Interview: To Avoid The Sharks, Brno Company Creates a Public Real Estate Knowledge Database for Expats
“The Real Estate sector has always attracted and will continue to attract pushy careerists. Anyone who is not so devious will always come out worse – that is, most ordinary people who just want to buy or sell a property,” says Marek Viktor, one of the founders of RELP, a unique knowledge database of the Czech real estate market for expats. RELP will gather and publish a set of 60 expert articles on buying and selling property in the Czech Republic. RELP authors will also recommend trusted real estate agents to make sure everyone can get fair treatment at a fair price. Photo via Brno Daily Freepik.
Why did you decide to establish Relp?
MV: The basic idea for something similar to Relp has been in the making for a long time, it was not a one-time thing. I have been involved in the real estate business for the last 10 years, during which time I graduated from the Faculty of Law, and then started working with the Brno Expat Center (BEC), where I helped foreigners with legal problems and continue to help them with their property issues. When I saw the current poor situation in the property market, which is not even completely safe for Czech people, and I saw the problems foreigners face, I realised that for anyone unfamiliar with Czech laws and customs in the property market, entering this market is a deadly combination. However, at the same time, I was already thinking about leaving my job as a real estate broker and focusing more on law and other projects, so timewise I was not able to keep helping a larger number of clients personally. Therefore, I decided to create a database of all the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years and provide it to all people, so they have a significantly better chance of success in the property market.
Thanks to the cooperation with BEC, I met with the second of the founders, Tomáš Ryšánek, and he actually had the same ideas, only he focused on mortgage loans and financing as such, which are two things closely related in real estate. And thanks to this connection, the idea arose of RELP as it exists today, with all the information on how to make a property trade turn out well in one place.
What can you offer clients that the regular real estate agencies can not?
MV: First of all, it is necessary to realize that we are not a real estate agency. In fact, the comparison is not entirely possible. And if we want to compare RELP and a real estate agency, we are just describing how they both work. And here we can see that in this way it is actually the exact opposite.
While a regular real estate agency wants to provide the client with as little information as possible and wrap it up in marketing talk so that the property being sold looks its best. They hide all contact between the seller and the buyer to make sure the buyer and seller do not seal a deal without them and, above all, generally try to provide just enough information to look like a simply indispensable link in the sales process, so they get a commission. RELP works completely differently. We don’t have any properties on offer, we don’t present anything to make it look great. And we’re not saying “you can’t do it without us.”
Do you plan to expand your services in the future?
MV: If you look at the RELP.cz website, you will see there is very little information at the moment. Nevertheless, the database of articles we want to host on the website contains over 60 consecutive and logically linked articles, which will really describe every property deal from A to Z. However, we have decided not to release these articles all at once, but gradually, about 1-2 per week. This is to give us time and a kind of living and evolving “organism” that will create a community of people who are interested in the topics, or may be interested in the future, and especially not to overwhelm people with information right at the beginning without giving them the opportunity to learn gradually.
If I can still remember, when I had to wait another week for the next episode of a series, it was much more exciting than today when I can sit down with Netflix and binge the whole series in one night. However, we do not deny people’s right to all the information that we are talking about! If they have any questions, they can submit them in the form on our website and we will answer within 48 hours, usually much sooner!
We also plan to expand RELP with a mortgage calculator for foreigners, an online property value estimator, and several other tools that will help people find their way around the property market even better, and navigate with greater confidence and ease!
What is the current situation in the real estate market?
MV: It depends who you ask – from the point of view of a real estate agency, then great. From the point of view of lawyers, perfect. From the point of view of buyers and sellers, nothing good. If it was true before that in the real estate market the client is a kind of hostage to real estate agencies, developers, and so on, now it is even more true. Sellers have been told for the last year that prices will soon start to fall, and they should sell immediately if they do not want to lose out. And buyers are told that prices will continue to skyrocket, so they should buy immediately if they don’t want to pay too much.
In fact, we can’t generalize like this at all, and it differs from case to case whether the buyer or the seller has the upper hand. Unfortunately, we are not able to teach someone with no experience to have a feel for the situation, just with the help of internet articles. This requires experience, and a willingness to share that only specialists have, those who are able to tell you “on the spot” whether the situation is good for you or not. What we can offer is a guarantee that if we recommend someone, we make sure that this person proceeds in the spirit of RELP and tells you the truth about how things really are. And that they won’t beautify anything to push you to make a deal.
Do you expect the situation to change in the future?
MV: There has always been good money for little work in real estate. It has always attracted and will continue to attract pushy careerists. Anyone who is not so devious will always come out worse – that is, most ordinary people who just want to buy or sell a property. Only providing as little space as possible for these “sharks” can change that.
One way to achieve this is to educate people. This was one of the main reasons for setting up RELP. However, we’re not kidding ourselves, most people deal with buying or selling real estate once or twice in their lifetime, and few are willing to spend days or weeks studying it in detail. So the vast majority always reach for the simpler option, which is to put their trust in someone who claims to understand the process and arrange it for you. So this can change only very little and very slowly. For this reason, when founding RELP, we decided to start working with real estate agents, who we will test with all our knowledge and experience so we can recommend the simpler option, but with a guarantee of quality. As a result, there will be no room in the market for dishonesty, and positive change will come faster and more efficiently. So overall yes, I expect something to change! I expect that change will be for the better and that we will be an essential part of this change.
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