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Finland transforming housing trade system to digital age

From the start of 2019, all new Finnish housing companies will be established electronically, not on paper.

Avaimet asuntolainapapereiden päällä.
File photo. Image: Kimmo Hiltunen / Yle

Buying a residential property in Finland is set to become easier and faster, according to a group of banks and businesses who aim to whisk the country's real estate system into the digital world.

A number of banks, real estate and tech firms, as well as officials, have developed Dias, a new digital real estate system.

The system is to begin rolling out in early 2019. The developers behind Dias say that buying and selling real estate will become easier, faster, more reliable and more transparent than the current paperwork-filled system.

Aktia Bank product chief Carin Pokka claims that once the system is in place it will be possible to buy or sell a residential property in 15 minutes.

"In the future, everything from the sales process all the way to the property deed signing will be conducted electronically. It reduces manual [paper]work involved with things like property titles, mortgages and other documents," Pokka said.

Once it is up and running, Dias will also be able to automatically send the mortgage and title information electronically to the National Land Survey, which safeguards such documents, according to Pokka, saying that people will be able to monitor the process of their property exchanges in real time.

Blockchain based

A key requirement of using the digital transaction system is that housing companies' shares need to be digitised and accessible from the land survey.

So, initially digital real estate sales will be done with shares in new housing companies - or more up-to-date older ones. But eventually older housing companies will also be digitalised, a process that is expected to begin next spring.

For existing housing companies, the digitising transition period will begin in May 2019 and last until the end of 2022.

The Dias platform is based on blockchain - a secure technology originally developed as the basis of the crypto-currency bitcoin - according to the company. Sami Honkonen, the company's CEO said the new system will ease the process of selling property.

"Real estate investors can make deals in their office without meetings, while a family selling their home can enjoy a cup of coffee with the new owners and the real estate agent in their kitchen and close the deal there and then. Digitalisation creates new possibilities," Honkanen said.

Many firms were involved in developing the new system, including the banks Aktia, Danske Bank, Nordea, OP and S-Bank, according to Dias.

Other participants include real estate agencies OP-Kiinteistökeskus and Kiinteistömaailma, as well as developers Skanska and YIT.

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