“Flexible” housing, a new trend in proptechs

Posted on December 1, 2022 at 8:17 am

INSEE calls them “travellers”. That is, workers whose work is in a city other than their place of residence. According to the latest figures, almost 320,000 were working more than 200 kilometers from home, an increase of 35% between 2008 and 2013. In four out of ten cases, they are in the urban area of ​​Paris.

“The health crisis accelerated a phenomenon that already existed”, estimates Stanley Fourteau, co-founder of Ukio, a Spanish nugget that has just raised 27 million euros (10 million in debt) and announces its arrival on the French market.

His start-up launched in 2020 offers “flexible homes” for rent, for an average period of six months. The properties are handpicked and the offer is intended to be “premium”: well-located, bright apartments with a large living room and outdoor space in the main European cities (Barcelona, ​​​​Madrid, Lisbon, London, Milan, Paris, etc.).

Subleases

“An in-house team takes care of the decor and furniture. The idea is to create unique apartments and make people feel right at home”, continues this head of 130 employees, who is expected to reach a turnover of between 18 and 20 million euros this year.

In its model, the start-up rents the property directly to the owners (individual or institutional), improves it and sublets it to workers, with a mark-up. On the side of the landlords, they receive rent every month, for a period of 7 to 10 years, avoiding rental vacancies, administration or agency fees. A peace of mind that allows the start-up to negotiate the rent around 15% cheaper than the market. The company aims to develop around 200 turnkey housing units in Paris by the end of the year.

Differentiate yourself from Airbnb

A market in which other players, still small, are present, such as Flexliving, a young tricolor offspring, which has just raised 1.5 million euros. Developed on the same model as Ukio, the start-up wants to be less selective, however, with a hundred accommodations available in the capital, through a monthly subscription calculated on the price of the night (from 80 to 120 euros). Dates are flexible: a few days a week for a longer period.

In France, most start-ups sign furnished leases and/or mobility leases. The latter is a contract dedicated to a tenant considered as a temporary occupant, for a period of 1 to 10 months, non-renewable.

“We are very careful not to be considered an Airbnb”, explains Alexandre Marcadier, co-founder of Flexliving. This jurisdiction requires landlords to rent only their primary residence and 120 days a year. “We could also offer short-term apartments and rent at the end of the week, as they are busier during the week, but we don’t want to. In addition, we are mainly targeting vacant houses, with the aim of revitalizing them”, continues the boss.

The last link in the chain of this still nascent market: distribution platforms such as Weekaway. The young shoot also collaborates with Flexliving and distributes their homes. Here, no (or few) filters, but a desire, in the long term, for completeness, against a 59 euro pass to access the offers. Present in Paris and Bordeaux, the start-up offers 650 active accommodations (homestays, flatshares, studios, hotel apartments, etc.).

A developed industry in the United States

The start-up takes care of the connection, without doing any management or leasing. The axis remains very BtoC but offers, like the other young shoots, a BtoB vertical. “It’s an opportunity for companies to strengthen their attractiveness and expand their recruiting pool,” says Marie-Christine Crolard, co-founder.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Blueground (present in France) or Landing raised hundreds of millions of dollars. It remains to be seen whether platforms like Airbnb could one day specifically offer a vertical for long-term housing.

“Have no fear, I would be surprised if the company created a brand that could compete with its host community,” said Stanley Fourteau, who worked for Airbnb for seven years. The American company, however, remains active and participated in the round of 55 million dollars from Zeus Living, a nugget in the sector.

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