Co-branded trustees crowded by shameless start-ups

Paris (AFP) – Biting ads and the legal battle… The rise of startups aiming to shake up the management of co-treasurers is putting real estate professionals on the defensive.

They are called Bellman, Homeland, Syndicate One, Hello Syndic… Young companies, presenting themselves as “new syndicate”, “new banks” style, offer computerized solutions to facilitate the management of trustees.

The Common Ownership Syndicate manages the common parts and fees for the building. It can be cooperative, i.e. piloted voluntarily by the co-owners, or professional, when it is entrusted to a company for a fee.

One of these new companies crystallized opponents: Matera.

Helping volunteer directors, without himself being a professional custodian, the startup split, in 2019 and 2020, is a vigorous advertising campaign that mocks traditional heavyweights in the sector.

“confusion”

Society’s reaction was swift: two lawsuits were directed against the company, specifically accusing it of illegally practicing the profession.

In the first instance, the Paris Commercial Court ruled in favor of Matera on this point, but ruled that she had committed unfair competition and deceptive business practices.

Matera has appealed, and another subpoena over similar grievances is being considered in the Paris court.

“Matera has developed an ambiguity between being a trustee or not being a trustee,” says Jean-Marc Turillion, president of the National Estate Association (FNAIM).

“For me, it is a very ridiculous case,” Matera president Rafael de Miglio replied. “They know very well that every time we present ourselves as an aid to the cooperative union,” he asserts.

Recently, the online trustees’ comparator has once again aroused the indignation of professional organizations, which accuse Matera of preparing “clickbit”, or indulging in “union bashing”.

“There are existing players defending rent who, in my opinion, are very unable to create innovation in their sector; their means to defend their market share is in particular to initiate legal action,” says Rafael de Miglio.

“commercial case”

Because behind, there is a very real economic battle.

The new players “are nibbling the market share of the trustees, with the latter being denied joint ownership in favor of management by the joint owners themselves internally. So there’s still a business problem behind that,” explains AFP ME Elisa Bokjanovsky, a real estate attorney (and not involved). in these issues) at Simmons & Simmons.

The outbreak of start-ups aiming to destabilize the management of co-trust custodians is putting real estate professionals on the defensive PHILIPPE HUGUEN AFP / ARCHIVES

These young companies intend to automate, using applications, some time-consuming tasks: accounting, filing of administrative documents, etc.

“Today, if you go to a traditional guardian, it works somewhat like thirty years ago,” says Antonio Pinto, founder of New Guardian Bellman. “The accountant is the one who prints the things, the assistant who will put the letters in folds and send them, we receive the bills in paper form, we put the stamps …”

“When you run 40 buildings, or 50 or 70, every second counts,” he says.

David Rodriguez, of the Consumer Association CLCV, believes that “online custodians are interesting for small condominiums that cannot be managed in the traditional way.”

Bellman, who manages about 500 condominiums, interviewed study co-owners: 45% of them rated their guardian satisfaction between 0 and 6 out of 10.

Which also prompted her to launch a daring ad campaign, in which co-owners who have given up on bringing down a deranged guardian are represented as leather-clad masochists.

The heavyweights in the sector are trying to adapt. Thus Foncia puts the finishing touches on the smartphone application for the management of the trustee.

“I think there’s room for everyone, but the added value is still tied to the professional in the body,” says Danielle Dobrac, president of the Real Estate Professionals Association (United), warning. (From new players) Not profitable, if there is no return on investment, we move on. And there may be a very rapid obsolescence of these new actors.”

Neither Bellman nor Matera are currently beneficiaries.

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