Finance Property Need help buying a home? This startup says it can help find you a co-investor

Need help buying a home? This startup says it can help find you a co-investor

property co-investing Proppie
A new platform seeks to get millennials into the property market. Photo: Proppie
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An online mortgage-sharing platform is hoping to give millennials a leg up into the property market amid record-high house prices.

Startup Proppie helps family members and friends buy property together but also acts as a matchmaking service for people open to investing with strangers.

Property experts said the platform is based on a good idea, but warned that co-investing in properties comes with risks.

Proppie founder Ayumi Uyeda said the platform provides an “entirely digital journey” for a co-ownership arrangement, from partnering investors to post-settlement.

“Some people might want to go in with friends and siblings, and others might need help meeting people who have [complementary property] criteria,” Ms Uyeda said.

Launched in July, Proppie’s main client base is millennials.

Ms Uyeda said the company is specifically targeting this group because millennials are suffering the most from Australia’s affordable housing crisis.

She said millennials who are still renting when they retire will struggle due to the structure of Australia’s pension system.

“Our entire superannuation scheme is based upon an assumption of complete outright home ownership,” she said.

“The property market just gets further and further out of reach every day.”

Ms Uyeda said Proppie has been in talks with a wide range of lenders, from the big names to the smaller players, and so far none have raised interest rates for this alternative form of property investing.

Proppie users work with a mortgage adviser to find a plan tailored to their needs, and each party in a partnership has their own separate loan.

Canstar chief spokesperson Steve Mickenbecker said co-investing could be a good “stepping stone” into the property market, but traditionally it could be hard to walk away from.

“Aspirations and life stages of the parties of the property can actually differ,” he said.

“It might suit one to sell and move on when it doesn’t suit the other party to sell and move on.”

Ms Uyeda said co-investors can sell their shares in a property at any time through Proppie.

They first offer it to their partners before putting it up for sale on the platform.

Ms Uyeda said Proppie uses a legally protected co-ownership agreement to minimise the risk of disagreements between co-investors who may have had few direct conversations.

“We want parties to be able to communicate with each other, and be open and transparent as much as possible,” Ms Uyeda said.

“[We] facilitate all of the communication so that it’s frictionless.”

Forget Tinder. Proppie wants to find your perfect investing match. Photo: Proppie

University of Adelaide property lecturer Peter Koulizos said on the face of it, co-ownership could seem like an “excellent idea”.

“Fifty per cent of something is better than 100 per cent of nothing,” he said.

But he said there are always risks with new ventures, and buyers should do their due diligence.

He said it was important to clarify the legal setup of the ownership of a property, whether it be tenants in common or joint tenancy.

People looking to use their investment in a property as equity for further investments also need to figure out if it is possible to do so without selling shares, Mr Koulizos said.

Ms Uyeda clarified that Proppie users buy properties under a tenants in common arrangement, and can use their shares as equity to buy other properties depending on lenders’ assessments.

Mr Mickenbecker said trust between investment partners is important.

He said people shouldn’t just rely on a legal agreement and potential legal action when forming a partnership.

“I think there is an extra element of risk in [investing in a property] with a total stranger,” Mr Mickenbecker said.

“You know how [a sibling or life partner] operate, how they react and that you can rely upon them.”

But he said even when entering into investment partnerships with loved ones, legal agreements are still important.

“You need a legal document with the family members, [because] situations change and memories can change,” Mr Mickenbecker said.

Mr Koulizos said when investing in a property with one or more partners, the agreement should always be in writing and investors should always “check the fine print”.