CO-LIVING platform Hmlet is expanding its territory in the South-east Asian residential real estate sector.
Chief executive and co-founder Yoan Kamalski told The Business Times that the Singapore-based startup has clinched management contracts from developers in Malaysia and Thailand to gain ground, while widening its product offerings to include services such as property management, interior design and furniture subscription.
Hmlet has now on-boarded more than 1,000 apartments up on its platform in Malaysia, and over 2,500 in Thailand, said Mr Kamalski, adding that developers were keen to engage Hmlet's platform to provide potential homeowners an all-digital way to view apartments, as well as to outsource management for certain units.
The operator also manages over 1,000 listings in Singapore, and is "on track to manage over 5,000 rooms by end of the year".
"With Covid-19, many big developers were coming to Hmlet with a good amount of quality stock on hand, to explore partnerships and business opportunities… It is now up to us to help developers get both expatriates and locals into these buildings," said Mr Kamalski.
More locals are warming up to the idea of co-living, he added. Before the global pandemic, up to 90 per cent of its member mix was dominated by expats.
Currently, locals living in its apartments in Singapore has risen to about a quarter, even as occupancy rate remains relatively constant, the CEO said.
Other communities in Tokyo and Hong Kong register an even higher mix of locals, with 45 per cent and 30 per cent respectively, he added.
"We hope to fill the gap in the market by offering more medium- to long-term housing for people, to better match the evolving needs of younger generations," said Mr Kamalski.
He said that locals are more sensitive to factors such as price and location, so the operator tweaked its product offering to allow for decoupling of services such as laundry, weekly cleaning and other amenities.
It has also widened its product offering, in hopes of gaining a greater market share of the residential real estate market.
Landlords are now able to directly list their properties on Hmlet without the need of a property agent, and can choose from tiered interior design packages to renovate their homes. Additionally, they can also rent, swap or buy furniture through its subscription service. The platform had been in beta since June this year.
The new offerings are part of its pivot to an asset-light model, to move towards more management contracts and profit-sharing contracts instead of renting, renovating and operating properties, in order to improve profitability, said its CEO.
Mr Kamalski told BT that Hmlet has been "sustainable" in markets like Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo, as measured by a "healthy" amount of growth and a high occupancy rate - 80 to 90 per cent.
It is also expanding its team for the new property listing marketplace Hmlet Listed, to include senior vice-president Michael Hogg and general manager Anthony McDonald. Just a few months ago, the firm brought on Rajive Keshup as its chief financial officer, as well as chief technology officer Pramodh Rai.
The company in July last year raised US$40 million in its Series B funding round, bringing its post-money valuation to around US$154.4 million, venture investment database VentureCap Insights reported.
Mr Kamalski said: "Given the current market situation, expanding into multiple lifestyle solutions and services including property listings, furniture rental and apartment-design services are a natural progression that not only bridge a gap in the rental marketing services landscape, but also elevate our promise of hassle-free living."