The Czech real estate market is currently fragmented and focused mainly on working with property sellers, as everyone who has ever wanted to sell, buy or (rent) an apartment has found out. Real estate agents, under the demands and amount of administration, often fail to keep up with the most important thing: quality client care. Igluu, a new platform that aims to help real estate agents and their clients and connect them digitally, is responding to these shortcomings with a clear goal: to simplify work and take the processes around real estate to the next level, for example by involving artificial intelligence. Igluu brings to the Czech Republic American know-how, experience and also the international real estate data standard RESO for data standardization, commonly used abroad, especially in the United States. 

Martin Mucha, co-founder of Igluu, started building the main idea of the platform back in 2013, i.e. that technology can bring modernization, digitalization and connectivity between all participants to the real estate market. He participated on development of the now highly successful real estate platform in the US and Canada, which is the forerunner of Igluu. This real estate ecosystem is now used by over 55,000 real estate brokers in New York State and over 75,000 brokers in Canada. To put that in perspective, that’s about 8% of all brokers in North America and nearly 60% of those in Canada. 

Now, Martin Mucha is passing on his extensive know-how gained in the US and Canadian real estate markets and, in conjunction with CSOB (one of the largest Czech bancassurance groups wholly owned by the Belgian KBC Group) and US partners, they have founded Igluu, a startup in the Czech Republic. After two years of intensive development, implementation of US-Canadian technologies and specific adjustments for the Czech market, including connection to the land registry or integration of the Bank Identity service (BankID), Igluu is ready to introduce its platform to the public during Q1 2024. It has the ambition to become a leader in the digital transformation of the Czech real estate market with benefits for both real estate brokers and other participants in this market: owners, buyers, landlords and tenants. 

Success even before the launch

The success of the Igluu platform is evident even before the launch, thanks to the active involvement of several major real estate agencies. Among the first professional clients are Century21 Czech Republic and Real Estate Brokerage Evropa, who already see the value and potential that Igluu brings to the real estate market.

Simplifying the daily agenda of real estate agents 

Igluu puts great emphasis on efficiency and simplification of routine tasks of real estate brokers – everything from creating offers to communication with the client, the prospect, the bank and the cadastral office. Thanks to the connection with modern technologies, such as the electronic conclusion of contracts using the BankID digital signature, brokers can fully focus on the key aspect of their work, the client. The platform aims to facilitate communication with clients, manage offers and all documents, and provide access to innovative tools supported by artificial intelligence and other modern technologies. This will provide brokers with a single, comprehensive environment that connects them to real estate market players, and in which they can ultimately be more productive and provide superior service to clients. 

Digital market connectivity

One of the innovations that Igluu brings to the Czech real estate market is the so-called MLS system (Multiple Listing Service), which facilitates the cooperation of real estate professionals. Igluu works closely with its strategic partner, the Association of Real Estate Agencies, on the MLS for the Czech Republic. Together they created the first MLS rules that set up processes for systematic cooperation between brokers. “It is the cooperation between real estate brokers in the market with the aim of changing the norm in the current transactional approach that is our next key element and goal. With the integrated MLS rules, real estate brokers can systematically collaborate on transactions, share listings with each other and expand their reach in the market. This innovation brings concrete benefits for brokers who can now collaborate more effectively with colleagues from other real estate agencies, which ultimately only increases the chances of success for all parties involved,” explains Martin Mucha, co-founder of Igluu. Collaboration in accordance with MLS rules creates a dynamic environment where the sharing of information between brokers strengthens the transparency and efficiency of the entire real estate market. Services for buyers are also an important benefit of the MLS.

“Digital tools and innovation form one of the association’s strategic focus areas, which we have been working on since 2018. Igluu’s solutions will allow us to significantly innovate the form and scope of collaboration and communication between our members. Such an advanced solution would never have been created given the size of the Czech market,” adds Jan Borůvka, Secretary General of the Association of Real Estate Agencies of the Czech Republic and current President of CEPI (European Association of Real Estate Professions).

Beyond other traditional features, Igluu brings innovative services and features through BankID integration. This move allows brokers to quickly identify clients as well as use the BankID Sign electronic signature. Of course, it is also possible to connect to the services or open data of the Land Registry and integrate them into the Igluu Platform. 

