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A housing and property observatory for the canton of Fribourg

31 Aug 2018

On 30 August 2018, fourteen private and public stakeholders decided to join forces and form an association to create the housing and property observatory. Its mission is to provide information geared towards the specific requirements of the local stakeholders in the property market, assess the status of the housing situation and suggest projections at a regional level. It will be organised by the School of Management Fribourg (HEG-FR).

A reference information system for the regional property market

Demographics, ageing, different family models, mobility and income levels all have an influence on our requirements in terms of accommodation, and what is on offer does not always match up. The local stakeholders in this market would like useful information to allow them to adapt what they have on offer to the regional reality, where to build, what type of apartments to build, at what level to set rental prices, what is the potential for renovating existing accommodation? “Improve knowledge in order to improve strategy,” is the preferred option of the private and public organisations which have decided to join up in a non-profit association in order to create a housing and property observatory. A the core of this information system, there is a dashboard based on four elements, existing accommodation, needs of the population, use of land and a rent chart, which meet the specific requirements of the local stakeholders. The articulation of the indicators on the dashboard should allow not only an evaluation of the current situation, but also projections which are useful in terms of the planning of new buildings or renovations on a regional scale. This kind of dashboard requires the processing, analysis and updating of reliable data from government registers and property professionals.

A housing and property observatory to meet a need in the canton of Fribourg

The housing and property observatory is based on a need in the canton of Fribourg for a strategic tool for the property sector. This need is based on the Fribourg members of parliament and the Council of State’s desire to support an instrument of this kind rather than a new canton-level legislation on housing. Its usefulness has also been recognised by the local stakeholders affected by the housing situation, who were questioned in line with a HEG-FR research project led by Prof. Marilyne Pasquier.  

The aim of this research project was to determine whether an observatory would be relevant or not, and, if so, to establish a format and the framework conditions. Given the still timely market situation, those surveyed were clearly in favour of the creation of an observatory, primarily to encourage networking of information and to put forward suggestions to ensure a housing offer better tailored to residents’ needs.

However, the research project also highlighted a need for objectivity and neutrality from the organisation responsible for the observatory.

An association to mobilise private and public stakeholders to achieve more

“The legislative and executive powers have gathered the views of various private stakeholders in order to gauge the need for a property decision-making tool,” explains Olivier Curty, Councillor of State in charge of the Finance & Employment Department. Therefore, through its housing department, the State of Fribourg decided to get involved alongside the private partners in the new association for a housing and property observatory in Fribourg. As well as the State of Fribourg, this public/private partnership also involves twelve other stakeholders to ensure that the observatory is aligned to the concerns and priorities of the Fribourg property market. Unlike other observatories, an association form was chosen in order to encourage the mobilisation of the stakeholders involved and allow a flexible structure given the housing challenges facing the canton of Fribourg. As an independent, scientific body, the new observatory will be based at, and organised by, HEG-FR.