From left: Co-founder Max Blumen; CEO and co-founder Chet Kittleson, and co-founder Molly Braeunig. (Far Homes Photo)
A trio of Redfin alums are teaming up to launch a startup that focuses on buying and selling real estate in foreign markets.
Far Homes emerged from stealth mode Tuesday and announced it raised $2.25 million. The round was led by PSL Ventures, with participation from heavy-hitting angels including Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman and DoorDash co-founder Evan Moore, who was also the former vice president of product at Opendoor.
The startup has an online listings portal to buy and sell homes in Mexico, with plans to eventually expand to new market geographies. It teamed up with property management firms and real estate agents in the country to catalogue more than 230 properties available for purchase. The properties are mostly in vacation zones, ranging from beach-front mansions to single-bedroom condos. Prices vary from about $100,000 to $3.6 million.
These prices are cheap relative to the U.S. real estate market, Far Homes CEO and co-founder Chet Kittleson told GeekWire in an interview. This makes Mexico an attractive alternative market for investors, he said.
“It’s a totally different ballgame,” he added.
Kittleson noted that his team found a noticeable bump in search volume for available homes in Mexico in recent months alongside announcements of work-from-home policies. Employees who can work remote are increasingly interested in moving to beach-front locations, he said.
“The Far Homes team has identified a clear opportunity in the market,” Ben Gilbert, co-founder and managing director of PSL Ventures, said in a statement. “While many now have the flexibility to work from anywhere, most Americans are still priced out of buying a vacation home in the U.S. It’s a no-brainer for many of these folks to buy internationally instead, but it is too complex today.”
Asked why companies such as Redfin or Zillow are not taking advantage of these tailwinds, Kittleson said that the necessary infrastructure for them to operate is not available in Mexico. He added that these large real estate firms rely on Multiple Listing Services to aggregate listings on their platforms, which currently don’t exist in the region. This also makes it difficult for real estate agents to list their properties and reach a broader customer base.
“You just find these outdated WordPress websites run by small agent shops,” he said. “And it’s really hard to get a lay of the land to figure out what’s for sale and what the process is.”
Far Homes, which launched its tech-enabled portal in July, is currently working with about 25 agents in Mexico to help them reach homebuyers in America. The startup makes its money by charging these realtors when they close a deal through the platform.
Real estate investing platforms including Far Homes have faced criticism in the past for making it easier for investors to gobble up real estate, outbid first-time buyers and drive up costs. Kittleson defends the startup’s model because it mostly targets “expat-driven” markets.
Kittleson said that there are currently no other startups building a portal for American buyers to transact real estate in Mexico. Flat.mx, a startup offering iBuying services to homeowners in Mexico, raised $20 million.
Pacaso, co-founded by former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, is also aiming to make it easier for people to own vacation homes. The company, which splits ownership into fractional shares, has a handful of properties in Mexico.
Far homes, which has six employees, was founded in 2022 by Kittleson, Molly Braeunig and Max Blumen. Kittleson previously worked as the senior director of new marketplaces at Redfin, while Braeunig was a director of product marketing and customer insights at Redfin. Blumen worked at both Redfin and Convoy, where he held leadership roles in the marketplace and business growth divisions.
The company said it will use some of its fresh cash to make several hires in positions including tech and customer support. It will also look to boost its marketing to onboard more customers.
Other notable participants in the round include Laurence Jankelow and Ryan Coon, co-founders of Avail, which was acquired by Realtor.com in 2020; Victor Noguera, co-founder of Flat.mx; and Franco Forte, co-founder of Mudafy. The startup did not reveal its current valuation.