We are solving housing problems in Ireland
Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when the vacant homes in Mayo are listed online, as well as when we launch our New Builds platform, enabling new homes to be built all around the country.
By sharing your financial capacity to purchase a home with Homebuyer’s Hero, you are effectively causing your own home to come into existence… Neat, eh?!
This works for vacant homes and new builds and we’re very excited about it. Our New Build homes are exclusively for home buyers.
For our vacant homes pilot there is a weighting for those who would live in the homes themselves, which doesn’t impact on the valuation process or limit open market demand in any way. Also neat!
Who are we? 🧐
Founded by Colm Casey and Dr Constantin Gurdgiev, Homebuyer’s Hero is designed to make homes cheaper and much more plentiful by using buyer demand data to derisk things like construction in the case of new homes and to facilitate property transactions in the case of our vacant homes pilot with Mayo County Council.
Colm is a former estate agent with experience in design, planning and tech.
Constantin is a macro economist with particular expertise in the Irish property market, as well as internationally.
We both like to tweet a lot so don’t be shy!!
Our Mission 💪
In general, our mission is to free up the blockages and informational asymmetry in the property market which contribute greatly to the boom / bust cycle, with all the negative societal damage known all to well to us here in Ireland.
Through our derisking processes for both vacants and new build homes as we start, as well as later technologies we will bring online as we grow and develop, our intent is to create a property market which is balanced in terms of supply and demand and systemically pushes down house prices while making it very viable for home builders to do their thing.
So, what now? 🤷♂️
Homebuyer’s Hero has prepared solutions for housing which are very novel.
One solution tackles vacant housing. It is a testament to the desire of all involved stakeholders to address housing issues in Ireland that we have been able to come together, public bodies and a private business, around one variant of our offering, in order to address the issue of vacant homes in Mayo and hopefully, later, all around the country. Local Authorities such as Mayo County Council have the capacity to ‘CPO’ (Compulsory Purchase Order) properties if necessary and the government’s Housing For All plan specifically sets a target of 2,500 such transactions.
But it is not without risk for the Local Authority. The pilot uses the experience, reach and expertise of the Local Authority as well as our new, buyer-friendly processes and platform, to work together to free up homes. The CPO is just a tool in the box. The Homebuyer’s Hero innovations and the work of the Local Authority in identifying homes and their interventions in the process, will see both sides of the property transaction act willingly to get transactions done.
Mayo County Council has committed to having the first batch of vacant homes ready for listing online before January 16th, 2023.
Another of our solutions is for New Build homes, which will also be on this platform for our users.
The New Builds part of our platform will be live by January 12th 2023, with two areas of the country available for selection by users, to declare their interest in purchasing a new build home. We have expressions of interest from home builders, eager to engage in our risk management processes to build at scale, with buyers having input at the very earliest stages of residential development.
Before that, we at Homebuyer’s Hero will be allowing limited numbers of users to onboard in a so-called “beta test”, with newsletter subscribers being notified first of when that will be possible.
Funding ... 💶😔
It is important our users understand how Homebuyer’s Hero is funded.
Homebuyer’s Hero is effectively ‘bootstrapped’ – that is, we are a private business which is financed through a very limited ‘friends and family’ investment round. No state supports for businesses such as Enterprise Ireland or Local Enterprise Offices have been able to help us out yet.
It’s tempting to think that they should, given that we are addressing issues around housing and have a sound business model, but to be fair, they can’t help, because they simply do not have a remit for housing or social impact which might override their usual engagement protocols. They need to see results on the business side. Enterprise Ireland’s HPSU needs us to do our thing first, multiple times, then ask for investment. This is fine, but the lag between starting and revenue is definitely a difficult gap for us to close, in order to meet their requirements. We intend to do it of course, but it means that we are much slower and more limited in our positive impacts on housing.
Enterprise Ireland has special supports under the government’s Housing For All plan, for businesses aiming to increase housing numbers. They don’t require them to be at export stage, but, they require a minimum of 10 employees and they tell us that we may be outside their remit on that funding anyway. We can’t access this funding, even though we are a novel innovation aiming at increasing housing availability.
The Local Enterprise Offices we can access geographically require us to be at export / be undertaking export related activities before they would consider helping. This is a bit different to how other LEO’s administer feasibility and priming grants, which is unfortunate.
We are unfortunately not within scope for the NDRC’s fantastic accelerator yet, either. This is again a function of the time-lag specific to housing which is delaying our commercial validation as well as their very limited funding only allowing 12-14 companies through their programme each year. They are funded by the Department of the Environment and this should be significantly increased to allow for accelerator cohorts to be targeted and more frequent than twice anually.
We cannot access supports or grant funding for social enterprises, as the Department of Rural and Community Development Guidelines on Social Enterprise is very narrow compared to the EU and OECD definitions and our later stage impacts, which will greatly help homebuyers here and abroad, require us to potentially have to raise significant amounts of Venture Capital and operate in ways which are simply incompatible with the current definition of Social Enterprise here in Ireland.
Therefore, in light of all of the above and having turned over every state-backed stone, we have called on the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien to establish a ‘proptech fund’ – i.e., a state backed fund specifically structured to be able to help businesses like ours (property market technology) where existing state business supports simply can’t help. Fingers crossed – we believe helping innovative businesses like Homebuyer’s Hero, especially those with traction and engaged in novel pilots like ours with Mayo County Council, would be an excellent use of taxpayers’ money during this time of extreme difficulties in housing. Many businesses receive state support when starting – it really should apply, too, to businesses with solutions for our country’s housing difficulties.
We are of course engaged with a number of potential private investors and will possibly open up Homebuyer’s Hero to a crowdfund – giving the general public an opportunity to help push us forward while having a stake in the business, too. If this is something which might interest you, drop us a message in the chatbox – the yellow icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
However, some existing state business supports may be able to help us as we have successes in the coming months. Until then, know that our priorities are, in order: a) security of user data, b) making our processes work and lastly, c) making sure we can give as good a user experience as possible.
Lastly, for now ... #️⃣🏘️🆙
Given the scarcity of resources, we would ask for your patience before launch in January as well as when we are active. But don’t worry, our processes around vacant and new homes are all very buyer friendly and nobody with an interest in a home will miss out on taking part in our new processes, even if we have to take things slowly at first.
All support would be much appreciated. Follow us on our social media pages below. We will be pushing content out on all those platforms regularly, starting before Christmas. Twitter is where you can most easily engage directly with Colm and Constantin, the founders of Homebuyer’s Hero.
Lastly, we would like to thank Tom Gilligan in Mayo County Council and Barry O’Leary at the Housing Finance Agency for coming together with us on the vacant homes pilot aspect of Homebuyer’s Hero. It’s not easy to ‘be different’ given the constraints of public service, but we really appreciate their willingness to try new things in the effort to fix housing in Ireland, as well as the HFA’s financial contribution to Mayo County Council for the pilot.