A new digital platform has launched on the rental market in Sofia with a mission to change the standards for renting properties. Flatimo is the new business line of the Flat Manager company, which was launched in 2017 and manages 500 rental properties across the country. There are also operations in Romania.
With its new platform Flatimo, the team wants to solve one of the big problems of the real estate market in our country, which has been observed for years – the presence of many empty homes that are not rented out. The idea is to introduce the Airbnb model, but for long-term rentals in our country. For now, the platform will offer services in Sofia, but it is planned to expand to larger cities in our country, as well as to enter the real estate sales market.
“Flatimo is a hybrid model that works for property owners. They contact us and we take care of everything else. After photos and video are taken of the property, the ad is published on Flatimo and other portals with the exact address of the property . This saves a lot of inspections for the landlord. Potential tenants have the opportunity to book an appointment for an inspection online at a time convenient for them.” this was explained by Boris Pavlov, who is the founder of Flat Manager.
The services of the platform are free for renters and property buyers. Landlords will be able to choose between two plans – standard and exclusive, which are respectively 40% and 50% commission from the first rental. The difference between the two plans is that with the “higher” one, a team representative will be present at the inspections.
According to Pavlov, the problem with renting out housing in our country is significant, because the big agencies neglect this segment, focusing mainly on sales, while their rents represent about 3% of the business.
According to a survey by the company among 1,000 owners who have an unoccupied property, 48% do not want to sell or rent it, because of cumbersome procedures, many inspections, or because they do not want to pay high commissions to realtors.
Meanwhile, 15% of households in our country live on rent, and 39% of the housing stock is uninhabitable. 24,000 homes in Sofia are empty and only 10% of them are on the market for sale or rent. These are some of the problems the company wants to solve.
After the crazy buying of properties and price growth of 50% in 10 years, there is a boom in the rental market in our country
Housing markets in CEE are at different stages of development
For now, the platform mainly focuses on rentals. In the first quarter of next year, Flatimo will introduce the ability to rate tenants and owners. At a later stage, a tenant profile will also be created.
At the beginning of 2025, Flatimo is planned to expand its services in Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas, as well as to create a society of landlords in Bulgaria.
At a later stage, entry into the sales market is also planned.
The company says that a similar model of Flatimo also works in Serbia – the City Expat platform, which is proving to be quite successful.