SoftBank-Backed Habi Plans Mexico Growth With IDB Invest Funding

(Bloomberg) — Habi, a real estate startup backed by SoftBank Group Corp., received $50 million in financing from IDB Invest to expand its online listings of homes in Mexico for low income and middle-class families. 

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Brynne McNulty Rojas, Habi’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said the investment is the largest to date the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank group has made in a property technology firm.

“This proves that we are holding ourselves to the most sophisticated global standards,” she said in an interview. “We are solving a real problem in our countries.” 

Habi’s planned Mexico expansion adds to the competition in what has become the main battleground in Latin America among so-called proptech startups, with some 77 companies operating in the country, according to an IDB report last year. Proptechs say they bring greater transparency, speed and liquidity to residential real estate transactions. 

Selling a home in Latin America can often take longer than a year, McNulty Rojas said, adding that Habi can carry out transactions in 10 days. 

Founded in Colombia in late 2019, the company has been expanding for nearly two years in Mexico. In total, more the 30,000 families have used Habi’s online platform to make transactions, list properties or get help securing a mortgage, the company said, declining to provide details on total sales. Around 700,000 people have used the company’s artificial intelligence to check the price range of their home.

As part of the agreement, Habi agreed to goals for social and environmental impact, which will be audited by IDB Invest.

Read More: SoftBank-Backed Habi Buys Mexican Real Estate Tech Startup

After raising more than $200 million in a series C round last May that was led by SoftBank and Homebrew, Habi announced it reached unicorn status — the term for startups worth $1 billion or more. Since then, it has secured close to $260 million in debt amid a sharp decline in funding from venture capital firms around the world. It has not disclosed its exact valuation. 

Venture investments in Latin American startups fell to $800 million in the first quarter, a drop of more than 70% from the same period last year, according to preliminary data from the Association for Private Capital Investment in Latin America, or LAVCA.

Marcos Kantt, Habi’s chief financial officer, said the company recorded triple-digit growth in Colombia last year even as the market for low-income home sales tanked due to high interest rates. 

“We have become the market maker for the residential ecosystem in both Colombia and Mexico,” he said. “Our services are needed more than ever.”

(Updates with types of transactions in paragraph six)

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