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Roofstock puts rentals on the blockchain

Mar 10, 2022
Illustration of an abstract glowing three dimensional house made from binary code.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Rental investing platform Roofstock said it raised a $240 million Series E financing round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, bringing its valuation to just under $2 billion.

Why it matters: The funding comes as Roofstock explores new ways to offer fractional ownership of rental properties to its users, which could include tokenizing and putting properties it owns on the blockchain.

Of note: "A lot of people like the idea of owning rental homes more than the reality of managing them," Roofstock CEO Gary Beasley tells Axios.

  • "As an investor, you could search on an MLS, go through traditional loans, hire five property managers, and all of that," Beasley says.
  • Alternatively, with the blockchain, Beasley argues you could just "buy five tokens in different properties, and buy them immediately."

Context: After starting out as a marketplace to help potential landlords find single-family homes to invest in, over the years Roofstock has gone more and more full-stack in its approach.

  • Over time the company has added tools to help users manage their assets, including financing, insurance, and property management.
  • It's also launched a product called Roofstock One, which lets users generate passive income through fractional ownership of bundles of single-family homes that it owns and manages.

Roofstock is now exploring how the blockchain could be used to tokenize ownership of rentals, which it believes could create more liquidity and make the process of investing faster and more transparent.

  • Because everything on the blockchain is immutable, all information associated with a particular property — like past ownership, renovations, and the like — would be viewable forever.
  • And it would alleviate a lot of the headaches associated with buying, financing, and ultimately managing the rental assets.

The latest: Roofstock was recently accepted into the Cypher Accelerator program at Wharton, where it is working on the tokenization initiative.

  • The company is still evaluating which chain or protocol it will run on, but Beasley expects a minimum viable version of the product to be done by the end of April, which is when the Accelerator program ends.
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