[This article was first featured by Snowflake, who interviewed IMMO’s Head of Data, Julian Derber.]
See how IMMO uses the Snowflake Data Cloud to unlock the residential retail market, and provide key insights to investors.
Founded in 2017, IMMO is on a mission to fix a broken real estate market, making it more equitable, safe, accountable, and accessible.
The company estimates that only 4% of available residential real estate is targeted by investors – largely due to the inherent complexity involved. To address this issue, and unlock the remaining 96%, IMMO created Europe’s first technology-led residential real estate platform.
“We manage the entire lifecycle,” said Julian Derber, Senior Director and Head of Data at IMMO. “We look for listings and leads, inspect properties, underwrite them, finalize the purchase, carry out renovations and refurbishments, and also manage residents on behalf of our clients.”
Today, data is at the heart of IMMO’s operations, but when Derber first joined the company in 2021, that wasn’t the case. Knowing data’s potential to set the company apart and enable it to provide an exceptional level of service, was something he intended to change.
He approached the task of developing the company’s data capabilities with three main goals in mind: Gaining unique market intelligence insights, establishing detailed operational analytics, and ensuring robust data governance and compliance with GDPR.
Today, the company uses the Snowflake Data Cloud to achieve each of these things.
The first building blocks of change
IMMO knew that choosing the right platform for its data journey was integral to its success. The company looked at a few alternatives, but Derber’s previous experience with Snowflake made it the go-to choice.
“Snowflake was the obvious choice because it’s just so simple to get started,” he said. “Easy access to pre-built data structures means lots of our users can put data to work without expert knowledge – and the performance, functionality, and scalability is amazing. It’s also cloud-agnostic, which makes a huge difference to us as we’re committed to AWS.”
Using a combination of Terraform and dbt, IMMO now ingests data from a wide variety of sources into a Snowflake. This includes listings platforms, historical data sets, sales data, and third-party sources that contain socioeconomic and streetmap data.
Machine learning capabilities within Sagemaker are then used to explore this data and provide robust market intelligence. These insights let IMMO know what opportunities the market offers, the best price to buy at, what rents they should charge based on area demographics, and how renovations can be expected to increase the value of a property.
Recognizing its unique position in the market, IMMO also ingests its own data back into Snowflake’s platform so it can gain further insights over time and continue to improve the accuracy of its predictions.
“In our industry, the value chain is fragmented,” said Derber. “Often companies will outsource renovations or property management, for instance. But us owning the whole funnel gives us a unique opportunity to learn about the entire customer lifecycle. That insight is invaluable to us and our clients.”
Portfolio reporting in a matter of days
With accurate and consistent data accessible from one central location, IMMO not only has a new level of insight but also the speed needed to make it count. Using Snowflake, the company has been able to produce portfolio reports that previously took several weeks in just three days, speeding time to insight for both IMMO and its clients. And recent advancements in the way it uses Snowflake are set to take things to the next level.
“We are now at a point where we can explore our market intel dashboards together with our investors, and we’ve received very positive feedback from them,” Derber said. “With API integrations to many of our core data sources, we are coming down to near real-time updates on market movements, and that gives us unique capabilities.”
As well as providing market and operational insights, IMMO uses Snowflake to power its Resident Superapp. This application provides a direct line of contact for everything tenants might need, delivering the 21st-century renting experience that can make a huge difference in an often frustrating market.
“What we’ve been able to achieve so far is a massive accomplishment,” said Derber. “Snowflake makes it so easy for us to produce reports, estimate rents, build new features, and ensure data governance. It’s very easy for people to use, incredibly scalable and performant, and as a manager, it makes it simple for me to control the data activities within our organization.”
For IMMO, the platform’s ease of use has unlocked endless possibilities. And it also plays an important role in attracting data talent to the organization, while positioning the company as a tech-driven leader in the market.
“As a start-up, you try a lot of things, and often those things fail,” Derber said. “Taking away the friction around using the technology is key. Snowflake has taken us from having no bespoke analytics to having a very powerful analytics platform that allows us to unlock data at scale. Previously we had islands of data. Now everything is connected and accessible.”
The next step on IMMO’S exciting data journey
Going forward, IMMO plans to further experiment with Snowflake features to leverage the learnings from its activities, create new synergies, and develop deeper contextual insights. The company also plans to explore ways of monetizing the value of the data it’s creating.
It’s an exciting path ahead, and the difference has already been felt across the organization.
“I asked my users to feedback and tell me what they liked about Snowflake,” said Derber. “The list was extensive, but the ease of use, pace of development, simplified prototyping and testing, and BI tools were all mentioned. As were the standard connectors and features that make it easy to work with other tools. The best part is, the platform is always improving, so we’re excited to see what the future holds”