Fibre wants to make it easier to invest in real estate in Africa

The housing market in Nigeria is tough. On average, it takes 100 days to find a home and once you do, you typically have to pay one to two years’ worth of rent upfront, Fibre CEO Obinna Okwodu told TechCrunch.

With Fibre, those looking to rent property in Nigeria can find one in three days and then pay monthly. Fibre doesn’t pay landlords upfront, but quarterly. From there, Fibre charges tenants a 15 percent convenience fee, compared to the standard 20-25 percent fees.

Now, Fibre is expanding its focus from home rentals to home buying. At TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco today, Fibre unveiled its plan to launch a home-buying and selling platform that already has $10 million worth of property. For every transaction, Fibre charges a 3 percent fee.

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Fibre is expanding into real estate investing because it’s a big market. Annually, in Nigeria alone, Fibre says $3.5 billion is invested in residential real estate. But investors miss out on six to nine percent rental yields due to an inefficient process, and investing has historically been limited to people with lots of cash.

Secure, Fibre’s new product, aims to help anyone invest in residential real estate all throughout Africa. Through the platform, people can purchase portions of or entire properties via Secure and then rent it out via Fibre’s first product.

“We created Fibre because we figured housing is too fundamental for people to have to jump through so many hoops,” Okwodu said.

Since launching in June 2016, Fibre has guaranteed $1.5 million worth of rental payments to landlords. Fibre’s main product currently lists 200 rental units.

“It’s the complete lack of trust that causes people to demand one to two years of rent upfront,” Okwodu said. “Having a trusted intermediary provides security to homeowners and landlords.”

But Fibre was not initially a trusted intermediary, Okwodu admitted. It took some time.

“To be completely honest, there was zero trust when we started the business,” he said. “But as we existed over time and took up more buildings, the trust level became higher.”

Fibre is currently live in Lagos, but plans to expand throughout the continent of Africa. To date, Fibre has raised $790,000 in funding.