Last week a post by the executive director of the industrial marketing center of the University of Chile, Andrés Vidal, generated noise on LinkedIn. In the publication, the commercial engineer stated that he had a bad experience with the Chilean proptech Houm. “In my case, I believed a lot in this new format, until the lease ended and everything has been terrible since then,” he says. His text reached 35 thousand users and this week he was contacted by the CEO, Benjamín Labra.
According to him, in the startup “they deliver an ‘acceptable’ exit from tenants without verifying the state of the property, which was in poor condition; they do not verify the payment of bills, with common expenses in arrears; there are false property condition report submissions; who submits the reports has never visited the property (does it by computer); There is a frequent change of executives, there are no managers or managers with whom a solution can be channeled quickly and there is abandonment of the property”.
From the startup they affirm that they are aware of the criticism they have received, but that they correspond to a “very limited” percentage compared to the thousands of clients they have. They also point out that this keeps them busy, and even the CEO, Benjamín Labra, has taken the phone to answer the questions of those who have had problems.
Vidal’s publication had 150 reactions and 43 comments. Some of these were users who had similar experiences, another suggested – ironically – that SERNAC was the instance for these claims and others, like scavenger birds, offered their brokerage services in response to those who had had bad experiences.
Houm is a digital real estate broker that seeks to solve bureaucracy and paperwork problems to lease or buy a property. Everything is 100% online, since the owner does not need to take charge of showing the property, taking photos of it and then managing it. From the tenant’s point of view, they offer to lease without any guarantee and remotely. Her model is based on artificial intelligence to predict optimal transaction prices.
Another of the challenges that the company has had has been the accelerated growth. The current economic situation and the drought of capital funds have made them make new decisions. “At the beginning of 2022 our plans were to be operating in ten cities in Mexico by the end of the year. Along the way we realized that it was more rational to concentrate on the cities with the largest populations, which are Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, which is where we currently operate, with no plans to continue expanding in the short term. Our plan in 2023 will be to continue consolidating the markets where we operate, with a focus on the largest markets: Santiago, Bogotá and Mexico City, which together add up to more than 40 million of people,” says Labra.
At the end of 2021, the proptech raised a series A of US$35 million, led by Goodwater Capital and Fifth Wall, something that, according to the founders, would be more difficult to achieve today. Regarding the growth of his firm, Labra highlights that “the concept of growth at all cost”and today we are looking for a more sustainable growth and operation with clear guidelines to be profitable, which is where we are headed today, keeping the focus on improving our service and platform every day”.
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