Help people proving they have enough money to pay their rent while making the act of renting simpler.

Year : 
2022



Missions : 
Product Design
User Research

Prototyping
UI Design


Tools :
Figma
Maze
Protopie
Notion

Finding an apartment these days is becoming more and more complex, more and more difficult. With the fear of unpaid bills, agencies and landlords are asking for more and more guarantees.

However, not everyone fulfills these guarantees perfectly, and some are refused. Young people leaving school, entering the working life, job seekers, auto-entrepreneurs starting a business, single parents... So many situations which are often put aside, in spite of sometimes a very good solvency.

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About the project

This project was born from a personal desire, on the one hand to respond to a growing problem, on the other hand to grow as a product designer. To do this, I tried to explore a maximum of stages of the double diamond while respecting a relatively short timing.

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Discover & Understand

The idea came to me while looking for a place to live myself. Just out of school, with a short deadline, I had to face several months of intensive research to find a property. Despite a sufficient financial situation, but without a stable job, it was impossible for me to make my case to the real estate agencies.
The real estate market in France, and more particularly in the big cities, is under strong pressure: more and more applicants, less and less leases available for rent. How then, in this context, can one find a decent home, without exhausting oneself by repeating the same thing over and over again, making hundreds of phone calls that do not lead to results ?

" After 5 months of looking for an apartment in Paris, as an entertainment worker, I don't know how to defend my application so that it is accepted.

Adam, 26yo - Paris

Stakes

Avoiding forgery and the use of forgeries to achieve one's goals - 

Many young profiles are forced to use false information and falsify pay slips to obtain housing. The aim of the project will be to prevent this from happening.

Le point.fr - 2020

355K available in student residences -

In France, there are only 355,000 places available in student residences for 2.7 million registered students, which represents only 13% of housing for students.

Vie Publique - 2022

1 out of 2 primary residences is a rented residence -

The gap between the incomes of tenants and homeowners has widened, forcing more and more people to rent for longer and longer periods.

INSEE - 2017

2 out of 3 young people admit to having difficulty finding housing -

67% of young people between the ages of 20 and 26 have difficulty finding housing. The first cause mentioned is the price of rent, followed closely by the crucial lack of available housing.

Paroles aux jeunes - 2018

 

Problematic

How, in France, can young people in difficult situations find decent housing in the face of more solid records ?

Problems

Goals

There are many problems the users are facing :

- Proving they have enough money to pay their rent
- Know which advertisers they've called earlier,  which one they have to call etc.
- Remember the answers they got or didn't


Provide a smoother, simpler search experience : 

- Enable these profiles to find decent housing
- To allow the gathering of research to avoid unnecessary waste of energy
- To prove one's solvency despite one's situation
- To ensure contact and follow-up of applications


State of the art

Several tools exist on the market to find an accommodation today in France.

Among those shown here, some are search tools, others are tools or insurances to deal with unpaid rents. I have noticed a great heterogeneity of platforms, which often multiply and group more or less the same properties. Real estate agencies tend to post ads on Seloger and Leboncoin. The former is specifically dedicated to real estate ads, while the latter offers a selection of objects, cars and second-hand goods of all kinds. Having a vision of this market allows me to understand which are the potential levers to be activated to obtain a greater user satisfaction in his search act.

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Qualitative & Quantitative surveys

To understand the subject a little more deeply, I conducted a quantitative survey. 28 people were interviewed and were able to answer different questions among which :

- How old are you?
- Where do you live?
- Are you in higher education?
- Are you still living with your parents?
- Are you looking for housing?
- Are you having trouble finding a property, or have you had trouble finding a property to rent recently? If so, what is the reason? Budget, difficult tenant record, saturated market?
- How did you overcome this problem? Free housing, purchase, student residence?
- What tool(s) did you use to locate the housing you wanted?
- Did you have to multiply the platforms? If so, which ones did you have to use? Leboncoin? Seloger ? Bienici ? PAP ?
...

On this basis, I was able to identify several interesting points:

More than two-thirds of the participants expressed great difficulty in finding housing. For more than half of them, they live in cities with more than 500k inhabitants. Among them, nearly 75% are under 30 years old.
The main reason given, after the lack of available properties on the market, is a multitude of applications refused because of a delicate situation: unemployed, retraining, entertainment intermittent, self-employed...

Subsequently, qualitative surveys carried out on 4 people were able to shed light on certain aspects mentioned above.

In addition to the difficulty of having one's file accepted, it is above all the paradox between salaries and files that emerged. The vast majority of those interviewed expressed the tendency of agencies to be too afraid of unpaid bills. However, they all present a comfortable situation: variable but comfortable salaries, guarantors, state guarantee...
This allowed me to understand that there is still a lack of confidence in tenants in France. Although the fear of unpaid bills is legitimate, it becomes extremely difficult to prove one's solvency. In addition, the French tax conditions, such as the Pinel law, make it difficult to access certain housing depending on the reference tax income.

Personas

The above elements allowed me to quickly establish the profiles for which it was complex to find an accommodation and to give confidence to the advertisers.

Young people leaving school - Paradoxically, students have less difficulty finding housing because agencies accept guarantors. As soon as they no longer have student status, guarantors are no longer accepted and only salaried income counts, regardless of alimony or disposable funds...

