Mumbai-based Locon Solutions Pvt Ltd, owner of real estate portal Housing.com (earlier Housing.in), is in advanced talks to raise $40 million (close to Rs 246 crore) in funding, sources close to the development informed Techcircle.in. Of this, half or $20 million (about Rs 123 crore) will be invested by DST Global founder Yuri Milner, who will be investing in his personal capacity.
“The firm is looking to raise $40 million and has already managed to raise $20 million from Milner. It is currently in talks with other institutional investors to raise the remaining amount,” said the source on the condition of anonymity.
Zishaan Hayath, one of the early backers of Housing, confirmed that the company is in the midst of raising funds, but refused to comment on the quantum or the investors. When contacted, Housing co-founder Advitiya Sharma declined to comment on the fundraise. We have also contacted Milner and will update the post as soon as we hear from him.
About four months ago, Housing had raised $19 million in funding from Helion, Nexus and Qualcomm Ventures to expand the company’s new projects, extend its technology to new platforms and marketing. In June last year, the startup had raised $2.5 million in pre-Series A funding from Nexus Venture. Prior to that, it attracted two rounds of angel funding.
In March 2013, the company raised angel funding from former Network18 CEO Haresh Chawla, immediately after securing an undisclosed sum from a group of angel investors, led by Hayath.
The development comes close on the heels of Info Edge’s 99acres.com raising $125 million via QIP. According to an Info Edge spokesperson, the company is anticipating online real estate players to raise about $300 million in the next three years from PE/VC investors. The online classifieds segment in the real estate sector is worth Rs 300 crore as of now.
Commenting on the increasing interest of large international funds in the real estate space, Hayath said, “Searching for property is a genuine problem and one that is large in size. In most markets there are well built solutions for this, but in India startups are still developing them, giving large PE firms a chance to be a part of the development story.”
Housing was set up in 2012 by a dozen IITians out of which three have quit the firm. The portal enables real estate brokers to upload unlimited listings on the site while users can search properties for free. Housing currently has 30 IIT graduates on board.
About a year ago, the startup bought the Housing.com domain name as well as a national number 03-333-333-333, for $1 million. The purchase was done as a first step for the company’s international expansion. Earlier this year, the firm appointed president and CEO of markets advisory firm Crescat International SA Azeem Zainulbhai as CFO.
The firm recently added 12 more cities to its platform, including Ahmedabad, Indore, Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram, Visakhapatnam, Nashik, Vadodara, Mangalore, Trivandarum, Surat, Mohali and Vijayawada to take the total city count to 25. The company claims to have already mapped over 80,000 houses in Mumbai, and over 50,000 houses in Bangalore to date.
Online real estate space in India
Online property search market is highly competitive in India with players like 99acres.com, IndiaProperty.com, Makaan.com, Magicbricks.com, CommonFloor.com, and Proptiger.com, among others. Most of these firms have raised funding over the last couple of years.
Last month, Bangalore-based maxHeap Technologies Pvt Ltd, which owns real estate and apartment management portal CommonFloor.com, had secured $30 million (Rs 181 crore) in Series E round of funding from existing investor Tiger Global Management.
In April this year, Gurgaon-based real estate broking portal IndiaHomes.com had raised Rs 150 crore ($24.9 million) from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), with participation from existing investors Helion Venture Partners and Foundation Capital.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)