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This Startup Wants to Be the Amazon of Real Estate

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Ryan Williams wants to use technology to give more investors access to commercial real estate–and grow their wealth over time.

Ryan Williams, co-founder of Cadre, an online platform for investing in commercial real estate.

Ryan Williams is noteworthy–even without factoring in his famous co-founders Jared and Joshua Kushner, the former of whom is not only Donald Trump‘s son-in-law, but is also a key adviser in the Trump administration.

Although the Kushners helped found the real-estate investing startup with Williams in 2014, their roles today are strictly as advisers, says Williams, who met Joshua when they both were undergraduate students at Harvard University. However, it was reported today in The Wall Street Journal that the elder Kushner still maintains his investment in the company, which allegedly wasn’t disclosed upon joining the administration. (The Cadre investment is said to be held by an entity called BFPS Ventures, listed as owning unspecified New York properties valued at more than $50 million, according to the initial disclosure filing.) Williams was unable to be reached for comment on the allegations.

Even so, the 29-year-old Williams is a force, as is his company. Since launching, Cadre has generated nearly $1 billion worth of deals, raising close to $70 million in funding from high-profile investors such as Peter Thiel, Goldman Sachs, and Jack Ma.

The Idea

The idea for Cadre didn’t come immediately to Williams. He started his first business during puberty–a sports apparel manufacturer called Rapappy–which he sold before graduating from high school. Later on, when attending Harvard, Williams launched a second startup, connecting undergraduate students to business school professors.

It wasn’t until the housing market crashed that he got his biggest idea: As small, commercial properties were being auctioned off for pennies and cents, “there was clearly a disconnect between what the homes were worth and what they were being auctioned for,” he recalls. He wanted to buy into the opportunity.

So Williams set up a website where he could analyze these homes using a tax parcel ID–which tracks the value of a property over time–and measured this against what they were selling for. Using the data, and bolstered by the cash of wealthy Harvard alums including the Kushners, he started buying dozens of properties and flipping them for three times their original price. “By the time I graduated, I was at a crossroads: Do I scale this business nationally, or do I do tech banking at Goldman Sachs?” he recalls thinking.

Williams decided to do both. He pulled 18-hour days as an investment banker–and then would quietly work on his startup from the comfort of a supply-closet-size room by night. Real estate, he figured, was a valuable asset that ought to be made available to more (and more average) investors.

The Premise

Cadre is an e-commerce site for investing in real estate. It connects customers–primarily wealthy individuals, referred to as “qualified purchasers”–to property deals across the U.S. (Cadre requires a minimum investment of a few hundred thousand dollars; that’s somewhat less than what a traditional fund requires, but likely more than what you’d pay to buy into a real estate investment trust, or REIT, which trades like common stock.) Williams declined to comment on what exactly the company charges its investors–it asks for an upfront fee and a recurring subscription rate–though notes that it’s in the range of a “couple hundred basis points.” A fund, by contrast, will typically take 2 percent of the investment, and then 20 percent of profits over time.

Think of it this way: “We’re giving people direct, deal-by-deal access to commercial real estate, like you would buy and sell something on Amazon,” says Williams. The technology, he says, allows the company to be more nimble than some competitors. Deals on Cadre can be completed in weeks, rather than the standard months. The company also claims that its deals are more transparent than a typical fund’s, where the managers, not the investors, are the ones making decisions about the assets.

The Opportunity

Analysts agree that transparency is something that is largely lacking in the industry. “Traditionally, the market has been dominated by brokers, and there are very few people who are aware of the price of a deal being struck,” notes Surabhi Kejriwal, the real estate research leader for the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, a consulting firm. “Now, the difference is that a lot of these technology startup companies are trying to disrupt the space.”

