Benjamin Labra, Houm: Streamlining the Real Estate industry in Latin America, Ep 148

Latin America’s real estate market is opaque, broken, and bureaucratic. The home buying process in the region can take up to a year, and even just renting an apartment requires having another property as collateral in some countries. There are many pain points in the industry that are being unaddressed by the market.

That’s why Benjamin Labra is looking to fix the broken real estate industry in Latin America with Houm, an end-to-end solution helping property owners rent, manage and sell their properties through an online marketplace.

I sat down with Benjamin to talk about how he’s tackling some of the industry’s deepest-rooted problems and streamlining the home buying and renting process in the region. We also discuss his experience at Y Combinator and how to build and maintain company culture once you go remote.

Real estate runs in the family

Real estate runs through Benjamin’s veins. He comes from two generations of Chilean real estate developers and was practically raised on construction sites and he always knew he wanted to do something on his own. For four years he managed his own private equity real estate firm and eventually decided to jump into tech. 

Learn more about Benjamin’s journey into tech in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Houm: allowing apartment rentals without a cosigner

One of the ways in which Houm’s solution is truly revolutionary for the real estate market is that they’ve gotten rid of the cosigner. To mitigate this risk, the proptech guarantees the payment to the landlord even if the tenant doesn’t pay. In doing so, property rentals become much easier and faster to process – and can be done in less than 24 hours, compared to up to 3 weeks without Houm.

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about how Houm tackles the pain points of the real estate industry in Latin America.

The YC stamp of approval

Getting accepted into YCombinator can help many early-stage startups. Even though Benjamin and his team knew they were on the right path, the accelerator’s stamp of approval validated their vision.

Learn more about the ways in which participating in YC transformed Houm as well as the perception of US investors in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Benjamin Labra’s extensive experience in the real estate industry makes him one of the best-equipped people to tackle the challenges that property owners and tenants face in Latin America.

Outline of this episode:

  • [1:10] – About Houm
  • [2:28] – Pain points of the real estate industry in LatAm
  • [4:00] – A family of real estate developers
  • [5:32] – On Chilean talent
  • [7:33] – Jumping into tech
  • [8:35] – Switching from the investment side to running a startup
  • [10:05] – Basics of renting a property
  • [13:20] – Speeding up the renting process
  • [16:17] – A change in US investors’ perception 
  • [18:52] – Challenges of operating remotely
  • [20:28] – Advice to entrepreneurs in smaller LatAm countries
  • [21:38] – Proptech boom in LatAm
  • [22:30] – Books, blogs, & podcast recommendations
  • [23:00] – Advice to Benjamin’s younger self

Resources & people mentioned:

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