-sustainable real estate investment sector which has raised almost six million euros through crowdfunding and has tripled its turnover since 2020, the year it was founded.
Q: You define yourselves as "real estate deconstructors" even though you operate in this sector.
It is clearly a provocation and a very strong message.
Can you explain the meaning and why? A: Congratulations.
You got our message right.
We are a company with a very low average age for the real estate sector, around 30 years.
We are the gamechangers of the sector, if we deal with society's stereotypes towards the figures present in this world.
Real estate has remained in the 70s, and today it is one of the most polluting sectors with a lack of regulations and transparency that exists.
I personally have been in real estate since 2007, I started my career as a real estate agent at 20 years old and as I gradually climbed the ladder to create a real estate investment company (which is a combination of finance, real estate and construction ), I understood how much this world was still anchored to compromises, customs and lack of values that I would like to see no longer exist in a future society.
It was precisely by searching on Google for a term that could explain the idea of re-establishing the real estate sector that we discovered the concept of "building deconstruction".
And so we took that as our “payoff”.
The concept of deconstruction belongs to a French philosopher Jacques Derrida, and enhances the concept of depriving an entire sector of its usual and now stereotyped characteristics or attitudes.
In addition to wanting to deconstruct real estate in its paradigms and values, we have also developed an eco-sustainable model, made up of 6 fundamental indices, very well known in France.
In fact, building deconstruction refers to a process through which we try not to demolish buildings and carry out a recycling and reuse design of the materials present, capable of generating 75% less CO2 compared to a classic demolition intervention.
reconstruction, despite the demolition, would allow us to increase volumes and therefore increase the profits of the investment operation.
We prefer to earn less, but not cause harm to the environment.
And we really do it, not for green washing (another incorrect practice that unfortunately too many old world entrepreneurs still use).
To help you understand how we want to deconstruct real estate, I'll quickly explain what we do.
We are against speculation of any nature, a true social stereotype of the real estate developer.
We practice business management to obtain the right profit with a win-win economic model between buyer and seller.
With this philosophy we have created policies based on clear rules: We do not purchase properties at auction if we cannot write off the executor's debts and/or help him start again after losing his home.
We purchase or take over failed construction sites only if we are able capable of helping the mass of creditors in a healthy way and proportional to the value of the credit.
We offer free financial education training courses to educate people on how to manage money, so that they do not risk losing their home during the their lives.
We train people who have lost their homes and their children at auction free of charge and specifically, to prevent it from happening again.
We do not demolish buildings unless necessary (Demolishing a building and then rebuilding it using new volume is highly polluting as demonstrated by the Legambiente 2022 reports).
We do not accept "black money" from our potential buyers (a real scourge of the sector).
We advise against the purchase of the first home to people who do not have full control of their finances.
We train through a school for entrepreneurs, our partner construction companies and their owners, to help them become better people and entrepreneurs, able to better manage their human resources and increase profits.
We set the amounts of renovations for construction companies on basic, appropriate tariffs with the work to be carried out, so as to be able to close win-win commercial agreements, and not take advantage of situations of need to "choke" the artisans and companies that work on our construction sites.
We do not take advantage of the conditions of economic necessity of the sellers.
We have created an algorithm capable of defining an ethical offer based on the numbers of the operation and not on the needs of the seller.
In this way our operators do not "speculate" on the economic difficulty of the sellers, but make a proposal consistent with the market value of the property to allow us to generate the right profit for our company and not fall back into speculative greed .
We create win-win relationships with all parties involved.
All this means deconstructing real estate.
This is our challenge.
Q: How did the business idea for Gumpab come about? A: Gumpab was born on March 3, 2020, with the idea of revolutionizing real estate investments.
A crucial element is that March 3, 2020 came just seven days before the lockdown began.
This fact, instead of discouraging us, has become a source of stimulus.
Initially, we didn't know how to approach this challenge, but after seven days, we found ourselves having to learn to see real estate in a world that was rapidly changing.
Fortunately, my past experience, which includes creating my first company at 14 as one of eBay's first power sellers in Italy in 2001, has made me familiar with entrepreneurial risk and challenges.
During the lockdown, we became the first company in Italy to complete a sale completely online.
This was possible thanks to one of our real estate agents who lived just 200 meters from the property for sale.
In those days, when travel was limited to 200 meters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he made a video call to us, and we presented our offer using our digital signature system, developed by one of my other companies.
The offer was accepted, we concluded the purchase and the news caught the attention of the newspaper “Il Foglio”.
From that moment, we knew we were taking an innovative and bold path, aiming to achieve the seemingly impossible.
We began developing the technology side of the business and recruiting talent, building relationships to access new opportunities.
Today, Gumpab is a consolidated reality, and this year we expect to reach a turnover of around 4.5 million euros.
Q: How much has technological innovation become a determining factor in the real estate sector and how have you integrated it into Gumpab? A: Real estate, as I mentioned, is currently one of the sectors in which technology has made the least giant strides.
There are small revolutions underway, but a real disruption like other sectors has not yet occurred.
In the meantime, we have carried out an innovation in the operational processes which has allowed us, in our latest building, to renovate 18 apartments in 10 months, approximately 16.6 days for each 75m2 apartment, a real leap in quality.
We are now working on an AI platform that allows all real estate investors to reduce analysis times and costs as well as investment risk.
Q: What are the major critical issues in the real estate sector today? Is it still worth investing in this sector? A: The critical issues present today mainly concern the search for manpower, the lack of production and specialized technicians and a supply chain not ready to meet the production times of a new way of doing real estate.
Today I believe that real estate is still a very profitable sector if it operates in an alternative and innovative way.
Q: Real estate sector and environmental sustainability: how far do we still have to go so that this combination is no longer an oxymoron but normality? A: We are at the beginning of this cultural change.
To date, 39% of CO2 in the world is generated by the construction sector.
The new European regulation on green homes will greatly revolutionize the regulations on renovations and I hope that this will change the rules of the game on sustainability in this sector.
Q: As we have seen to date you have had a lot of success, what are the objectives for 2024? A: Thank you.
In 2024 we would like to spread our philosophy in the sector to as many entrepreneurs as possible.
Then consolidate our operating model on remanufacturing processes to create all procedures and standardize it.
Finally, proceed quickly with the development of the technological platform to allow everyone to make real estate investments simply and faster than today's standards.
It will be fun to see what happens.
The real estate sector continues its fluctuating trend also for 2023.