SOUTH AFRICA – HouseME, a Cape Town-based proptech startup, has secured an undisclosed amount of funding  in the fourth round of funding from new and existing investors, who are backing the company to build its position in the long-term digital letting market.

The funding will be utilised to extend HouseME’s position in the long-term digital rental and letting market.

Ben Shaw, Chief Executive Officer of HouseME, said that the company is well-positioned to capitalise on the surge of interest in online platforms, especially in the long-term letting sector which had been lagging.

“This latest round of investment coincides with our celebration of three years in operation. We’re gearing up further after having recently completed work on our improved user experience,” he said.

Founded in 2016, HouseME has grown in strides and reports a user base of more than 150 000, further representing a substantial year-on-year increase.

HouseME explains the aims of the proptech company: “HouseME’s mission is to create a world where letting and renting isn’t so fraught with stress, risk, and unfair discrimination. It’s their mission to transform residential renting, for every South African, by placing technology and data-centric decision-making at its heart. They’re committed to providing a service that offers the smartest way to rent, for landlords and tenants alike, making the whole process fair and stress-free.”

Shaw says that the company has benefited from the rapid switch to online by many South Africans.

“The number of units advertised on our site has increased materially since the beginning of the year, driven by larger property portfolios – many of whom are now moving digital, seeking the cost efficiencies of a long-term letting platform. As a result of the new normal, we’re also seeing increased interest in our risk mitigation products such as the rental guarantee.

HouseME reports that pricing and tenant demand will remain muted over the next 18 months and this is supported by the latest PayProp Rental Index released last week.

“With rental increases dipping to just 1.6% for the second quarter – half the growth rate of the previous quarter, and the lowest quarterly growth rate in its history – the index cites affordability as the major driving force behind the muted growth.“

HouseME recently conducted a large-scale survey that indicated that at least 28% of tenants had experienced a decrease in income due to the impacts of lockdown and Covid-19, which supports the findings of the latest index.

However, Shaw says that it is not all doom and gloom and claims that ” hundreds of HouseMe leases were renewed through the pandemic, and growth in listings still shows the potential ahead of the company.”

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