The automatic rental process is made possible by, for example, the credit information check that takes place during identification.
Retta (formerly Realia) is the largest professional service group in the Nordics specializing in the brokerage and management of apartments, properties and offices. Together with HiQ, the company automated the rental process of the apartments it manages, providing applicants with location-independent, 24/7, and fast apartment rental.
Retta wanted to offer a modern online rental service to its customers, which include housing funds and institutional investors. The fully automated rental process, which can be done in five minutes, can be handled around the clock - from the comfort of your home. Retta's customers benefit from maximum rental income since it is possible to find a new tenant quickly, and avoid empty apartments. At the same time, Retta's manual work in the rental process is reduced, and tenants’ lives become easier.
In 2021, Retta approached HiQ and Lamia separately in a tender, looking for a supplier for the service design and the design of background systems. The companies decided to join forces and assemble a joint team of professionals best suited to the project. The project was the first example of cooperation between HiQ and Lamia, which was carried out before the merger of the companies.
In the next tender during 2022, HiQ and Lamia were also chosen to implement the frontend side of the service, part of the integrations and, among other things, the identifications that take place at the front. The D365 section of the backend was built by Twoday.
HiQ and Lamia convinced us with their industry expertise and were honest about what the project required of us.
Development Director, Retta ManagementPaavo Karlin
"HiQ and Lamia convinced us with their industry expertise and were honest about what the project required of us. When we met the team, we immediately noticed how smooth and comfortable it is to work with them. They understood our business needs, knew how to tell us what needed to be done and finally did it. I am very happy with the end result and HiQ's role in making it happen”, describes Retta Management's Development Director, Paavo Karlin.
During the service design phase, common pain points in finding a rental apartment and concluding a rental agreement were identified. For a tenant, preparing an application, monitoring the progress of the case, agreeing on the apartment inspection, and communicating with the broker is tedious and stressful at worst.
In addition, with the help of service design, more straightforward implementation methods were found for Retta's own functions and the needs of rental apartment owners. We wanted to make Retta's online rental service extremely easy to use so that it would attract apartment seekers, make it possible to rent an apartment around the clock and reduce Retta's manual work.
"The most important thing in the project was to combine the technical architecture and implementation with the user experience. HiQ was one of the few operators that realized that we are not creating a perpetual motion machine, even though we are utilizing automation. Along with the applicant experience, it was important to understand how the service works for our employees," says Karlin.
The solution was implemented with a headless architecture, as an Azure cloud service, to which combines a backend built with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and multilingual Contentful content management and Google Analytics. The frontend side was built using Node.js and React. The totality was built purely for Retta’s needs with the latest technologies that are easy to maintain and develop. By combining the best parts of a static site and a dynamic application, a search engine-optimized, fast, responsive, and user-friendly website was created. In addition, integrations with customer information play a significant role so that the applicant's credit information can be checked during the identification process.
The technical design of the service was started simultaneously with the service design phase, to ensure enough time to design the architecture and ensure the functionality of all solutions and smooth cooperation between different suppliers.
An interactive prototype of the service was built so that the service could be tested already in the design phase. By collecting feedback from potential users, it was possible to identify potential challenges at an early stage and refine the user experience. The prototype acted also as a significant sales tool, which allowed us to demonstrate the future service to Retta's customers at an early stage.
Simplicity is emphasized in the final user interface of the service - the applicant is only asked to provide information that is necessarily needed.
"During the service design phase, we identified the relevant information that we really need. For example, we don't need to know which address the tenant is moving from, and with small details like this, we can make the service simple and pleasant to use," Karlin smiles.
When the applicant finds an apartment managed by Retta in, for example, Oikotie service, he goes to see additional information and pictures of the object. The text is presented in an easy-to-read format, and the points that are of most interest to the renter have been selected at the top: for example, the level of equipment in the apartment, such as a washing machine or a dishwasher.
Next, the interested applicant moves to strong identification, where credit information is checked in seconds. A joint applicant can also be added to the service. If the inspection passes, the applicant can rent the apartment and choose the contract type: temporary or open-ended. A suitable moving day is selected from the visual calendar view. If desired, the applicant can arrange an apartment screening, which is however not relevant or logistically possible for the vast majority of applicants.
Service creates a contract to be signed digitally and gives options for additional services, such as a parking space. In the future, Retta will have the opportunity to add other additional services to the service, such as a moving service or a key courier, which will improve the tenant experience even more. The signed rental agreement is sent to an email, where the tenant also receives more information about moving to a new home. The contract has a termination period of three days.
The online rental service launched in January 2023 now operates nationwide. The project was successful both from the point of view of Retta's customers, tenants and the creative team. HiQ's project manager Krista Viita-aho praises Retta's active advance preparation and participation, which made it possible to achieve the goals.
"Retta understood from the beginning what we were doing. We received clearly described specs, on the basis of which it was easy for us to build the technical implementation. The cooperation was natural and we discussed many things between the client and the team together.”
Retta's online rental service combines modern IT architecture and first-class user interface design, which makes the rental process as smooth as possible. Many of the tenants have estimated that they would not improve anything. The overall rating for the service is 9,3/10. 15–20% of tenants estimate that they wouldn’t have rented the apartment without the option of online renting.
"Online apartment rental is suitable for a busy, working person. We can see from the statistics that a lot of rentals are made between ten and twelve in the evening. Young adults are emphasized in our tenant profile, but there are also middle-aged and older applicants with good incomes," says Karlin.