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Location is the most difficult thing to change – the preferences of buyers of residential units under scrutiny

27 September 2017

At the moment, the demand on the housing market is higher than developers’ output. Units are sold already at the stage of a hole in the ground. Developers are trying to outdo each other in ideas to attract buyers, not only through advertising, but also by better product placement. But what if, at the stage of development planning, they err in identifying the expectations of those whom they want to attract? How do Poles really want to live? Do they know that for sure when they decide to buy a flat?

It is obvious that families want to live in a different way than those who run single-person households. However, are the selection criteria the same for buy-to-let investors? Not necessarily, it seems. If we assume that the preferences of tenants coincide with the expectations of buyers, the scale of interest in studio units in the groups that are potentially most interested in renting (i.e. couples without children or singles) did not exceed 25% at the end of September. At the same time, as many as 36% of buyers who intend to rent the unit think that the purchase of a studio is a good idea. Another 50% of them intend to buy one-bedroom units. Interestingly, even in May, investors were more interested in purchasing larger units; at the time, the respective shares were 26% and 56%.

Buyer is volatile

The question about the preferences of buyers of residential units has always been important to developers and other entities related to the residential market: architects, members of local governments, banks providing the financing and investors operating on the rental market. REAS has been conducting research on those preferences virtually since the establishment of the company. However, there have always been problems related to the selection of a relevant subject group and the implementation of the study with such a frequency and scale that would make it possible to observe the changing trends, explains Kazimierz Kirejczyk, President of the Management Board of REAS. What helped us to address the problem was modern technology in the form of OBIDO.

The use of the advanced method of collecting and processing data on which the OBIDO platform is based made it possible to observe how the preferences of buyers change not only in longer periods of time and in large groups of buyers, but also during a single purchase process. For a statistical Pole buying a residential unit, it is easiest to change the preference concerning the price of the purchase, which may be quite surprising. In turn, the most difficult changes are those concerning the preferred location. Moreover, one buyer can change his or her preferences even 18 times since the original decision to start looking for a unit to buy.

We have created OBIDO to help Poles to buy their ideal flat, but the longer we analysed the process, the more complex it turned out to be. It was not enough to get to know the age, family status or the financial capabilities, and then present the offer. We had to approach each customer individually, analyse their requirements and give them the feeling of having made the best possible choice, explains Paweł Gniadkowski, President of the Management Board and co-founder of OBIDO. It turned out that, in the process, we gather enormous amounts of data that can be used for much broader analyses.

Micro approach, macro scale

Indeed, the scale is impressive. The study conducted by REAS in September was based on a sample of 7,380 people. If we take into account that, up to now, the OBIDO platform has been used by over 30,000 buyers, it may be considered the largest research project conducted in Poland in this area. Due to its scale, the project joined by REAS and OBIDO will enable an in-depth analysis of changes and trends and will make it possible to draw statistically valid conclusions. At the same time, it will make it possible to reach the accuracy of opinions about particular units or developments that is only available in focus studies.

From the point of view of a sales director of a development company, the result of the research is invaluable. It is particularly helpful if we can link particular types of buyers with the features that are most important for them. If we know, for example, that women aged 25–35 pay particular attention to some specific attribute when taking their decision, we can emphasise this information in our communication, while omitting what is irrelevant for that group of clients. This knowledge is all the more precious because it is based on hard data and not on seller’s intuition, says Monika Śliwa, Marketing Director of Victoria Dom. The research will also make it possible for the developer to obtain an absolutely unique answer to the question of why somebody did NOT buy a given flat, which will help them to better prepare next projects.

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OBIDO - the largest platform for primary market clients based on the ‘segment of one’ model. Over two years, the platform has helped thousands of Poles to find their dream flat. By using elements of AI, it is able to take into account the complex decision-making process characteristic of the property market. We develop the most advanced residential client profiles and acquire over 6,000 clients per month in Warszawa, Kraków and Wrocław alone.