WeWork – A Cautionary Tale For All PropTech Players

As the year of 2019 draws to a close, it’s hard to forget one of the biggest lessons learned in the business world: WeWork’s failed IPO at USD 47 billion leaving SoftBanks to intervene with a ‘stimulus package’, which leaves WeWork at a valuation today of USD 10-12 billion.

For those interested in reading more into WeWork’s story, here are some informative pieces: Feedough’s “WeWork Business Model, an in-depth analysis of WeWork’s business model; Harvard Business Review’s “No, WeWork Isn’t A Tech Company. Here’s Why That Matters, which breaks down WeWork’s ‘taboo’; and Bloomberg’s video “The Spectacular Rise and Fall of WeWork to get a better grasp of the situation.

From this saga, we hope PropTech players take a step back and re-evaluate three important lessons:

1. Are you In the tech business or real estate business
Many start-ups often frame themselves as tech companies in hopes to obtain a higher valuation from a larger pool of potential investors. A business should only be classified as tech-driven only if the core business is selling tech as a product or service, as the high valuations associated with technology companies are their ability to generate enormous profits and scale at a fast speed with relatively low investment. In our view, WeWork is not a tech company and they should be frank with their investors to manage expectations.

2. The potential impact of the proprietary technology
It is hard to understand how much tech has played a part in WeWork’s business. WeWork claimed that they employed data analytics and another smart tech to improve the efficiency of their spaces, how people use their spaces, and where to build next. Yet, isn’t this the knowledge and insights provided by real estate experts (such as brokers)? While we associate the utilization of technology as helping businesses make better decisions, there is a vast array of tech companies that don’t necessarily deliver on this promise – WeWork included.

3. The recession threat
Some people argue that the sole reason WeWork failed was because of bad timing – this is partly true as WeWork is a subleasing business – while others argue WeWork failed to build proprietary technologies to protect itself during a recession – partly true assuming you agree WeWork utilizes technology in its core business.

In our view, WeWork’s expansion into other types of real estate improves diversification depending on its mix. For example, expanding the number of gyms increases risk during a recessionary period, as their occupancy suffers on account of fewer active memberships. However, owning hospitals and public-funded schools would be ‘defensive’ and improve WeWork’s resilience during a recession as these segments would ‘operate as normal’. If WeWork were developed as a technology company, they should have allocated more attention and effort on developing tech to lower their cash burn to ensure their clients stick around during bad times.

WeWork is a big lesson that should not be ignored. We hope PropTech players have not lured down a similar path in losing sight of their core focus: building technologies that impact and transforms the real estate industry.


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The Forces That Will Shape The Future of Real Estate Investing

Global funding in PropTech reached more than USD 4 Billion in 2019, according to Pitchbook. It’s worth considering how technological advancements will shape the future of real estate investing. “The Inevitable: Understanding The 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future”, a book by Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine and one of the leading technology thinkers of our generation, forecasted technological imperatives that will shape and transform our society over the next thirty years. More specifically, 3 out of the 12 forces, mentioned in the book, will inevitably transform real estate investing on a massive scale: the force of sharing, filtering, and questioning.

Sharing
We now live in a world of abundant information – with just a few clicks away, internet services (like Google or Wikipedia) demonstrate the power of networking effect. Technology can enhance collaboration within a community on a mass-scale. Experts, from different parts of the world with different expertise, share their knowledge freely to foster better collaboration.
 
Filtering
With the abundance of choices we are exposed to, it is impossible to assess everything ourselves. Filtering is needed to select the few but right things we should pay attention to. With the combination of crowdsourcing, expert curators, and technology advancement, real estate investors can harness strong personalization to obtain tailored suggestions and the best available projects that suit their appetite.
 
Questioning
“Every year we ask the Internet a trillion questions, and every year the search engines give back a trillion answers,” says Kevin Kelly. The future technologies will unleash enormous big questions that we could have never thought to ask before. Promoting the freedom to ask good quality questions are far more valuable than good answers. Real estate investors will constantly explore to ask unique personalized questions to find the best result.
 
We at Denzity believe those phenomena will fill the gap – providing better-informed decisions to real estate investors for their increasing appetite for cross-border diversification. As such, we constantly challenge ourselves during our product design on how we can deliver a better experience for your exploration in the world of real estate investing. 

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PropTech: Past, Present, and Future.

PropTech: Past, Present, & Future

It’s no secret that real estate is one of the largest industries in the world, yet it is one of the last to adopt the technology. It is no surprise that a large number of startups have spawned to tackle this industry. Beyond headline-grabbing companies like Compass, Opendoor, and Airbnb, critical problems remain in our industry that entrepreneurs are yet to solve.

Since the 1980s, there have been three major waves in PropTech (Property Tech).