Profiles with variable incomes - Open-ended contracts, self-employed, entertainment workers, people in professional retraining... So many profiles that do not allow agencies to ensure that funds are available to guarantee proper payment of the rent.


The subject also concerns real estate agencies and advertisers - what would be the interest for them of a new platform, and what do they have to reproach the current tools? After having interviewed two of them, I could understand that the existing tools do not allow to select efficiently the applications. They have to manually sort, arrange, and check the elements to choose several candidates to organize a first visit. It is sometimes difficult to verify the profile of the persons, as the quality of the files is so heterogeneous.

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Define

After having defined the project a little more, it is now time to develop it further. The first step, before development, is of course to generate ideas. As a (former) industrial designer, it was impossible for me not to pick up a pencil and paper to imagine a solution. The only question that still needed to be answered was: What form will the platform take? A SaaS? A mobile application? A website? Several of these solutions? After some research and talking to some users, it turns out that I found several important points. The use of a mobile application will allow users to quickly perform a search, be up to date with their applications and quickly respond to a housing offer. 

Insights

In view of these problems, I started by drawing a mindmap allowing me to gather the elements necessary for the good development of a possible platform. This allowed me to have in mind some insights for the improvement of the user experience, and to define entry points to the subject.

MINDMAP

In order to understand the points to be improved, I first wanted to understand which path users were going through today, from the first search for a property to the handing over of the keys, passing through all the intermediate stages.

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In order to go deeper into the subject, I started mapping the different features that could be interesting to deal with and add to the project.

INSIGHTS

Fill in your profile - I thought it would be interesting to gather in one place your application file, in order to make it easy to access for advertisers, easy to modify and not time consuming. Rather than sending multiple emails, it seems more interesting to me to centralize your file, which can also be verified by the platform.

Available properties - In a rather traditional way, the platform must be able to centralize as many ads as possible, and ask the advertisers to fill in the ads, whether they are private individuals or professionals: location, neighborhood, price, surface area, access conditions...

Apply alone or with others - The idea seemed to me to be promising to be able to pool the application elements in the case of a multiple application (couple, roommate).

Pay directly your rent - This is the solution that seems to me the most interesting, allowing to remove this lack of confidence of the advertisers towards the tenants. The idea is that the platform checks every month the funds available on the bank account(s) dedicated to the payment of the rent, in order to inform the advertiser and thus to set up a healthy relationship between tenant and advertiser/landlord.

Divide your rent - Related to the previous feature, the idea is to be able to divide your rent, and thus simplify the management of money in a roommate or a couple.

Ideate & Develop

After having defined the project a little more, it is now time to develop it further. The first step, before development, is of course to generate ideas. As a (former) industrial designer, it was impossible for me not to pick up a pencil and paper to imagine a solution. The only question that still needed to be answered was: What form will the platform take? A SaaS? A mobile application? A website? Several of these solutions? After some research and talking to some users, it turns out that I found several important points. The use of a mobile application will allow users to quickly perform a search, be up to date with their applications and quickly respond to a housing offer. 

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After starting to generate ideas, to unlock some aspects of the application, I quickly felt the need to map the user flow of the application, to then produce lo-fi prototypes and thus validate quite quickly how the elements fit together.

USER-FLOW

Following the first sketches, I quickly made lo-fi wireframes to validate or invalidate certain things, notably the navigation, the hierarchy of elements and the way the pages were presented one after the other.

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Deliver

In response to these initial discovery and development phases, I came up with Ownly, a mobile solution aimed at aggregating market ads, asking advertisers for as much information as possible. The goal is to allow complex, delicate profiles to fill out their application beforehand, so that they can apply quickly and not have to repeat the same thing over and over to multiple agencies. In addition, the application allows you to pay your rent directly from Ownly. If the user has found their property, the application ensures that the funds are available before each rent due date, and thus reassures the agencies that the rent has been paid. If this is not enough, Ownly also offers subscription packages for end users to insure unpaid rent.

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Access to thousand of ads available

The user can explore the thousands of available offers, search by more or less precise criteria, or by tags.
The ads are detailed and complete, and present the necessary information for a good understanding of them. They present in particular the possibility or not to present a state guarantee, physical guarantors etc

Complete your profil once and send as applications as you want !

Here, the user registers and fills in his file correctly beforehand by indicating his situation, his identity, the identity of his guarantors and he adds the necessary documents.

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Save and manage your ads

Users are able to manage their ads and find the flats they saved for later.

Contact the advertisers

One other feature of the app is to send messages to the advertisers, apply to flats you want to, and then find all the applications in one place, enable the users to quickly know wheir they applied or no.

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Pay directly with Ownly

I wanted to enable users to pay their rent with the app directly, allowing them to be trusted as individuals. It is hard enough to have confident from the advertisers, and that's one of the main reason many people don't find a flat.

Get quick access to the app

With the widgets availables, users can have a quick access to their applications, messages...

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Conclusion

This project was a short project, carried out over two weeks, with the aim of improving myself, increasing my skills. Of course, many things remain to be done, to be improved. The interface would need many improvements, both in the UI and in the architecture. This project allowed me to put my finger on the points to improve.

Say hello ! 🖐

I'm always happy to talk with you whether it is for something big or small ! 

Lyon, France 

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