Our guest on Episode 8 is Phillip An, co-founder, and chief operating officer of Homebase, a Vietnam-based prop-tech startup providing personalized co-investment plans and novel home-financing technology to tackle the homeownership crisis in Southeast Asia, especially among millennials. In other words, Homebase is financing home buyers so they can buy or invest in property in a personalized way using technology.
His experience working in tech in Silicon Valley and Singapore (where he met Homebase's co-founder JunYuan Tan), gave Phillip the confidence to enter SouthEast Asia’s uber-competitive start-up ecosystem.
After speaking to consumers across SEA, Phillip realized the huge optimism for Vietnam's future growth. Besides, JY had already been running companies here and was familiar with other players in the market, so it was a natural move for the duo to base their start-up in Vietnam.
According to Phillip, the question of how companies can help millennials get on the property ladder has been circulating for quite some time. Investing in a home, a milestone, and a rite of passage is one of the most important purchasing decisions you'll make in your life.
For a lot of younger folks who don't have high-paying jobs just yet, getting their foot in the door is extremely difficult. The booming economy manifests itself, among other things, in surging real estate prices. So the challenge here is that while these millennials are building their wealth and padding their savings accounts, constantly growing prices keep home-ownership forever out of reach.
Another aspect of the home-ownership conundrum in SEA is immature financial instruments. Being a developing country, Vietnam keeps adjusting its monetary policy. This lack of certainty means that when potential home buyers ask for a bank loan, they are faced with high-interest rates, down payments they can’t afford, and inflexible payment terms.
What's the plan?
Challenges notwithstanding, Homebase is determined to give millennial home buyers a leg up by offering guidance and financing that is more flexible than what banks are offering: 90% for those who qualify vs the banks’ 70%. And their plans are designed to be as inclusive as possible, taking into consideration the applicants’ monthly cash flow and current savings. With every transaction, Homebase is putting their trust in their consumers; betting on them and the property itself. “We win when you win,” says Phillip.
The appetite for home-ownership seems insatiable, especially because of the growing middle class. In the coming future, Homebase is looking to launch new products for their prospective homebuyers and sellers by innovating user experience and credit scoring and is considering regional expansion as well.
To hear more about Homebase's role in Vietnam’s digital transformation, subscribe to our YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcast pages.