Although Cadre faces competition mainly from the traditional brokers, a growing number of startups have emerged in the real estate leasing space, such as 42Floors, a San Francisco website that lists commercial real estate and office rentals, and Rofo, an online marketplace for property listings and potential tenants that can facilitate lease deals without broker intervention. (The former, incidentally, has received investment from Joshua Kushner’s Thrive Capital.) In a recent report, “Commercial Real Estate Redefined,” Deloitte suggests that over the next several years, brokerage companies will be forced to “transform into technology firms.”

In this climate, it’s perhaps not surprising that Cadre has grown rapidly. Williams says that a Series C fundraising round is soon to come. The company has also reportedly generated a $250 million “backstop,” a pool of capital from the family office of George Soros, a prominent investor and philanthropist. In an interview, Williams declined to comment on the source of this backstop, though he did say Cadre will use the funds if there’s a property it wants to buy before it has investors lined up.

The Challenges

Still, the size of the opportunity itself is unclear. “The real estate industry itself is niche,” says Deloitte’s Kejriwal, who notes that Cadre may struggle to compete with traditional brokers over time. “At one level, you could say they’re being more transparent, but the traditional players also have their own space. We’re not sure if people are receptive to doing real estate deals online.”

Samir Kaul, a founding partner with venture capital firm Khosla Ventures and an investor in Cadre, also points out that getting to scale could be a challenge for the one-year-old company–and its wunderkind co-founder.

“They are bringing technology to real estate,” Kaul says, “so they’ll face the same kinds of challenges that tech does.” While many tech startups boast a trove of venture capital funding, comparatively few are profitable; it’s therefore unclear how a startup like Cadre might fare during an economic downturn, or as the Federal Reserve continues to hike interest rates. Kaul characterizes these as challenges that are “beyond” the company’s control.

Williams, for his part, is well aware of the challenges ahead–and harks back to the early days, when he couldn’t afford to offer salaries and paid his employees out of pocket. “I love proving people wrong,” he says. “There have been some instances where things have seemed uncertain, but I like absorbing uncertainty. That’s my role here as CEO.”

Correction: An earlier version of the story misstated the amount of Cadre’s backstop. He has a reserve of $250 million.

Source: Inc.com

Technology

Appoint Housecraft App For Your Interior Designing Job

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Do you have a knack for interior designing? Did you always dream about being an interior designer but could never really get a head start at it? Is your home in a dire state for a revamp? Do you like to change your interiors often?

If your answer is yes then we have the perfect solution for you. The answer to your prayers is the refreshing Housecraft App. The app is available only on iPhone App Store for free.

It is a fairly easy app that can be used to design any interior living space with the choice of several pre-fed furniture and décor items. You can use your phone’s camera and watch the power of augmented reality to place fully rendered 3D models anywhere in your world.

For example if you want to redo your living room. All you have to do is open your phone camera and scan the room. You would be surprised at how accurately it takes measurements. It then lets you drop all the furniture you can think of. You can resize each object so you can customize it according to your room. Plus, you can admire objects from any angle, in any light! Once you achieve a set-up that you like, you can save it for later reference.

The app is a break through at many levels. To start with you design your own home and test it on the app so you can actually see the outcome of your design. For people who like to mix and match and change décor items on a regular basis can use this app for better visualization of their ideas. It is easy to save room configurations and try them out anywhere. Thus great help in apartment hunts, reorganizing a room, testing how new furniture will look, and more. With their video recording feature you can share your creations with your friends or family.

Also Read: 5 Real Estate Tech Startups in India You Can’t Ignore

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5 Real Estate Tech Startups in India You Can’t Ignore

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5 Tech Startups in India You Can’t Ignore

The real estate sector is one of the biggest contributors to the country’s economy. It is no wonder that the sector is booming with newest technologies that are changing the age-old industry norms and raising industry standards. Here are five tech start ups that you need to take note of:

NESTAWAY

5 Tech Startups in India You Can’t Ignore

If you have ever faced a rental problem and most of us have, this is the thing that you need. NestAway is India’s home rental network for singles that offers rental solutions via latest technology and best design.

