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Bilt, Startup Turning Rent Into Points, Valued at $1.5 Billion

(Bloomberg)—Bilt Rewards, which operates a loyalty program and credit card that converts rent payments into points, said its valuation more than quadrupled to $1.5 billion.

Left Lane Capital led the $150 million equity funding round, which featured Wells Fargo & Co, Greystar, Invitation Homes Inc., Camber Creek, Fifth Wall, Smash Capital, Prosus and Kairos, Bilt Chief Executive Officer Ankur Jain said in an interview.

The New York-based startup, which launched last year, processes $3 billion in annualized rent payments, and its Bilt Mastercard customers are spending at an annualized rate of $1.6 billion, Jain said. Bilt is profitable and has more than 500,000 active members, a figure Jain said he expects to grow dramatically as the company’s landlord partners direct tenants to Bilt as a primary payment platform.

These real estate firms, including AvalonBay Communities Inc., Blackstone Inc., Related Cos. and Equity Residential, own more than 2.5 million apartments. Bilt plans to expand its multifamily ties and deepen its foray into single-family rentals beyond Invitation Homes, Jain said. Other US apartment dwellers outside Bilt’s landlord network also can use the company’s card to pay rent.

“Programs like Bilt are key to delivering the resident experience renters want and expect,” Greystar CEO Bob Faith said. “We’re excited to join as partners and investors in this venture.”

In an effort to make homebuying easier, the startup launched Bilt Homes, which shows renters which homes they can own with a mortgage payment equal to their monthly rent. Bilt customers can use points toward down payments and closing costs and, ahead of any purchase, can bolster their credit history by having on-time rent payments reported to credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

“Bilt gives us another way to be there for our customers during their biggest life purchases, including a unique solution to help customers build credit from on-time rent payments, ultimately creating an easier path to homeownership,” Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said in an emailed statement.

Jain said Bilt has gained traction with 21-to-35-year-olds in major metropolitan US cities including New York and Los Angeles, which together account for 21% of its users, as well as Houston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle and Austin, Texas.

The company plans to retain most of its newly raised capital in reserves, though it will invest in brand-building and product education, Jain said.

“Housing represents the largest monthly expense for over 100 million renters in the US and yet consumers have never received any incremental value in return,” said Harley Miller, a Left Lane managing partner who is joining Bilt’s board.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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