Un exemple de la campagne de publicité de Bellman début 2022.

Concentration is accelerating in the condominium management market

It is a legal obligation for any residence of collective housing: the syndic of co-ownership. Professional or non-professional, it is chosen by the co-owners for a period of 1 to 3 years. Its mission is to manage the finances and administration of the condominium, and in particular the common areas (elevators, green spaces, pipes, boilers, etc.). Its means: the charge calls paid by the co-owners each quarter. A double responsibility entrusted to him by the co-owners.

In France, the condominium syndicates market is very fragmented between real estate majors such as Foncia, Citya or Nexity, which buy out one competitor per week, often family VSEs-SMEs and start-ups. As of June 1, 2022, out of 5,131 professional card holders, only 430 are full-time co-ownership trustees. The other professionals also do property administration (rental management) and transactions (purchases and sales). Currently this market, estimated at 1.4 billion euros, knows a movement of concentration that does not weaken.

A PES at the startup Bellman

Last company in the sector to make the news: the startup Bellman, specializing in the development of administration and accounting software. After having raised 17 million euros since its creation in 2019, it has just communicated, during an extraordinary meeting of its corporate social and economic committee (CSE), on a draft job protection plan ( PSE) for some of its employees.

“The particularly difficult economic situation, linked to the international context, which creates tensions on raw materials, growing inflation and therefore a contraction of our key markets, has a strong impact on the company’s activities and in particular its financing capacities” , confirms, by email, a spokeswoman for Bellman.

In an email sent on July 19 to its customers, that The gallery obtained, the president-founder Antonio Pinto announces to them “a downsizing plan” and explain to them that “your current manager and accountant remain available to process your requests and needs related to your building”. In the coming months, “so it is possible” he continues, that “We offered you a new Bellman franchised co-ownership manager”. In other words, the condominiums could keep the same managers, whose professional status would just have changed.

A fundamental movement that also affects Matera

A situation that Matera also encounters (ex-illiCopro, 6,000 condominiums and 100,000 claimed owners). Despite 45 million euros raised since its launch in 2017, the young shoot, which provides co-owners with digital tools to verify accounts and find administrative documents, is currently reviewing its internal organization.

“A lot of listed US startups have seen their valuations fall quite low. This impacts the entire financing chain,” says the managing director of Matera, Raphael Di Meglio. “We are forced to move towards financial efficiency rather than hypergrowth”, he adds.

Also Matera will keep its activity of assistance to trustees while offering a rental management offer at the beginning of 2023. 40% of its co-owners are lessors, that is to say non-occupant owners who rent their accommodation to others, and ask him for tools in this sense.

“It is natural for us to develop in this niche. This is what property managers already do. says the boss of Matera again.

Competition that annoys condominium managers

Three years ago, the latter – the National Association of Condominium Managers (ANGC), the National Real Estate Federation (FNAIM), Foncia and the National Union of Real Estate Professionals (SNPI) – sued for ” unfair competition ” and “unfair and deceptive commercial practices”, following the publication of posters called Thank you Trustee ».

In February 2022, Matera was found guilty and ordered to pay each of its plaintiffs 20,000 euros in damages. His counterpart Bellman is also the subject of a summons to the commercial court, with a first hearing in September 2022, following advertising posters featuring sado-masochistic co-owners, forced to take the stairs of the due to an elevator breakdown.

“This is unfair competition by denigration and violation of the code of ethics of real estate professionals in terms of brotherhood”, justifies the president of the National Association of condominium managers (ANGC, 1,000 members).

“Without even having proven themselves, they tend to make people believe that they have the miracle solution for managing condominiums, by making the trustees look like ”stone age nerds” who should be ”dusted up ””, continues Gilles Frémont.

Homeland and FaciliCiti continue to believe in their model

Despite this war of leaders, other young shoots continue to believe in their model. This is the case of Homeland, launched in 2016 with an approach “hybrid” which relies on software and expert teams in the field to respond directly to co-owners. After having been self-financed for three years and raised 11 million euros since 2019, the young shoot proclaims a park of 500 residences in Île-de-France, Bordeaux, Lyon and Montpellier. With 80 people, it recruits 2 to 3 people per month.

“There will be no social breakdown. Managers and accountants will find work, ” assures its co-founder Renaud LeRooy. “Traditional players understand the need to innovate and are starting to invest. It’s just as beneficial for the co-owners,” he adds.

Present in Île-de-France, Marseille and Lyon, the startup FaciliCiti works with developers to act as syndic of co-ownership and rental management in new buildings. Its core business: “facilitators” who manage up to 750 homes within a maximum radius of 30 minutes on foot.

“Digital is essential but it is only a means of allocating resources to proximity and to the field”, says its managing director Fabiola Barreira. “The facilitator can put the co-owners in touch with everyday needs, such as tutoring, an hour of cleaning or even babysitting between neighbours”, she says.

“The movement of concentration does not weaken”

Still, the profession of trustee cannot be improvised. “It is exercised under the condition of diplomas or in validation of acquired experience”, recalls Dalila Begriche, lawyer at the National Union of Real Estate Professionals. Especially since at the same time, “the movement of concentration does not weaken”, assures Géraud Delvolved, general delegate of the Union of real estate unions (United). He does not think so well: the average age of trustees is 54, and in the space of a few years, 10 out of 15 trustees of the former office of the United have sold their activity.