After co-founding Landbay, a fast-growing marketplace lender that provides mortgage finance to the UK’s private rented sector, he was looking to build something to streamline the property investment experience even more.
This would create an investment property acquisition process that would be better than anything on the market. Investors are busy, and the process, time, effort, and friction involved in good-quality real estate investments can be prohibitive, especially when they deal with multiple individual service providers. The same applies to residents who also face the additional challenge of the poor reputation for value in the UK rental market.
Gray’s solution was to create a platform that offers instant mortgage financing–a “PayPal for mortgages”-- which can be applied to good-quality properties that rent well and generate good returns. Investors would benefit from a low-touch and cost-effective process, and lenders who fund mortgages would have a platform that allows the mortgage product to be deliverable at the point of sale. Additionally, because the customer is always first, residents would be able to move into a rental property fitted with high-end services and amenities and genuinely love where they live.
Gray founded Dot Residential in 2018 and approached OAK’S LAB to build his end-to-end property investment solution from scratch.
In order to build Gray’s end-to-end, seamless property investment platform, we needed to focus on building out the flow of a property investor buying the property as well as the flow of a lender funding the loan to the property investor. The idea was that property investors would be able to purchase properties with the click of a button and submission of a deposit. In order to do this, we needed to focus on both the investors’ and lenders’ portals so that when an investor submitted a deposit, the lender would fund the rest in a loan.
We also needed to provide Dot with a way to manage the entire process of refurbishing properties, listing them for sale, selling them to property investors, and administering the loan origination process. Additionally, we needed a website to show how Dot works and to encourage property investors to sign up and invest in properties. And finally, we needed everything to work together in a seamless and efficient manner.
To kick off the project, Gray flew out to Prague to meet with the OAK’S LAB team and share his vision with us. We had multiple working sessions to align on his short-term goals, which were to build the four main product components: a Property Investor Portal, Lender Portal, Admin Portal, and Marketing Website. With these components, Gray wanted to demonstrate that his hypothesis could work with the sale of 5 properties. In order to build all the product components before the 5 properties were refurbished, we had a hard deadline to make the platform live.
Prior to building the marketplace, Dot Residential leaned on us to create a loan application platform designed to bridge loan originators, investors, borrowers, and brokers in a sleek and cohesive way. This institutional infrastructure for funding mortgages and selling pools of mortgages to investors was a priority because we needed to be able to provide instant mortgages for investors.
Next, we prioritized the investor experience. We designed a marketing website that organized big data in a way that is easy to read for first-time investors, as well as experienced investors. With user testing, we discovered that the combination of vibrant yellows placed around key decision points, negative spaces, and line icons proved to work best. We also focused here on creating an eCommerce checkout solution that would allow investors to invest simply and quickly.
As for our tech approach, we worked closely with Dot’s in-house team, both onsite and offsite, to streamline the capabilities to transact almost instantly and generate immediate returns in the fast-growing real estate markets. As mentioned, our goal was to create a property purchasing experience that was as quick and seamless as possible without sacrificing security, so we combined the latest leading-edge web technologies to support the robust end-to-end process and selected Node.js, NextJS, GraphQL, and integrated microservices as the tech stack.
With the four main product components completed, we were able to connect them together in order to digitize the entire process and fulfill Gray’s vision. With the Dot Residential platform, properties were refurbished and listed on the marketplace, and lenders funded loans that allowed property investors to instantly purchase a property that yielded them monthly profits while paying down the loan. After we successfully hit our deadline with the initial product build, we parted ways with Dot Residential in 2020 so that they could continue to grow the business on their own with their in-house team.
With the platform we built for Gray to test his hypothesis, Dot managed to sell the original 5 properties during our time on the project. With Dot Residential, property investors saved an average of 5.3% below market valuation on their property investments and gained an average of 9% average gross yield. Over £1M has been transacted on the platform, and the startup has raised $3M to date.
Dot Residential continues to open up doors to a new lifestyle, starting with the click of a button. And to this day the global housing brand is focused on delivering beautifully designed homes that people love to live in.
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