InspectHOA, a US-based proptech startup with a Bulgarian co-founder, raised a $3.1M seed round for the growth of its solution to streamline real estate transactions and simplify access to information about homeowners associations (HOA). The round is led by the American investment firm SVQUAD, with the participation of the US-India early-stage VC Inventus Capital Partners.
The round is also joined by angel investors such as Dheeraj Pandey, CEO of DevRev, and three Bulgarian angels. They are Elvin Guri, Managing Partner and CEO of Empower Capital, Hristo Manov, Chairman of the Board of Teach For Bulgaria, and Plamen Monovski, Director at Ledger Capital.
Founded in 2020 by Vishrut Malhotra (CEO), Anton Tonev (CRO (Chief Revenue Officer), and Atin Hindocha (COO), InspectHOA started off with the mission to bring efficiency, technology, and transparency to anyone who is dealing with HOAs. The investment comes following a 10x revenue growth in 2021 and will be used for product development and team expansion as the company expects to increase its revenue eight times in 2022.
To find out more about the home inspection vertical and the place of InspectHOA in this space, The Recursive talked to Anton Tonev, co-founder of the company and AUBG graduate with a background in Finance.
Market opportunity in the home inspection industry
The HOA space in the US is significantly large as there are over 350K such organizations and over a third of the American population lives in areas that are managed by HOAs. In addition, the high costs associated with building management pile up to a total of $100B annual fees collected from homeowners. Considering also that 73% of the new construction for sale in the US is in an HOA, the market opportunity in the US market becomes quite clear.
But what exactly do HOAs do? First, they are responsible for managing the common areas and the shared infrastructure such as swimming pools and gyms. They also have a legal mandate and enforce rules and regulations in their respective neighborhoods and real estate communities. And the key reason why HOAs exist is that they are supposed to increase the property value.
The role of InspectHOA
InspectHOA works with title companies, lenders, and investors who buy hundreds of homes every month to help them not only with the transactions but also with gathering information and reviewing the HOA with the goal to validate that the real estate investment will be a profitable one for the client.
InspectHOA conducts financial health and operational health reviews on HOAs to check whether these organizations have sufficient reserves, no history of fraud, no open litigations, and how their fees compare to other HOAs.
“To our knowledge, our database which contains information on 70K HOAs, is the largest such database. Every month we participate in thousands of transactions. This traction is a testimonial that we are really solving a pain point in the industry. The difficulty of obtaining information about HOAs is the most inefficient part of the real estate closing process. Real estate transactions are routinely thrown off-track or delayed because of missing, late, or wrong HOA information,” Anton highlights.
How a Bulgarian gets into a US-specific market
In 2014, Anton Tonev started working in the quantitative asset management company AQR Capital Management, where he met with his co-founder and current CEO of InspectHOA, Vishrut Malhotra. A couple of years later in 2020, they started working on the new endeavor.
“The first time I heard of an HOA was when I was purchasing a home in the States and found out that I have to pay around $350 every month to the association. Having a professional and academic background in Finance, I managed to do due diligence on my HOA, and this led to a happy mutual relationship later on. Not all homeowners, however, have the time or the skills to inspect whether everything is fine with their HOAs and are therefore not happy with how their money is being managed. And this is quite normal considering that HOA fees are the second biggest expense for homeowners after the purchase of the real estate itself,” Tonev explains.
That is how they came up with the idea of starting a business that deals with the inspection of HOAs. Initially, they launched with a B2C model but later pivoted to a B2B model to optimize their revenue flow and participate in more transactions.
The growth path of InspectHOA
InspectHOA employs over a hundred people in total who are spread across the US, India, and Bulgaria. The Bulgarian team is planned to grow into the R&D team of the company. It currently employs around 10 people. Having a well-established local network, Tonev has succeeded in building local engineering, product management, and customer success teams consisting of alumni of AUBG. The growth of the Sales and Marketing teams will remain focused in the US.
Even though the home inspection market is very specific for the US, there are similar associations in Canada, Australia, and India and the solution of IspectHOA is applicable outside of the US. Antov shares that InspectHOA would most likely not expand to these markets in 3-5 years since the company still has not exhausted the vast US market.
“We are looking at our current market as our beachhead market ( small market with specific characteristics), so we will focus on expanding around the target niche which we have already gained as clients,” Tonev explains.
In addition, InspectHOA plans to develop into an end-to-end platform that is fully tech-enabled and all interactions between stakeholders happen digitally. Right now, the connection that InspectHOA has with its end clients is fully digital, but often the interaction with the HOAs happens offline. They are currently working on the development of their second product that would fill in the gap and allow them to optimize and standardize the whole workflow.