Exclusive Q&A: Tim Manson Wants To Change The Way Americans Lease Apartments
Serial entrepreneur Tim Manson is not your typical realty tech entrepreneur. For starters, he’s an Australian helping Americans change the way we lease apartments as founder and CEO of Property Connect.
Tim’s been in real estate as a developer and financier since 2001. In his career, Tim has worked on projects including land and house developments, large commercial refurbishments and the development of several industrial business parks. In 2004, he branched off and created his own real estate company, Manson Group, where he gained experience in sales, development and portfolio management.
Now the California-based real estate software company is launching the latest version of its flagship product: LifeOffer 2.0. Bisnow spoke to Tim about his company's growth, Property Connect’s IPO and his American dream.
Bisnow: You’ve been a developer in Sydney and now you’re in the American market. What lessons translate and what new things did you learn about the US?
Tim Manson: I was fortunate growing up and spending time in America on family vacations and business trips. My father carried out business in the USA and has taught me so much about the two markets, so I owe a lot of my current knowledge of the American market to him.
The US market is an entirely different beast—the size and population alone make businesses such as ours so attractive. To put it in perspective, Southern California alone has more people than the entire population of Australia.
Specifically regarding the rental market, the USA population is much more transient than Australia and the turnover rate on rentals is higher. Our initial market, being the multifamily apartment industry, does not exist in Australia, with the structure there similar to condos via an HOA structure.
Bisnow: How did the idea for LiveOffer come about?
Tim Manson: While managing properties in Australia, it became very evident that real estate as a whole severely lacked innovation through technology. LiveOffer came about because we would have 30-plus groups through an open house rental inspection and after deciding on an applicant, we would receive numerous calls from applicants who had missed out, saying they were so upset and would have paid more, stayed longer or moved in sooner.
From this, it became clear that we were not only leaving money on the table, but the entire leasing process was not at all fair to the hardworking applicants. They had zero visibility and transparency into the process.
Bisnow: What can I do with Property Connect's LiveOffer that I can’t do with an existing solution?
Tim Manson: LiveOffer provides a real-time market-based leasing solution that gives renters much more control, visibility and transparency; they know immediately what they must do in order to have the best shot at securing the property. This is not always having to pay higher rent, but changing the terms such as move-in date and lease length to help gain the best position.
On the flip side, LiveOffer provides property managers and owners with a guaranteed best result for the property every single time. They not only secure the best result, but also gain valuable analytics into the types of features renters are most interested in, then can act on the data to increase the value of their property.
Bisnow: How did you scale Property Connect over time? What was your sales strategy?
Tim Manson: Property Connect has grown organically via LiveOffer version 1—through iteration and market testing, multifamily has clearly become the most attractive market for us. The scale of gaining portfolios of thousands of units under one property management group is much quicker than the traditional broker route. Investors recognize that real estate tech is an exciting space, incorporating both software platforms driving efficiencies and virtual reality applications.
Bisnow: What was the strategy behind going public in Australia instead of an American exchange?
Tim Manson: The US market for early stage companies is dominated by VC funds who are very aggressive on valuation and act as a club (i.e. they all invest in their friends deals and the pricing is predatory). There has been a lot of VC fund interest in Property Connect, but it’s money that comes with influence and at an unacceptable price.
Increasingly, US tech companies see the ASX as a way to escape the VC ecosystem. By raising money via the ASX, companies can attract Australian and Asian capital at a fair price, with the ASX being a highly regarded exchange in world markets that US investors can also take part in. As we grow Property Connect we can eventually look at other avenues, including a listing on Nasdaq. Our business is US-focused, but our home exchange for now is the ASX, and we are very happy to be listed on one of the most highly regarded and transparent stock exchanges in the world.
Real estate tech is one of the hottest sectors in the US right now, and so we expect serious market support as we achieve and communicate our corporate development objectives.