real estate tech

Housing startup founded by former Zillow execs expands in Texas

A new digital platform for home purchases and mortgages has expanded in the Lone Star Stat. Photo via Getty Images

Tomo Networks, a fintech startup that operates a digital platform for home purchases and mortgages, has expanded its offerings statewide after launching in the summer of 2021 in Houston and Dallas.

Founded in October 2020 by former Zillow Group executives Greg Schwartz and Carey Armstrong, Tomo launched over the summer with a $70 million seed funding round led by Ribbit Capital. DST Global, NFX, SVB Capital, and Zigg Capital participated in the seed round.

“Tomo’s cutting-edge platform is unlike anything else available to homebuyers,” Nick Huber, a partner at Ribbit Capital, says in a news release. “The real estate market has not been skewed toward the buyer in quite some time, and we saw a huge opportunity to get behind a company that will do just that.”

A recent analysis of the Houston home market by Skylar Olsen, principal economist at Tomo, shows Bayou City remains among the most affordable U.S. markets and continues to provide homeownership opportunities.

According to the Tomo analysis, the gap in Houston between millennials’ share of the population and their share of total housing value has improved, shrinking from 9.7 percentage points to 9 percentage points in 20 years. “Millennials make up the largest generation of Houston’s total population,” the analysis says.

In November, the median price of a home in the Houston area rose 16.3 percent to tie the record high of $314,000 set in June, the Houston Association of Realtors says.

Tomo, based in Stamford, Connecticut, bills itself as “the first platform in the real estate space that is specifically focused on the buyer experience.” The company believes its digitally oriented approach holds strong appeal for millennials and other young homebuyers.

Tomo guarantees an on-time closing and a price match, meaning that if you find a better deal, the company will match it. Tomo says it cuts the time for mortgage preapproval by as much as 55 percent.

The company initially launched in Houston and Dallas as well as Seattle. Aside from its headquarters in Connecticut, Tomo maintains offices in Austin and Seattle. In Dallas, the startup recently rolled its first-ever ad campaign.

“In today’s housing market, buying is not an enjoyable experience; it has become competitive, stressful, and confusing, and too many people are coming away from it empty-handed. As single-family homes become commoditized by investors, the American dream is moving further and further out of reach. We are going to change that,” says Schwartz, CEO of Tomo.

Trending News

Building Houston

 
 

Houston innovators podcast episode 140

What Houston can expect from its rising innovation district

Sam Dike of Rice Management Company joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss the past, present, and future of Houston's rising Ion Innovation District. Photo via rice.edu

Last month, the Ion Houston welcomed in the greater Houston community to showcase the programs and companies operating within the Ion Innovation District — and the week-long Ion Activation Festival spotlighted just the beginning.

The rising district — anchored by the Ion — is a 16-acre project in Midtown Houston owned and operated by Rice Management Company, an organization focused on managing Rice University's $8.1 billion endowment.

"We're chiefly responsible for stewarding the university's endowment and generating returns to support the academic mission of the university," says Samuel Dike, manager of strategic initiatives at RMC, on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Part of those returns go to support student scholarships and student success — as well as many of the other academic programs."

"The university sees a dual purpose behind the investing," Dike continues, in addition to focusing on generating returns, RMC's mission is "also to be a valuable partner in Houston's ecosystem and pushing Houston as a global 21st century city."

RMC saw an opportunity a few years back to make an investment in Houston's nascent innovation and tech ecosystem, and announced the plans for the Ion, a 266,000-square-foot innovation hub in an renovated and rehabilitated Sears.

"In some ways innovation is not necessarily about creating something completely new — it's oftentimes building upon something that exists and making it better," Dike says. "I think that's what we've done with the building itself.

"We took something that had really strong bones and a strong identity here in Houston," he continues, "and we did something that's often atypical in Houston and preserved and repurposed it — not an easy logistical or financial decision to make, but we believed it was the best for Houston and for the project."

Now, the Ion District includes the Ion as the anchor, as well as Greentown Houston, which moved into a 40,000-square-foot space in the former Fiesta Mart building, just down the street. While RMC has announced a few other initiatives, the next construction project to be delivered is a 1,500-space parking garage that will serve the district.

"It is not your typical parking garage," Dike says. "The garage will feature a vegetated facade with ground-floor retail and gallery space, as well as EV charging spaces and spaces to feature display spaces for future tech. It's going to be a nice addition to the district."

The new garage will free up surface parking lots that then will be freed up for future construction projects, Dike explains.

He shares more about the past, present, and future of the Ion and the district as a whole on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.



Trending News