Blockchain startup eHab wants to make housing more accessible
eHab founder Josh Graham explains how the platform hopes to make housing affordable through crowdfunding and blockchain technology.
Interview from Blockchain Week London on 23 January 2018.
Read the transcript:
I'm Josh Graham, I'm the founder of eHab.
eHab is a digital platform which empowers people to collaboratively create, design and finance sustainable affordable housing projects. I guess what that really looks like is you would come to the platform and you'd say "I would like to build this type of house in this location with this budget." We then amalgamate that data from all of the users inputting that data and connect you automatically with projects and developers who can make that happen.
And in what way is that elevated by being part of this sphere rather than a straightforward person-to-person relationship?
So part of the aim of the platform is to enable communities to work together more effectively, and so blockchain-based identification and blockchain-based, consensus-based decision-making basically empowers people to, you know, a group of strangers, to trust each other to fulfil that project. We also have a series of smart contracts that essentially make up a project management system for developers, which can help them cut costs and become more efficient on-site.
We also use the blockchain as a crowdfunding mechanism. So, we create tokens for the projects, which are then sold to a global pool of investors to finance that project.
So can you explain how the system works?
You land on the platform and you input where you'd like to live, what sort of house you'd like to buy and your budget. We amalgamate all of that data and connect you automatically with landowners and developers who can make that project happen. When a project comes along, if you're interested in it, you indicate your interest and plans start to get drawn up by the developers who are going to be used on that site.
The people who have indicated an interest in that project will get to vote on different neighbourhood designs so that they generally get an overall input into the design of that project. At that point, you can then work with your individual developer to start to have some input about over how your home would look.
You'd also be able to, at that point, if you're looking for more affordable housing, communicate and collaborate with others in that group to perhaps build terraced housing or an apartment building for a more affordable option, and then, at that point, the developers will go to planning and to get all of this passed through. If that happens, then we will create a unique token for that project, which is sold to a global pool of investors to raise the finance for that project.
Once the finance is raised, then the developers can basically go ahead and start building on that site. They would pay the landowner, they would start to pay different contractors to do all of the different bits to build that project. And we have a smart-contract project-management system which helps automate and facilitate that process.
Once your house is built, you'll have paid your deposit and your loan you'll own 10% or whatever the deposit you've paid of your tokens and you kind of have the option of either simply paying rent on the remaining tokens to the crowd investors who can buy and sell those tokens within our exchange or you can slowly buy back your tokens over time so kind of the equivalent of a blockchain-based mortgage. Or you can simply leverage the equity which is held in those tokens to just go get a regular mortgage from the bank.