75 YEARS OF REAL ESTATE AGENTS IN FINLAND
The journey to real estate domination. Watch the films and follow our story!
SKVL celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2021
It is 75 years since the Finnish Estate Agents’ Association was founded in 1946. The Finnish Real Estate Agents’ Association is the largest and oldest real estate agency network in Finland, consisting of nearly 500 local offices and more than 1,700 real estate agents.
SKVL’s activities are characterised by professionalism, local and Finnish aspect, our position as the biggest real estate brokerage organisation in Finland and as a developer and problem solver in the sector.
Watch the film, follow our story!
During the centenary year, videos were published on this website, each telling a unique story of SKVL’s journey to real estate domination. The year also takes a look at SKVL’s presence and perhaps even its future. With a 75-year history, the keys to success have been found, as the member companies of the Finnish Real Estate Agents’ Association now sell 40% of all homes in Finland! But there have been many twists and turns and struggles along the way.
Story 4 – Ode to Home
Throughout your life, your home is the safe haven where you can be exactly who you want to be. It’s where you belong and where you find the people you love.
SKVL presents Ode to Home.
Story 3 – A technology pioneer
SKVL has been at the forefront of real estate agency technology since before the internet era. The listing system introduced by SKVL members in the 1970s gave a major boost to the housing market.
Story 2 – Father, son and the spirit of the times
Kiinteistönvälitystoimisto Volanen has been a member of SKVL since the 1960s. Pasi Volanen tells the story of his family business in the changing world of real estate brokerage.
Read the full story:
“My father was originally employed elsewhere, he was a book printer. But in his spare time he was interested in trading. One day he was helping some people he knew to sell a house and he was in contact with the police commissioner in Porvoo, who dealt with these permit matters. In this connection, the police commissioner recommended that my father should acquire the rights of an estate agent, as there was only one Swedish-speaking estate agent in Porvoo at that time.
In 1937, dad plucked up the courage to become a full-time estate agent. At that time, there were still no rental buildings or blocks of flats in Porvoo. Porvoo was a town of wooden houses, and around it was a wealthy countryside, where land was sold.
Then after the war, when a large number of people from Karelia moved to the area around Porvoo, my father acquired plenty of replacement farms for them from the larger farms that had been partitioned. And there were also people from Porkkala when Porkkala had to be ceded to the Soviet Union. They were also provided with replacement properties. Those from Porkkala were often fishermen and were provided with seaside properties in the Porvoo area. They were also interested in being able to sell off pieces of these seaside properties. These began to be used as plots for summer homes.
My father’s real estate office was located at home. Originally it was one room in a three-room house. It was where the telephone calls were made, where clients were met, and where deeds were signed. As a child, I watched all this close by and sometimes even answered the phone on my father’s behalf.
When people came to look at potential homes, after the war we did not have a car. We had two bicycles, two women’s bicycles. They were lent to people who came to see some place near the town. Sometimes I went along on foot to show them. Later on, when there were cars, I went to show the houses during school holidays, in the summer, on different holidays and on weekends, because I had always joined my father to see them, so I knew where they were, and my father had time for other things.
The first car we had was an old Ford, which was restored into a car for us in 1948. It was then used by my father to show the homes.
There were two newspapers in Porvoo, the Finnish-language Uusimaa and the Swedish-language Borgåbladet, which advertised the listings. There was really no other advertising. At that time, there were hardly any photographs of these listings, no fancy brochures, and nothing like this was actually required.
Back then, after the war, there were hardly any brochures about the listings, you had to visit them on the spot. Sometimes it was the seller who presented the listing, and you could send the customer there if you had an exact address. But in those days, the little roads did not always have names and the houses did not always have numbers, so it was difficult to send people to see them if you did not go along to show them yourself.
After school and the army, I moved to Helsinki and went to the Marketing College. My intention was to go into something other than real estate. However, there was a professor at the college who also worked at the School of Economics and Business Administration, and when the college ended, I ended up working in real estate agency through him. I first worked for a few companies and then I started my own business.
After college, when I worked in real estate, business was really wild. We also worked with building companies, and it could happen that in the first viewing in the site shed – when the foundations had just been laid – the whole house was sold!
When I got my own real estate agent’s rights in 1962, I first set up a home office in Helsinki. At that time, detached and terraced houses were being sold in Helsinki, and you could build them in Pakila, for example. Then I rented an office at Mikonkatu 9 in Helsinki, and SKVL also became a tenant in the same building. That’s where it all started, our co-operation with the Association.
The telephone played an important role as a tool, and at that time brochures were also made by hand with rather rudimentary devices. It was possible to do that, but these brochures had to be made at night and then the actual business was run during the day.
