Kohab recalibrates business amid tightened property market

  • By Christine St Anne

Startup business Kohab has reshaped its business from a co-ownership platform to a social property platform amid a tightening and challenging property market.

Announced in March, Kohab’s digital platform provided a marketplace for friends, family and like-minded buyers to buy a property together, connecting property, real estate agents, legal, mortgage and insurance providers in one place.

The marketplace included a co-lending product from National Australia Bank. Mortgage insurance was also provided on the platform.

At the time of the announcement, Former New South Wales Premier Mike Baird and now head of retail at NAB described the platform as a “Tinder for real estate”.

Kohab CEO and co-founder David Dawson said that tighter scrutiny by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority on lending and greater scrutiny following the outcome from the banking royal commission has resulted in a tougher outlook for the property market.

“Launched at the peak of housing prices we saw a gap in the market to address housing affordability by introducing co-ownership,” Dawson said.

“With softening housing prices, additional attention by APRA on the mortgage market and banks struggling to deal with the royal commission, we realised a better way to help people own their home together and appeal to a bigger segment of the market was to focus on one of the tools we created at the beginning – a social community platform.”

Mortgage innovation

Rather than focusing on the financing function of housing affordability, the new revamped business will adopt a search model based on a “collaborative social property platform. The online platform and app will allow users to discover, chat and decide on properties with their co-buyers as well as agents and advisers.  

Dawson would still like to include co-lending products like NAB on the platform but acknowledged that greater scrutiny on the sector has impacted mortgage innovation.

“There is now a 40 per cent added cost to getting a loan. There is no incentive for banks to innovate and offer these types of products.”

Revenue for the platform will be sourced from subscriptions – taken up by groups such as real estate agents and buyer agents as well broker referrals and banner advertising.

Dawson said the platform is distinguished from the propriety sites such as Domain and Realestate.com, which are essentially “classified portals”.

“This new offering will also be revolutionary for real estate agents, buyer’s agents, property agents and influencers, by offering an entirely new ecosystem of curated public boards.

“Businesses will be able to reach new audiences and engage with existing clients by creating these public boards that buyers can follow to stay up to date with property developments,” he said.