How Cape is helping OwnHome solve the biggest problem in homeownership

Will Blunt
October 21, 2021

For this edition of the Cape Shapers Founder Series, we interviewed James Bowe, the Co-Founder of our 100th customer, OwnHome.

OwnHome is the fastest-growing player in the ‘rent-to-buy’ property sector. They’re tackling one of the biggest problems facing Aussie home buyers right now - affordability.

OwnHome helps everyday Australians find their dream home and move in without the enormous capital outlay of a deposit. Instead, OwnHome makes the purchase and takes installments from the eventual buyer, allowing them to purchase the house over time whilst living in it. It’s like renting, but you end up with a home!

With funding from the likes of Commonwealth Bank and Hostplus, OwnHome is preparing for continued growth in a sector that has been crying out for innovation for decades. Rent-to-buy arrangements are just what Aussies needed, given the recent rate hike and the seemingly insurmountable cost of houses.

To prepare for the next growth stage, James and his team needed an expense management solution that would give them access to capital, budgets, spend controls, insights, and finance automation. Enter Cape.

We sat down with James at the OwnHome office in Sydney to understand more about their business and how they are using Cape to scale. You can watch or read the interview below.

Who are you, and what does your business do?

"I'm James, Co-Founder of OwnHome. OwnHome offers a new path to homeownership that allows you to save for your home while you live in it.

We all know that rent money is dead money. We also know that access to the 'Bank of Mum and Dad' has become the deciding factor in whether families can achieve the security of homeownership in Australia. So what we've created at OwnHome is a new path to homeownership that doesn't require you to have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars to move into your own home today."

What is your backstory?

"I spent a whole bunch of time overseas - seven years in San Francisco and some time in London. What I saw overseas was that the rent-to-home pathway to homeownership was incredibly mature in the US and the UK but simply didn't exist in Australia. That was a light bulb moment for me that there was this huge opportunity to create and forge this path to homeownership. It's a model that makes sense in the context of Australia when the size of the deposit in Sydney is about the same as the entire cost of a home in the US.

What I set out about doing was coming back to Australia to bring this to reality."

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in the last 12 months?

"We've been inundated with demand. To date, we've had over 12 billion dollars of applications to OwnHome. We've tapped into what is a very deeply felt need in Australia, which is to find support in bridging the deposit gap. We're finding that the determinant has been this access to intergenerational wealth. So, we're excited to have folks who have really galvanised behind our mission."

How does someone get started with OwnHome?

“It’s as simple as heading to OwnHome.com and taking the 3 minutes to apply to determine your buying power. Once you’ve determined your buying power, we can get to work partnering with you on finding your dream home and helping you craft that negotiation strategy to make sure you get your dream home at a great price.

You can buy your property outright from OwnHome anytime after 24 months. Each month, a portion of your monthly payments are going towards the accumulation of a deposit towards your home. But in the meantime, that home is effectively yours to do whatever you want with. You can even Airbnb your home. After all, you're simply saving for that home while living in it."

What problem did you have that made you look for a solution like Cape?

"Well, candidly, the problem we had was that it's really difficult to make it through the bureaucratic processes of a bank to access something as simple as a credit card for our employees.

I'm also conscious of the value that comes from having a simple and clear interface that helps us track expenses by category in the business and was looking for that expense management element, too."

Why did you choose Cape?

"I've been tracking the incredible progress of Cape from day dot. In terms of what drew me to Cape, it was the fact that the tech is built in the 21st century. This is an expense management platform, not simply a business credit card. The ability to issue specific cards for employees and track all of those expenses in a simple and single interface was really valuable.

I've got a business to run, so anything that can help me easily handle how we're spending and where we're spending is fantastic. Cape does such a great job of that."

What tangible outcomes have you seen since using Cape?

"We really are a valued customer. We're not simply customer number a gazillion and one; we're more than just the number on our card. Although, I might add that the card itself is very slick.

They're keen to understand our business needs and how they can be an effective partner."

Fun fact about OwnHome

"Something unique about OwnHome that not many people know is that my Co-Founder, Tim, is a happy OwnHome customer."

Thanks James!

We love the support we can provide OwnHome on its journey to solving one of the biggest problems in homeownership. It’s been a pleasure working with James and his team so far, and we can’t wait for the next stage of the journey.

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Join Cape today.

Will Blunt
October 21, 2021