• Alex Harris

PropTech: Changing the Housing Market For Good


It’s no secret the housing market is changing.


Interest rates are rising. Inventory is expanding. And home prices are starting to slide from all-time highs.


These shifts are creating an ideal environment for real estate technology, also known as PropTech (property technology), companies to step in with solutions for the unmet needs of homeowners and buyers alike.


As one of the earliest categories in the Fintech market, PropTech first gained prominence around 2008 to provide better vacation rental options. Companies like AirBnB, Lending Home (now Kiavi), and Vacasa were some of the first movers in this space.


These founders spotted the gap between ownership and usage, building their products on the back of user feedback. From there, they expanded offerings to cover other parts of the rental market.


Today, we’re seeing the second generation of PropTech innovation led by many of the same founders and entrepreneurs. These companies are capitalizing on an evolving, Post-COVID market, leaning into improvements in digitization and rewriting traditionally manual processes, such as underwriting.


In the 2022 landscape, new companies are emerging to drive innovation. And, generally, these PropTech companies fall into two categories: 1) simplifying homeownership and the selling process and 2) making homeownership accessible to all types of buyers.


Let’s look at several companies disrupting the real estate landscape.


Simplifying Homeownership and the Selling Process


Before the rise of today’s PropTechs, if you wanted to sell your home the process was long, complicated, and painful. If you wanted to renovate, accessing funds was similarly painful and with limited options.


Today, new companies are streamlining the process. Their goal: make it easier to achieve your homeownership goals, whether selling, renovating, or simply using equity to pay off debt.


One such company is Splitero, providing Home Equity Investments (HEIs) for homeowners to access their equity without taking on additional debt or monthly payments. Splitero shares in the appreciation (or depreciation) of the home’s future value and doesn’t require repayment for up to 30 years.


Splitero’s HEIs allow homeowners to tap into the value of their homes without adding a monthly payment or additional debt. Splitero makes accessing home equity available not only to traditional homeowners looking to streamline their financials, but also those who may not qualify for HELOCs, have lower credit scores, or lack the ability to refinance. These consumers leverage their equity to pay down debt or make improvements to their current home.


Sundae is another notable company making moves in the PropTech space. Sundae was created to help homeowners sell their homes as-is at competitive market rates.


Sellers list their homes off-market on Sundae’s investor marketplace. Then, they receive cash offers within days of submitting all necessary documentation. They choose the offer that best fits their needs.


This marketplace brings efficiency to a previously broken process. Owners of homes that “need a little love” traditionally had few options and often found themselves victims of predatory tactics and pricing.


Sundae’s solution brings transparency, and a true market with multiple buyers bidding and getting homeowners true market value. Owners are able to sell quickly without making costly repairs or worry of being taken advantage of.


In this category, PropTech companies are breaking down barriers. They’re helping people skip unnecessary processes and maximize their financial positions. This gives consumers more options and fewer restrictions.


Making Homeownership Accessible To All


Since the Great Recession of 2008, mortgage requirements have become far more stringent. These requirements have created significant barriers to entry for the housing market. Government action during the COVID pandemic created a temporary historic shift in mortgage rates.


Fast forward to today, and inflation combating efforts have created one of the fastest rising rate environments in history. While rates are still near historical lows, the surge in home prices combined with rising rates have pushed many would-be homeowners out of the market.


Companies like Simplist have harnessed technology to offer incredibly fast underwriting mixed into a wide marketplace of lenders. The robust platform allows prospective homeowners to find the best product and rate for their unique situation. The efficiency in their process cuts down on costs traditionally associated with mortgages and provides massive savings to their customers.


Simplist not only offers a faster, easier way to find the right mortgage, but also truly removes the pain from the mortgage marketplace process by embedding their service into their partners’ onboarding processes. This isn’t merely a referral link to a lender. This is a unified and simplified process with best in market financial options for consumers.


Another company making homeownership possible with a unique model is Divvy Homes. They’re providing a new generation of “rent-to-own” alternatives for younger consumers who aren’t financially ready to buy a home. These consumers want something to show (or own) for their monthly rent.


Divvy Homes makes that possible. After prequalifying for a home-shopping budget, the consumer chooses a home within that budget, and Divvy buys it with cash. The consumer then rents the home from Divvy until they have saved enough for a down payment.


Companies like Here and Pacaso have popularized fractional property ownership with Here truly being the first to provide access to the vacation home asset class to all. With investment entry points as low as $100, Here is the first company to offer fractional investment to accredited and unaccredited investors alike. This democratization of wealth building is truly leveling the playing field.


Investment in entire investment properties has also become more accessible through companies such as Doorvest and Roofstock. Doorvest helps owners acquire, renovate and manage their property rental. With careful market curation, investors can see projected values of 21% in 1 year, 116% in 5 years and 282% in 10 years.


Between mortgages, investments, and rent-to-own options, PropTechs have found creative ways to help consumers purchase homes they wouldn’t otherwise be able to buy.


The Future of PropTech


While the PropTech industry is a few decades old, companies in this space are evolving and accelerating innovation at a faster pace than ever. These innovative solutions are giving consumers more options, better transparency and a healthier financial life. This has become a powerful shift in who can access the market.


At Fiat Ventures, we take pride in supporting the next generation of PropTech. Through close monitoring of the market, innovative growth tactics harnessed from Fiat Growth, and investing in the market leaders of tomorrow, we are proud to take part in accelerating access to the real estate market like never before.


If you’re interested in following our investment journey, sign up for our newsletter by reaching out to our Vice President, Caitlin Keep (caitlin@fiat.vc).


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