Another innovative service in the real estate market that Igluu brings is Igluu Fincheck. This service, created in cooperation with CRIF CZ, is the first of its kind on the Czech market that allows the public to access data on their financial health and view their assessment across the Czech financial market. “This is a unique collaboration for us with partners who understand the importance of financial literacy like we do and feel the importance of this topic. Together, we will offer several attractive products that bring innovation to the financial sphere in the online environment and help users gain insight into their own finances. I believe that this cooperation will bring us new opportunities, open interesting possibilities for our customers and lead to the implementation of other innovative projects,” says Romana Knyblová, project manager of the CRIF portal kolikmam.cz, which is behind the Fincheck service.

“Integration with banking institutions, including our partnership with the ČSOB group, allows users to access a wide range of financial and banking services directly through the Igluu digital ecosystem. Together, we are working to enable Igluu users to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan online or use other financial products. This will create simple and efficient conditions for real estate financing, taking the entire real estate trading process to a whole new level of availability and accessibility for all stakeholders,” explains Pavel Dvořák, Managing Director of Igluu. 

How to find a reliable and financially sound tenant? 

However, Igluu does not focus only on real estate agents. The platform’s second, equally important, target group is also individuals, whether owners, buyers, tenants or landlords, and it brings innovative tools and services for efficient management, search and closing of real estate transactions to them as well.

The aforementioned Igluu Fincheck product will allow owners to obtain comprehensive information on the financial stability of potential tenants who purchase Igluu Fincheck and send it to the property owner. Within Igluu Fincheck, it is possible to create a shortened version, the so-called Igluu Passport, which does not contain specific sensitive financial data, but at the same time contains a useful summary assessment of the client’s risk from the perspective of financial institutions. The possibility of online contract management, including signing via BankID, simplifies the administration associated with renting or selling a property; everything from energy transcriptions to contract signatures will be handled electronically. 

“For buyers, the platform brings modern ways to search for properties with the support of artificial intelligence. This brings with it completely new search possibilities. We could only dream of a short time ago. For example, this feature allows our users to upload a photo of the bathroom or kitchen they are looking for and the system will automatically search for relevant listings. The Watchdog feature will allow offers to be tracked according to specific criteria; buyers can search for a new home either independently or in collaboration with a real estate agent. They will be able to choose one directly on the platform,” says Boris Musatov, Igluu’s Chief Technology Officer. 

Martin Mucha, Co-Founder of Igluu,

For owners, Igluu is preparing a comprehensive property management system, where all contracts, tenant records and documents are available in one place, the system has set up a large number of notifications that will alert when, for example, it is close to time to pay home insurance, which, together with other innovative tools, can also help tenants looking for a home, which is not common in the Czech Republic. 

The Czech Republic is a leader and role model in Europe

“For us, the Czech Republic is our shop window, where we are setting new European standards and actively moving the real estate market towards digital transformation. We want to be the driving force behind innovations that bring real value and ease of processes to our users. Our intention is to focus on delivering new services that truly support estate agents and open up new opportunities within the digital environment. We want every real estate agent who uses our platform to have the means to be successful in the digital age,” Martin Mucha concludes.

His words are also confirmed by the fact that Igluu received the Export Hero Award at the Czech Exporters Awards 2023 thanks to its nomination by CzechTrade, for contritions in filed of innovation and spreading the good name of the Czech Republic internationally. 

About Igluu

After several years of preparation, Igluu was officially founded in 2021 and since then has been working intensively to create and launch a Czech digital real estate platform. During these two years, the Igluu team has been formed and the implementation of US-Canadian technologies and adaptation for the Czech market has gradually taken place.

Igluu is a joint venture between an American technology group and ČSOB, which is the main partner of the project in the Czech Republic. The startup is based on the know-how that co-founder Martin Mucha has built and brought from the real estate markets in the US and Canada, where he has been working since 2013.    

Igluu’s main partner for the development of the MLS system is the Association of Real Estate Agents of the Czech Republic. Even before the official introduction of the platform to the Czech market, the cooperation with large real estate agencies Century21 Czech Republic, Realitní Kancelář Evropa and ERA Reality started and they switched to using the platform. 

In December 2023, the startup Igluu was awarded the Export Hero award in the Czech Exporters Award by CzechTrade. 

The company’s goal is to make the Czech Republic a leader in the digital transformation of the real estate market and serve as an inspiration for the whole of Europe.