The housing market is highly contested terrain. The Swiss property portal newhome.ch is offering innovative solutions to help both property providers and seekers to reach their goals. Thanks to 3D technology, you can now view properties without setting foot in them — below is an interview with the CEOs of the two companies involved.

“Kaspar Helfrich & Jean-Pierre Valenghi”

What distinguishes newhome.ch from other property search portals?

Jean-Pierre Valenghi: newhome.ch is already the country’s strongest regional property portal and has the highest number of listings in 14 cantons. We are now the largest free real estate portal in Switzerland.

Why do the cantonal banks operate a platform like newhome.ch?

JPV: The cantonal banks have three goals for the platform. Firstly, it lets them offer both property seekers and professionals the opportunity to find and advertise properties at a low price. In addition, newhome.ch enables the cantonal banks to support people with their expertise in the property market and also to contact and support finance seekers directly via the platform. The banks also allow newhome.ch to invest in innovation and provide customers with useful tools.

Like, for example, the interactive 3D model. How does it benefit me as an advertiser?

JPV: Advertisers can now present their properties in a more interesting and stimulating way.

And how does it help property seekers?

Kaspar Helfrich: As a property seeker I need above all a way to quickly separate the suitable offerings from the rest. A 3D model helps to create an overview. Furthermore, the seeker can ‘try out’ the advertised apartment by furnishing it. This provides much more information about the actual dimensions and spatial relationships than a simple floor plan. ’12m2′ ultimately says much less than ‘in this room you can fit a double bed, a bedside table, a clothes rail and an armchair’.

How quickly can a model be created and what information do you need?

KH: We always deliver within 24 hours, and often sooner. For this, we need at least a floor plan. We can also use old or photographed plans. The more information that is available, such as photos, the more accurate the model will be.

The models are produced by the Swiss company Archilogic. How did this partnership come about?

JPV: Innovation is a strategic cornerstone for newhome.ch. In order to provide our customers with the latest developments, we are always looking for interesting partners with whom to collaborate. In 2014 we discovered Archilogic. The technology, the team and the enthusiasm with which the Archilogic staff approached the project convinced us immediately.

How will property searches develop in the future?

KH: I think we’ll be able to search more specifically. It will no longer just be about square metres and the location, but about spaces that reflect our personality. And I don’t just mean old buildings, lofts or detached houses, but rather a floor plan that is exactly suited to my needs. After all, we don’t just wear a pair of trousers, but rather the exact brand of jeans that suits our lifestyle.

What will newhome.ch implement as its next step?

JPV: The 3D models on the screen are already a big help, but the experience needs to go even further. In the near future, property seekers will be able to walk inside our 3D models using special glasses at property fairs and in selected bank branches.

Can newhome.ch become the market-leading property portal?

JPV: For us it’s not about size, we want to offer people the widest possible range of properties and services, and at zero cost.

Jean-Pierre Valenghi is CEO of the property portal newhome.ch, which emerged from the 15 cantonal bank marketplaces that began operating free property portals at cantonal level for private and professional property service providers and property seekers in 1999. Since March 2013, the 16 affiliated cantonal banks have operated under the unified brand newhome.ch. The entire basic service is free. www.newhome.ch

Kaspar Helfrich is co-founder and CEO of Archilogic. The company was founded in March 2014 by four architects as a spin-off from ETH. Their positive experiences using 3D and the great potential of the technology motivated them to program the beta version of their digital tool. The team has grown continuously in recent months and Archilogic now employs 15 people. www.archilogic.ethz.ch