Early PropTech from 1980 to 2000: With the introduction of basic solutions such as Excel, real estate companies began to implement enterprise software solutions in their workflow to drive more quantitative approaches to their investments and portfolio management (such as Yardi, CoStar, and Loopnet). These solutions tend to be closed-form while requiring heavy customization.

PropTech 1.0 from 2001 to 2007: With the increasing demand to seek information, real estate online aggregators emerge (such as Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia). Like other social media and e-commerce portals, these online aggregators allow users to find incumbent information by leveraging their cross-sided network effects.

PropTech 2.0 from 2008 to 2019: As consumer-preferred access over ownership (the shared economy movement), companies (such as Airbnb, Opendoor, and PurpleBricks) are focused on improving user experience and participation. 

PropTech 3.0 from present to beyond: According to CB Insights, venture funding in PropTech from 2008 to 2018 has increased from USD 20 Million to more than USD 4 Billion. The increasing interest in PropTech has grown considerably as many pain points still exist.

We at Denzity believe the fragmented and inefficient process in real estate transactions need to be addressed and solved. Firstly, as investors have access to limited information and data set, they still rely on their intuitions when making an investment. Secondly, there is a lack of investment options that investors can access. Therefore, we want to introduce solutions to digitize workflows and elevate the transparency so that better investment decisions can be made.

Denzity Forum is one of the solutions that seek to solve a real estate investor’s pain point on understanding how to carry out the due diligence process properly before investing in a real estate project. The forum is always improving, and we always challenge ourselves to make it as easy to use as possible.

You can sign up to the forum here: https://forum.denzity.io/

Thanks for staying tuned and speak to you soon.

Darren

Co-Founder, Denzity


Finding The Right Experts

Denzity. Find the right experts

Whenever my buddies and I are geeking out on real estate investments, we always share what we learned and why we think our projects have potential. The truth is that not many people (like us) understand how to carry out the due diligence process properly before investing in a real estate project. Denzity Forum helps you find tailored advice directly from experts.

In our previous post [https://bit.ly/343bMiV], we described how Denzity Forum works. I want to give you a better idea of what kind of experts you would need.

Good due diligence starts by finding the right experts experienced in pointing out key things to consider. Experts involved in a real estate transaction typically include brokers, surveyors, lawyers, asset and property managers, tax advisors, appraisers, financiers, developers, and so on. 

Real estate in different regions carry attributes that require specific knowledge to better evaluate an investment. As the market becomes more competitive, each type of professional has specialized their domain.

For example, brokers may specialize in a specific property type, size or location, with their own strategic expertise. When facing a mountain of investment opportunities, each with a different angle, it’s important to ask questions in an inclusive community of experts to share their knowledge with you.

Whenever you post a question on Denzity Forum, we reach out to experts we have worked with or been referred to. Our goal is to find you the best quality answers. If we feel your question should have multiple sources, we invite multiple experts to provide you with different perspectives. By crowdsourcing information from multiple sources, you can make a better-informed decision of what your preferred projects are.

I can’t wait for you to start using Denzity Forum. We hope every time you visit our community-driven forum, you gain better insights and knowledge for your exploration.

You can sign up to the forum here: https://forum.denzity.io/

Thanks for staying tuned and speak to you soon.

Darren 

Co-Founder, Denzity

Real Estate Investment Insights And Access A Global Community Of Experts

We started Denzity to help users learn about the real estate fractional ownership (“REFO”) industry and its impending impact.

However, there are many concerns when it comes to real estate investing, such as insufficient information, lack of options, and liquidity. Investors should also take into consideration market trends and outlooks, legal structure, tax regulations, benchmarking, and due diligence. 

From my experience, a lot of people are interested in real estate investing but (frankly) don’t know where to start. This is why we are launching Denzity Forum. Our forum allows you to post specific questions (in real estate investing) and we find experts to share their insights. 

Think Quora for real estate investing. 

For example,

“I am a Hong Kong citizen and looking to invest in real estate based in Vancouver. What type of tax would I be subject to?”

“I want to look into properties in France. What is the investing procedure that might be different?”

“I have a budget of HKD 500,000. Where can I buy a nice vacation house in Spain?”

To find the answer, you’d typically need to contact a few brokers & professionals with the hopes they have that knowledge. On Denzity, it’s our job to find the right experts for you!

Our current direction is to bridge a community of like-minded, real estate enthusiasts with experts around the world. By enabling greater in exploring the global real estate investment world, make your money generate better returns with real estate exposure. 

You can sign up for the forum here: https://forum.denzity.io/

Thanks for staying tuned and speak to you soon.

