Digital transformation for real estate agents
Intensify interaction with and positive perception of the brand
Design an interactive community app
After an intensive analysis and development process, real estate brokerage no longer holds any secrets for us. Meanwhile, we continue to expand the various platforms in the context of administrative simplification, digital transformation and a paperless desk mission. A platform that is solidly built.
At the end of 2018, there were more than 10,000 licensed real estate agents in our country - these are real estate brokers, syndicators and stewards. These estate agents are all involved in what Belgians still consider to be one of the most important things in their lives: real estate and living.
Anyone wishing to carry out real estate activities in Belgium on a self-employed basis must be approved by the IPI, the Professional Institute of Estate Agents. The IPI is not only a supervisory body, but it determines the conditions for entering the playing field, informs and supports estate agents in various ways (e.g. training is central), but also penalises those who commit errors.
BIV draws the digital map
"After iO delivered a new website for the BIV a few years ago, the BIV resolutely drew the digital card and continued the cooperation," says Frank Damen, Digital Manager of BIV.
"Total transparency and a great problem-solving capacity have since led to, among other things, an online brokerage account with numerous functions, a training management platform and an exam environment."
"The cooperation with iO has led to numerous tools that transform our organisation and provide ,inform and support estate agents and private individuals even better."
Frank Damen, Digital Manager BIV
Drupal CMS as a public knowledge base
The public Drupal website of the IPI is in the first place the place-to-go for the Belgian real estate agent. It is a gathering place of relevant information in the context of exercising his job: changes in the law, reference work, model documents, publications, procedures and more.
It is also the place where consumers can go when they are looking for a real estate agent in their neighbourhood, or to file a complaint after irregularities. For candidate real estate agents, the website is the starting point to start their journey towards being recognised as a real estate agent.
A user-friendly website with clear information architecture and a powerful search function was therefore essential. We also paid a lot of attention to the CMS backend, so that the thousands of pieces of content could be easily managed.
Extranet: digital information exchange
Both in the run-up to an approval as a real estate agent and in the years thereafter, a lot of documents and information exchange between the IPI and the (candidate) real estate agent is involved.
Whereas until recently a great deal was done by conventional mail, each broker now has his own "digital office" in a protected zone, in which he can consult personal data. Think, for example, of the number of training hours followed to his credit.
The broker in question can not only manage his profile here, but also process all administration, which is then automatically and quickly processed in the ERP systems of the IPI.
One of its showpieces is the fully digital onboarding of new candidate brokers. The procedure that had to be followed until now was rather outdated and not really user-friendly: candidates had to print and fill in forms, send them by post together with a number of certificates and supporting documents, and then wait for them to be processed.
With the new, fully digital onboarding, the user identifies himself via itsme or eID. The known details are filled in automatically, which saves the user a lot of work. Subsequently, the candidate broker can digitally upload all required certificates and documents and he can follow their processing online.
This processing is now also fully automatic and digital at the IPI. Because documents no longer need to be scanned or retyped, the whole process is drastically accelerated and the risk of errors is significantly reduced. As soon as the procedure is completed, the broker gets access to all functionalities and data of the IPI extranet.
Intranet: organisation of training
The IORP is strongly committed to a thorough professionalisation of the entire sector. Not only because the increasingly complex legislation requires it, but also because a real estate agent has a great responsibility.
Training courses are organised both in classrooms (by the IPI, or by external training partners) and via e-learning. The integrated Edux web application is used to record training courses, training locations and times, and to manage registrations and attendance.
Over the years, the NFIP has evolved from being primarily an organiser of training courses to being primarily an enabler and gatekeeper. Training institutes from all corners of the country are given the tools to take care of the brokers' certificates themselves, while the IPI itself is freed up to do more quality control than classic dossier management.
After following training courses (and/or exams), brokers automatically receive a certificate. To this end, the platform communicates with various APIs of external training providers that pass on attendance data to the IPI.
Finally, this application allows to play the role of control body and to map out which brokers do not meet their training quota or underperform.
E-learning for real estate agents
Real estate agents can train themselves via the online e-learning tool that we offer them, which is fully integrated with the extranet on the one hand and the training management platform on the other.
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Stagetool & online examentool
In the run-up to an accreditation as a real estate agent, the trainee/candidate real estate agent must do an internship with a colleague real estate agent. To simplify this follow-up process for all parties (internship master, intern and the IPI), the entire internship is carried out via an internship follow-up tool built by iO. Traineeship documents, work logs and evaluations are entered into this system and followed up thanks to the accompanying dashboards.
Before the trainee can stand on his own feet as a real estate agent, he must take a number of exams. In the context of administrative simplification and automation, we developed an online examination tool, integrated with the member area, where the prospective real estate agent can take his examination.
A clever piece of technology with a number of advanced security techniques and detections against fraud and abuse. Moreover, the system is equipped with smart reporting, a flexible question library and ditto modules to build exams with.
A technical masterpiece
Building the BIV platform is a technical masterpiece. The different elements are in many ways business-critical and must always be available. In addition, they also contain a lot of sensitive information, so strong security is a priority.
Link with multiple internal and external systems and databases.
Combination of Drupal CMS and PHP Symfony framework with seamless integration.
All systems are linked to a central identity system based on OAuth technology (think: "Sign in Facebook/Google style") so that the broker does not have to log in again through the various applications. Ease of use and user experience first.
Automation of dozens of processes to drastically reduce manual work.
Various letters, files and paperwork replaced by digital processing. Saving time, money and increasing efficiency.
The digital ambitions and vision for the future are not minuscule, despite the great achievements of the past years. API, microservices and OpenData are on the roadmap so that external and public platforms can also tap into the BIV's knowledge database.
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