Founded in January 2015, NestAway is an app that lets you find, book, pay, move-in and out of a rental home anywhere in India. They basically manage both parties in a rental situation and turn unfurnished houses in to furnished homes and offer them at affordable prices on sharing basis. Deepak Dhar, one of NestAway’s four cofounders, says “It’s a new concept for owners and a solution for tenants. Plus we’re solving the youth housing crisis of upwardly mobile urban migrants in cities.” It began in Bengaluru and today is spread in 9 metro cities of India.

Website: nestaway.com

NoBroker

5 Tech Startups in India You Can’t Ignore

A Bangalore based real estate search portal, NoBroker eliminates broker and directly connects flat owners and tenants. Founded in 2014, NoBroker claims to work on the basis of technology that identifies and abolishes brokers. Started as a rental platform, they have now forayed into brokerage free buy/sell property as well. They verify each listing to make sure they are owners and no middlemen. They offer maximum information in the most accessible format, thus saving you time, money and energy to actually go physically hunting for house.

Website: nobroker.in

SmartOwner

5 Tech Startups in India You Can’t Ignore

Find the biggest market for investors here; all the opportunities that you won’t find on general market. SmartOwner brings forward some of the carefully curated investment opportunities from the fastest growing cities in India. Projects are vetted by law firm after meticulous checks. It verifies all the listing to make sure the pricing and specifications are in line with the market trends. Thus it offers well calculated risk and returns. People benefit from the curated high-return opportunities.

Website: smartowner.com

Approach

5 Tech Startups in India You Can’t Ignore

Approach helps you to conveniently and accurately manage scientific data which enables you to grow your business strategically instead of hit and miss methods. Real estate is a growing sector and it needs such solutions where management can take accurate decision based on solid data. Approach lets you manage your inventory from any location. Cloud telephony lets you track all your campaigns and calls from anywhere. Automated SMS and Email Marketing allow you to connect with your audience and also offer in-depth analytics of click-rate and subscriber activity. You can now even calculate the returns on investment from all your media spending and campaigns.

Website: approach.one

GrabHouse

5 Tech Startups in India You Can’t Ignore

Established in 2013, Grabhouse is a no broker website that helps people find flats, flat mates and tenants quickly and without much effort. It is the first venture that is a 100 percent broker free house renting platform. It is able to achieve this by using powerful technologies that allow stakeholders to enhance their business. Their target group lies between 18-28 years; they are mostly students or young professionals who are looking for decent places to stay while saving a buck. Even on-ground assistance is provided after lead generation for a nominal fee.

Website: grabhouse.com

 

Also Read: Technology And Real Estate: Reaching New Heights

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Alibaba Now Enters Housing Rental Market In China

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Alibaba Now Enters Housing Rental Market In China

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, signed an agreement with Zhejiang province to use the company’s technology in order to build an online system for house rentals. As per the agreement, this system will include all the apartments that are put up for rent by an individual, government, developers as well as agents.

The Xinhua news agency reported that the Hangzhou City in Zhejiang province will be able to use this application to seek houses on rent. The website by Alibaba will help people at every stage of the procedure, right from searching for a home to apartment contract signing and later payments.    

Han Junqing, director of Hangzhou Real Estate Registration Center, said, “Information on apartments, user reviews, and credit ratings of owners, renters, and agents will all be shared.”

The system is called the Smart House Renting System and will be supported by Alibaba’s technology, data, and commerce credit system. The government sources have revealed that it can prevent fraudulent deals.

At present, the housing rental market in China is dominated by real estate agents, and fraud and disputes are not uncommon in all the major cities. There are big real estate players with their own apps however that information is not shared with others.

People seeking homes for rents often have to refer to different apps and compare their offers as these companies lack the Zhima Credit from Alibaba subsidiary Ant Financial’s which is a much more mature credit system.

The government of China is prioritising the rental market’s development to rein in runaway home prices in the country’s big cities. The Central government chose Hangzhou among the first 12 cities to take bold reforms to boost the rental market.

Also Read: Technological Solutions That Are Helping The Commercial Real Estate Industry

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