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Rigor, a New Decentralized Finance Application for Home Construction, to Fix “Affordability Crisis” Plaguing Housing Markets

Rigor, a New Decentralized Finance Application for Home Construction, to Fix "Affordability Crisis" Plaguing Housing Markets

Lenders, homebuilders break ground on “100 Homes” Beta in Central Florida using combined lending, digital payments and workflow coordination software

Rigor, a new DeFi application built to end the longstanding “affordability crisis” plaguing housing markets, launched its “100 Homes” beta program in Central Florida with a supply chain of lenders and homebuilders eager to modernize this vital industry and increase output. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, Rigor is an easy-to-use application that decentralizes lending into new home construction and provides the entire supply chain with web tools that coordinate real-time capital flows with on-the-ground construction logistics, a technical challenge uniquely suited to a blockchain solution. With Rigor, home construction loans are digital assets.

By some estimates, the U.S. faces a housing shortage of up to six million homes, the result of decades of underbuilding. Housing starts as a share of the population have decreased dramatically since 1970, falling 39% since 2006 alone. As a result, more people than ever are excluded from home ownership as home prices are rising faster than wages in 80% of U.S. metro areas. The founders of Rigor argue that the lack of growth is due primarily to investor reluctance to take on the risks endemic to the home construction industry’s notoriously opaque supply chain. In the U.S., only three percent of all real estate financing supports new home construction. Rigor’s management team has more than a decade of experience in Florida’s home construction market.

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“The ‘affordability crisis’ plaguing home ownership is a lending crisis,” said Isaac Lidsky, founder and CEO of Rigor. “The scale of investment is simply inadequate – and that’s understandable when you look at the realities of a fragmented, uncoordinated, and inefficient supply chain rife with misaligned incentives. Rigor’s audacious goal on launch is to end this decades-long crisis so that more homes can be built for people.”

By leveraging the latest in decentralized finance (moving away from traditional banking funding models) and coordination technologies, Rigor harmonizes the entire homebuilding supply chain, revitalizing the asset class. Rigor pairs transparent lending flows with on-the-ground workflow and payment management, minimizing risk for lenders and growing productivity for homebuilders – all areas important to investor confidence. With Rigor, lenders pool capital into a digital asset, find and fund quality homebuilding projects, gain transparency into their projects’ lending flows, and get repaid digitally. Homebuilders manage funds with detailed, task-level budgets that are updated and paid in real time to their supply chain as work is completed.

Rigor has broken ground on its first six homes, part of its inaugural “100 Homes” Beta. The application is being used to source loans and coordinate the construction of these homes in Central Florida. A supply chain of beta partners Including lenders, homebuilders, contractors and subcontractors are putting the application to work.

“Home construction lenders face a variety of risks,” said John Starr, a private investor in Central Florida who is lending through Rigor as part of its Beta. “The community of homebuilders is vast and fragmented and that makes it hard to aggregate investment at scale. Once capital is deployed, lenders like me are limited in our understanding of how projects are progressing, why delays happen, and whom to trust and work with.  Manual, costly checks and controls on lending flows are the only way to keep track and they ultimately constrain growth. Rigor will change all that. I’m excited by the access to deal flow and the financial controls and transparency I’m given with the app.”

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Rigor’s team believes burdensome controls in the traditional lending and administration model slow down work and payments. Contractors, subcontractors, and vendors are often forced to delay completion of projects – or abandon them altogether – in favor of working on projects that have the potential to payback and deliver sooner. This dynamic only adds to lending risk, and a culture of mistrust across the supply chain.

“From where I stand, you wouldn’t know that there was such high demand for homes given the relentless challenges builders face getting and managing construction loans,” said DK Kim, homebuilder and operating partner of FL Pro Brokers in Orlando, who is a participant in Rigor’s beta and an investor in the company. “We build about 80 homes per year, have a great track record, and have built a solid reputation for quality homes that sell. Our biggest constraint to growth is scaling capital sources – and we’re not alone. Rigor gives me the tools I need to scale my lending partnerships and to streamline my operations in a single application so that I can build more homes.”

In the current environment, once capital is committed by a lender, existing on-the-ground payment dynamics lead to friction, inefficiency, and misalignment across the supply chain. According to a recent trade survey, 80% of construction professionals say they spend a significant amount of their time chasing payments for completed work, with 50% paid within 30 days of invoicing, and 43% paid within 31-60 days of invoicing. Some vendors and businesses report they are “rarely or never paid” in full for their work.

According to Brian Montgomery, president of Commence Logistics, a Central Florida contractor (who is also using the Rigor application as part of its beta), “We all need to finance our operating costs to keep the lights on, and that hurts. It adds to the cost of construction, and creates a culture of resentment and mistrust. With Rigor, work is verified and there is zero ambiguity about what has been completed. Rigor is solving the core issues that keep us from building more homes faster.”

“We’re seeking to grow the opportunity for investment into home construction by creating a new, digital asset class that’s accessible to both traditional lenders and new digital asset investors,” said Erich Wasserman, Rigor’s founder and president of business development. “The home construction industry can expect significant value recapture, making the market for homes more profitable for invested capital and producers, while ultimately reducing the cost for home buyers.”

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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