The sharing or collaborative economy is one of the most important current trends likely to change the real estate industry as we know it forever. We spoke with Yoan Kamalski, Co-Founder, Hmlet, who believes that within real estate, co-living is the next natural evolution of the sharing economy.
Tell us a bit more about your background and Hmlet?
Hmlet's journey began when I realised how much more meaningful life became when people shared their living space. When I first arrived in Singapore to work in large-scale real estate project management, I lived in a flatshare apartment along with my housemate, and we rented out rooms. Through that, we formed numerous friendships which sparked an idea about co-living being a viable and necessary option for working millennials.
By combining my interests and experience in property project management and technology, I founded Hmlet in 2016, a co-living company that provides a hassle-free living experience reflecting the ever-changing demands of an increasingly mobile lifestyle.
What role is the collaborative economy playing in the property sector?
With many sectors now being “uberised” it was only a matter of time before the property scene caught up. Within real estate, co-living is the next natural evolution of the sharing economy.
We’re seeing huge demand for co-living and there are good reasons for that. First, we’re increasingly seeing a young, mobile workforce that relies heavily on technology and favours flexible working and living arrangements. Our platform enables flexible lease options to configure living arrangements based on their individual lifestyle needs.
Equally, with housing prices steadily rising and outpacing average incomes, it has become increasingly difficult to own a home.
How is Covid-19 impacted your business?
At Hmlet, our business model is to focus mainly on long-term stays. On average, our members stay with us for 13 months. Therefore, our core co-living product remains relatively unchanged. We are seeing that longer term stays in our co-living properties are less impacted than hotels, serviced apartments and other short-term rentals. But with people increasingly forced to work from home, the concepts of home and work are becoming blurred.
As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold and customer behaviour changes, we have accelerated our shift to digital to meet the needs of our customers who can no longer physically view properties and run their home like they used to. Going digital enables our customers to view our properties through virtual tours and choose their next home without having to move from where they are. We are adapting our business to this new world that is changing faster than ever.
How is it impacting the industry?
There’s no denying it, the Covid-19 pandemic is changing life as we know it. As social distancing measures and remote working become the new norm, we are shifting the way we think about home, work and community.
Millions of people have turned their home into an office in the past few months. People will now be accustomed to greater flexibility and will be thinking about their homes in new ways, wanting to design their home to best suit their lifestyle, allowing them to both enjoy their personal space and be productive at work.
With the world in lockdown, one of the shifts we have been seeing is the increasing use of online platforms. The Covid-19 crisis has further accelerated the trend in digital connectivity, with businesses and consumers shifting from offline to online. Going forward, it will be important to offer innovative tech solutions to provide greater efficiency and value to stakeholders in the industry.
What do you think the future of the property industry looks like?
Despite being a key driver of economic value creation in APAC, the real estate industry is still relatively slow in terms of technology adoption. Moving forward, technology will transform the real estate industry.
Technology will enable greater information transparency and transactions. As marketplaces improve to deliver better information transparency, the buying-selling and leasing-tenancy of real estate will move towards an enhanced online model where entire real estate transactions can be completed online.
Technology will also improve asset owners’ operating performance as well as shorten processing timelines and improve efficiency by eliminating challenges in areas such as brokerage and property management.
Spurred by an ever-changing digital landscape and new consumption patterns, technologically innovative products and new business models will make the real estate industry more efficient and radically transform it beyond recognition.
Yoan will be speaking at SPACE APAC as part of a panel. You can view the full program here www.space-apac.com/program.
To find out more about Hmlet you can visit the website https://www.hmlet.com/