After experiencing its worst quarter since 2018 at the start of the pandemic, the rent tech space showed signs of recovery in the third quarter. RET Ventures tracks the market's activity, and recently produced its first quarterly data report on the space. In the second quarter, there were only 23 early-stage deals, making for the worst quarter in the rent tech space since 2018, when RET Ventures began tracking data. In the third quarter, activity rebounded, illustrating market resilience. RET Ventures attributes the turnaround to increased adoption of technology through the pandemic.
While 2020 has thrown a raft of challenges at construction pros during the coronavirus pandemic, ConTech firms have benefited from fresh funding. With the acceleration of technology adoption on jobsites – from Zoom meetings for promoting social distancing to check-in apps that screen workers for possible COVID-19 exposure – investors have been focusing on how tech can make even deeper inroads into construction workflows. According to CB Insights, despite the pandemic, funding for construction-related technology startups is on track to hit $1.3 billion in 2020, a 56% year-over-year increase from 2019.
According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, rent collections have fallen in November 2020 versus relative to both last month and November 2019. Apartment building owners and operators are depending ever more on technology, including products aimed at facilitating self-touring, to help ensure occupancy levels remain as high as possible. Advancements in apartment self-touring include enterprise-grade smart lock platforms to allow building access. Verifying prospective residents’ identities represents another self-touring challenge to be overcome. CheckpointID, which scans driver’s licenses and selfies to vet identities before granting access, is among the technology tools available to them.
Vallejo modular housing startup Factory OS has raised $55 million from Google and Facebook, the software firm Autodesk, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and asset manager Lafayette Square Holding. The money will enable Factory OS to increase production at its second Mare Island factory and expand to Los Angeles, the company said. Factory OS cuts the cost of housing construction by pre-assembling “modules” of apartment buildings and shipping them to project sites. Factory OS raised $22.7 million last year. The company, which has completed almost 1,000 housing units in Northern California, said its costs are 20% to 40% lower than those of traditional construction.
PropTech Investment II, the second blank check company led by partners at Hennessy Capital targeting a real estate technology business, raised $200 million by offering 20 million units at $10. The company offered 2.5 million more units than anticipated. Each unit consists of one share of common stock and one-third of a warrant, exercisable at $11.50. The company is led by Co-CEO and Chairman Thomas Hennessy and Co-CEO, CFO, and Director Joseph Beck, who are currently Managing Partners of Real Estate Strategies at Hennessy Capital and previously served as Portfolio Managers at ADIA.
Some co-living companies have been weathering the storm of the coronavirus pandemic and at least one is going on the offensive. San Francisco-based Starcity announced this Thursday that it has agreed to acquire Ollie, a New York-based competitor. Like coworking, co-living’s emphasis on common areas and lower costs in exchange for less private space was impacted directly by sweeping stay-at-home advisories or orders, and perhaps just as much by individuals’ fear of mingling with someone outside their circle of trust. But Starcity was able to close on a $30 million Series B fundraising round in April.
CoStar Group has entered into an agreement to acquire Homesnap Inc., an online and mobile software platform designed for real estate agents, for $250 million. According to CoStar, more than 300,000 real estate agents use the app an average of 30 times per month. CoStar expects the acquisition to quadruple the number of users on its platform and nearly double the number of property listings from 1.4 million to more than 2.6 million.
Online mortgage lender Better.com has raised $200 million in a series D financing that put the New York-based startup at a $4 billion valuation, according to an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg. Better’s new funding round is valued at over $100 million more than it had previously quoted in late September.