Startup offers $1 way into B.C. real estate

Vancouver-based company aims to give people cheaper ways to invest in the market

As real estate prices continue to skyrocket across the Lower Mainland, a Vancouver-based startup is trying to redefine the way people look at homeownership.

IMBY – which stands for In My Backyard – started up last December, after its founders became increasingly frustrated with buying into the region’s real estate market.

It was hearing about a past employee’s struggle that made CEO Mike Stephenson think up a different approach.

The employee wanted to invest in a development, but the minimum buy-in, $50,000, was much too pricey. “Distrust and frustrations are running really high,” he said.

He eventually developed IMBY, a company that allows people to invest as much, or as little, as they want in real estate in exchange for shares of a property. Then, they reap the returns.

“Real estate has been proven to be the best asset class to invest in, but so many people are locked out,” said Stephenson. “And of the people who are in… they’re so stressed out because they’re not in a prudent amount. They’re beyond all in.”

READ MORE: Two-thirds of renters want to see a housing crash in Metro Vancouver: poll

IMBY allows its users to buy in starting at $1.

“Our median is $2,000, but the majority of people are testing the waters with $100 to $500,” said Stephenson. “Where we’re getting most of our requests is the underserved millennial group.”

Millennials want IMBY to take $100 or $200 from their bank account and help them invest it in real estate, Stephenson said.

READ MORE: Average millennial could wait 150+ years to buy home in one B.C. city: report

He calls it a low-risk way to become a landlord.

“If there is a month where a mortgage payment needs to be made and there’s no funds… let’s say it’s $1,000. We would just put on the platform an additional 1,000 shares as $1 per share,” said Stephenson.

“When a tenant doesn’t pay, that’s a very stressful month. But when you’re sharing this property with 100, 200, 300 other owners and your portion is $1, there’s no stress.”

READ MORE: Housing tops worry list for more than half in Metro Vancouver: poll

The company has more than 1,000 users on the platform so far, and while many of those are in Metro Vancouver’s saturated market, buyers are out as far as Vernon and Victoria.

With stricter mortgage rules in place this year, Stephenson said some users are coming to IMBY as a creative way to afford a home when the bank won’t help.

He pointed to the case of a single mom with a $1-million profit from selling her Richmond townhouse.

“She wants to live on the east side of Vancouver. She’s found a house that’s $1.5-million,” Stephenson said. “But the bank will not finance the remaining $500,000.”

She turns to IMBY, puts in her $1 million, and shareholders put in the other $500,000, he said.

“She’s then going to move into this house and pay $3,000 a month in rent,” said Stephenson. “Since she owns two-thirds of this house, she gets $2,000 back a month.”

When the house is someday rezoned or renovated both she and the shareholders benefit from the hike in value.

Though Stephenson said he’s buoyed by the success stories so far, he doesn’t think his company will solve the housing crisis.

“We feel like this is a way to make it fairer,” he said. “It’s a stab at it.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

RCMP believe Missing Hope teenager was headed to Chilliwack

Keely Reeze Loewen, 18, last in contact with a family member on June 13

Chilliwack trustees divided on Trans Mountain pipeline route near two schools

School district will pen letter to NEB to ask for re-routing away from schools to be considered

After 30 years, Agassiz’s Miss Marge set to retire from Variety Play

From 1989 to today, Miss Marge has taken generations of kids through the district play program

Crime Stoppers urges Lower Mainland residents to check these 9 safety items every night

Home security tips demonstrated at Cloverdale house on Wednesday

Hope raises almost $700 for Tillicum Centre

By purchasing art on display locally, community raised $690 for the adult centre

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

Victoria double murder trial: Blood splatter analyst found no shoe prints on scene

RCMP analyst testifies to smears, fingermarks, ‘swipe and wipe’ patterns around apartment

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Channel your inner pirate in epic Canada-wide treasure hunt

200 treasure chests hidden among trails and waterways, lots of prizes to be claimed

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

Most Read