Newspaper advertising was an important way to get in touch with people. But it was also important to keep a record so that you did not lose customers in the future. If we did not have a suitable listing for a client at that particular moment, we would take the client’s details and promise to let them know when a listing they wanted came up for sale. This resulted in a huge card index, and it also saved on advertising costs, as most of the transactions were closed so that a customer for a new listing was found in the card index.
People left the countryside for urban centres in the 1960s in search of work. In the 1960s and 70s, people came to the city from far away in the countryside, they had never lived in an apartment building, and urban living was very special to them. But I did not have any problems with people. There was a lot of building going on in Helsinki at that time. We did not have these suburban developers’ projects for sale, but we sold plots for them.
When I moved to Kulosaari, I got into the “jet-set”. As a result, I had a very special clientele. For example, the Iraqi Embassy was next door to us, and the son of the Iraqi Ambassador played football with my son in the yard. I became the “household name” in real estate brokerage in Kulosaari.
When I was Chairman of SKVL, education was an important issue, and we tried to raise the bar so that people could be trained better and better. We also had liability insurances in the Association. When selling listings, we could tell customers that we had a liability insurance, so that if a broker made a mistake, they would be covered. But we did not have any such incidents, it was pretty smooth sailing.
I had my home telephone number printed on the brochures and business cards, so people did call home. And when I lived in Porvoo, even though the office was in Helsinki, there was so much to sell in Porvoo that I was happy to show the listings on weekends. Especially in the archipelago, you had to have a boat for the purpose of being able to visit the island sites. Yes, the working hours were rather irregular.”
Story 1 – Wild West without a sheriff
“Our country is currently experiencing the most severe shortage of properties for sale. – – – There are so many migrants and many other people in need of a place to live, who are wandering around in a sad situation of homelessness, that a property put up for sale often sells before it is even advertised in the local newspaper.”
Frans A. Kaseva in September 1946
Chairman of the Finnish Real Estate Agents 1946-1949
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Post-war Finland is a time of reconstruction, rationing and housing shortage. In the second half of the 1940s, Finland as a country and the Finns as a nation are “broken”, but at the same time there is a desire to build a new and better Finland.
1946 is the first full year of peace, but many obligations leave little time for anything other than new efforts. War reparations burden Finland’s industry and economy, commodity rationing and shortage of just about everything make everyday life difficult for Finns.
The housing shortage is one of the biggest problems. Especially in cities, the housing shortage is getting worse. In the cities that suffered most from war-time bombing raids, such as Helsinki and Turku, the war has destroyed a significant proportion of dwellings, and the war-era repair debt has increased the number of almost unusable dwellings. At the same time, new people are flooding into the larger cities, especially Helsinki, while across Finland, more than 400,000 displaced persons are struggling to find new farms and housing.
Post-war contemporaries find the housing situation, especially in Helsinki, to be downright catastrophic, and similar situations are repeated in many other towns.
The rationing of building materials ends at the end of 1949 and the rationing of building construction only from 1954 onwards. For these reasons, major urban construction is delayed until the mid-1950s. Practical difficulties plague all construction projects.
The post-war housing and real estate market is also evolving. In June 1945, real estate brokerage as a profession becomes an occupation licensed by the State Provincial Office.
At the same time, there is a process of organising among operators in the sector. Active promoters of real estate brokerage are Frans A. Kaseva in Tampere and Valde A. Hämäläinen in Helsinki. As a result of Kaseva’s activity, the founding meeting of the association of Finnish real estate agents is held in February 1946. Forty or so real estate agents from all over Finland attend the meeting.
There is a concern over the operating culture within the sector. Kaseva and the association are concerned that the post-war housing and real estate market is experiencing humbug: some operators advertise listings that have already been sold, or sell apartments and premises that were never under contract, and even completely fake properties come to light.
This is precisely what the Finnish Real Estate Agents’ Association wants to tackle, as its aim is to eliminate all kinds of fraud and exaggeration in the sector and to develop the professional skills and practices of estate agents. Gradually, the situation on the housing market is beginning to improve.
From spring 1949, the housing deficit is reduced and housing conditions are improved. The shortage of building materials eases and the pace of construction intensifies. At the same time, Finnish housing production shifts to suburban construction and industrial mass production, pushing the housing market volumes to new levels. In 1953, the number of new dwellings in Finland is the third highest in Western Europe.
In the 1950s, the construction of the welfare state is about to begin. The Finnish Real Estate Agents’ Association has been involved from the start to ensure that Finns have safe and decent homes.