Jay-Z, Will Smith bet on Landis in $165m debt equity round to make homeownership accessible to all

Investment funds connected with Jay-Z and Will Smith poured in cash towards homeownership technology company Landis in a $165 Series A private equity raise.

The round was led by Sequoia Capital with existing investor Signia Venture Partners. Landis said investors include some FinTech founders, such as those of Plaid, Cash App and Ethos. The founders of Instacart, Front, Flatiron Health and Tango joined the funding round as well.

The company, which has raised $182m since launch, intends to use the funds to continue to expand operations and its business reach.

Founded by Cyril Berdugo and Tom Petit, Landis is a social impact-driven company with a mission to guide renters on their path to purchasing a home. The company’s technology helps users save money and build an enhanced financial foundation through homeownership. The company also helps real estate agents nationwide as the agents who refer clients to Landis represent Landis when the company buys a home for the client.

In addition to the funding announcement, Landis opened up access to its Landis Homeownership Coach mobile app for free to everyone with an iPhone. The app provides its users with a dashboard view of credit, down payment savings and debt, alongside the specific goals they need to reach to get a mortgage. The app also suggests actions that users can take to advance on their journey towards homeownership.

Landis’ typical client is a prospective homeowner who is unable to get a mortgage due to credit, down payment savings or debt. Although they may not be mortgage-ready yet, Landis’ dynamic underwriting technology can determine whether the client might qualify for a mortgage in the next 12 to 24 months. If they can, Landis will rent the customer the property and provide a coach to help the client secure the mortgage. The goal is for the resident to start paying a mortgage instead of rent.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor Smith said, “Landis is an innovative company that also has a social mission we are aligned with. We are excited to be part of a journey that helps Americans achieve homeownership through financial education.”

Petit said, “We understand that people can fall on tough times, but no one should be locked out of homeownership forever. Whatever their situation, we give our clients easy, achievable steps to become eligible for a mortgage. Getting ready for a mortgage is often a stressful and difficult process. Landis makes it easy, fun and approachable.”

Echoing a similar sentiment, Sequoia partner Roelof Botha added, “Landis helps families take their first steps towards homeownership. By focusing on financial literacy and individualized coaching, Landis gives everyone the opportunity to own their home. Landis’ technology is particularly relevant to those with low-to-moderate income who have been neglected by traditional financial solutions.”

Landis’s capital raise comes at a time when institutional investors are betting that renting is an increasingly preferred option. Billions of dollars are being poured into the single-family rental space with institutional investors such as Blackstone and KKR are acquiring and building new homes to rent out.

Investment has poured into PropTech, where companies are seeking to modernise real estate sectors such as construction, mortgages, title insurance and home buying. While some companies have launched IPOs, others have failed, most recently Katerra, a SoftBank-backed company that sought to streamline the building process but ultimately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June.

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