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The rental market continues to pull in money.
But not only from tenants.
A company called Stake which offers banking services and cash rewards to renters for being proactive in their occupancy has secured a Series A funding round of $12 million. Funds will go toward general expansion, from further securing its financial processes to additional product development.
In what could be considered a reference to a trend of emerging companies that extend immediate credit to consumers to cover rent or other expenses, Stake Co-Founder and CEO Rowland Hobbs said renters need a “rainy day fund.”
“Renters don’t need more debt or loans,” Hobbs said. “What renters need is money to help with everyday essentials and to establish long-term savings. Now, their largest expense is also their largest source of savings.”
In a Redfin study reported by Inman, 45 percent of 1,500 renters surveyed said that debt was the primary barrier to homeownership.
Stake’s funding came from several sources, but the round was led by RET Ventures which selected Stake as one of the first investments for the new RET (Real Estate Technology) Ventures ESG Fund or what it calls its Housing Impact Fund.
RET also led a $36.5 million Series B round for Funnel Leasing in February 2022.
Other contributors include Enterprise Community Partners, Hometeam Ventures, Operator Stack, and
Second Century Ventures, the investment arm of the National Association of Realtors, the announcement stated. Current investors Shadow Ventures and Olive Tree Ventures also participated.
Founded in 2018, Stake’s approach is two-fold offering no-fee banking services to tenants and 4 percent cash back each month based on their rent amounts. Tenants are given a Visa Debit card when enrolled to access their accounts. Landlords can further incentivize tenants to take action in return for additional deposits into their Stake account.
Rewards are granted for on-time payments, early renewals, tenant referrals and even for signing their initial leases. Property managers use Stake’s back-end interface to manage units, as well as the tenant reward system.
“Across the $385 million in annual leases connected to the platform, 65% of renters have more money in their Stake account than any other banking account,” the company said.
Stake also claims that its clients—property managers—earn more when using it, up to 130 percent return on overhead.
“While a slew of platforms offer renters innovative payment options, they are all credit or debt-based,” said John Helm, partner at RET Ventures, in the release. “They ultimately encourage dangerous behaviors as part of their proposed solution. Stake flips the script on this model by offering a risk-free, renter-centric, efficient, and easy-to-use pathway toward building wealth.”
Helm will become a member of Stake’s board.
Gravy, a similar fin-tech/prop-tech hybrid that helps renters create and fill a savings account for on-time payments, received $2.6 million in seed funding earlier in 2022.
Stake claims the number of properties using its solution has grown by 10x.