Darren 

Co-Founder, Denzity

How Real Estate Fractional Ownership Platforms Work

Real estate fractional ownership (“REFO”) makes investing in real estate more accessible by lowering the minimum investment amount committed by each investor. Regardless of your net worth, you can now benefit from real estate’s potential for generating consistent cash flow and long-term capital appreciation. The REFO industry includes real estate crowdfunding, peer to peer lending, and security token offering. The REFO platform identifies the real estate investment, based on their expertise and preference, then conduct the necessary due diligence. Subsequently, the platform sets a timeline to raise the required fund amount and makes the project information available to investors. The investors are given a period If the investors want to invest, they then pool their money together (with less than HKD 200,000) and acquire a piece of real estate which is managed by a professional asset and property management team. That’s how a REFO platform works!

Even though this new real estate investing method allows more people to have real estate ownership, it is time-consuming and difficult to evaluate great quantities of real estate investments. An investor needs to be aware of many aspects (I.e. market trends and outlooks, legal structure and tax regulations, insights into the opportunities and investment due diligence process, etc.). Frankly, a lot of people desire to partake in real estate investing, but they do not know where to start! Denzity is here to help you.

If you have other questions related to real estate investing, you can let us know by filling out the survey here: https://forms.gle/vYAduHAeWkJ57ueC8.

Thanks for staying tuned and speak to you soon.

Darren 

Co-Founder, Denzity

Invest In Real Estate With Less Than HKD 200,000 Using Denzity

Invest In Real Estate With Less Than HKD 200,000 Using Denzity

I’d like to explain to you how you can invest in real estate with less than HKD 200,000 (~USD 25,000) using Denzity. First, let me walk you through what Denzity does.

Denzity is a global database of real estate fractional ownership investments. Our portal lets you find the most suitable projects based on your investment criteria. By combining multiple information sources, we present the investment in an easily digestible form so that you can compare projects faster and easier.

We expect to launch an online forum next week so that like-minded real estate fanatics, like you, can learn and share your insights and knowledge. Think Quora for real estate investing. You can post questions on real estate investment and we find experts and REFO platforms to respond and provide more guidance. 

Our idea is to bridge the potential REFO investor community with experts and REFO platforms around the world. It is key for Denzity to support the REFO industry’s development globally. By encouraging and enabling the exploration of real estate investing, we believe we together can help the industry to strive!

For the next post, I’ll explain how REFO platforms work and the investment process.

Thanks for staying tuned and speak to you soon.

Darren 

Co-Founder, Denzity

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The New Way Of Real Estate Investing: Real Estate Fractional Ownership

If you have been following us closely, you would know that we are big believers of the real estate fractional ownership movement. Well, that is why we founded Denzity! Today, I’d like to share with you the story of how we started Denzity and our thoughts on this movement.

Our story starts from our hometown, Hong Kong. With the city’s characteristic of free trade, low taxation, and minimum government intervention, it has been one of the world’s largest trading economy.

In recent years, the Hong Kong real estate price has dramatically increased. Rent has skyrocketed so high that life has become unaffordable. Many businesses have been forced to close as they can no longer afford rent. Recognizing this harsh reality, the city’s young generation have realized that owning a home will be impossible without a sizable mortgage or with help from family. In fact, they just want to have real estate ownership, as investment, without the need for placing all their eggs in one basket. They wish they had the opportunity to be part of the development phase in early Hong Kong, like their families had in the old days. Seeing the rapid development and urbanization around the globe, they wish to have the opportunity to invest into the future and shape the world they believe in.  

Feeling trapped in this vicious cycle, people have become increasingly frustrated and angry. This saddens me. How can the younger generation, like us, ever afford to invest in real estate and put our savings to work? I have constantly thought of how this crisis could be fixed.

After digging deeper, I have found the breakthrough – the real estate fractional ownership movement. It is a new method, which allows you to invest in a real estate investment projects with only the fractional of the property price through an online platforms. Through this type of real estate investing, you are able to invest in a wide variety of properties without having to deal with complicated processes such as working with mortgage brokers, real estate agents, or contractors.

The real estate fractional ownership platforms will also take care of the day-to-day tasks to ensure the successful completion. Allowing you to gain the returns without the hassle of managing your property. As these real estate fractional ownership platforms become popular in many different countries, you can diversify asset-backed investments worldwide with small amount of capital contribution. This movement is the medium by which everyday investors can overcome the traditional barriers to enter the real estate market. Starting with less than HKD $200,000, anyone can invest in real estate. Now, we can diversify our portfolio and lower risk by allocating capital to professional real estate managers and platforms. Having this goal in mind, Denzity was born.

By combing multiple platforms and presenting information easily digestible, Denzity can help Hong Kong people and other people from around the world to have an additional global investment gateway — allowing them to put their savings to work, something that could not be done before. The wealth generates from real estate is no longer barriered by the 1% who has the money to participate. This is the new way to seize the opportunities!

We hope our effort can make an impact to the people around us. More importantly, we hope this story speaks to you. To learn more, please join this movement with us, Denzity. Some of our followers have asked about our updates and we would like to share with you next time.

Thanks for staying tuned and speak to you soon.

Darren 

Co-Founder, Denzity

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