June 6, 2018 / 4:11 PM / 6 months ago

Brazilian homebuilder Cyrela looks to enter loan business with start-up

SAO PAULO, June 6 (Reuters) - Cyrela Brazil Realty SA , one of Latin America’s largest homebuilders, is raising up to 150 million reais ($39 million) for an internal start-up that will extend home equity loans to Brazilians, an executive said.

Speaking to Reuters at Cyrela’s Sao Paulo headquarters, Managing Director Juliano Bello said the homebuilder hopes to raise 50 million reais in equity financing this year - with the possibility of another 100 million reais in the future coming from Cyrela or additional external investors.

The previously unreported initiative, known as “CashMe,” is a way for Cyrela to grab a piece of Brazil’s growing property-backed loan market and is part of a wave of consumer lending start-ups in Latin America’s largest economy.

Such loans still have a relatively small market share in Brazil, where the vast majority are higher-interest unsecured loans provided by banks

In addition to CashMe, Cyrela utilizes the services of more than 20 external start-ups. Among them is QuintoAndar, a well-known Brazilian site that removes many of the bureaucratic hurdles of renting an apartment.

“We have more than 10,000 start-ups in the country, but only 80 are in the (real estate) sector,” said Bello, adding that he saw that number growing significantly.

Cyrela also works with a start-up called Nuveo, which helps the company navigate Brazil’s complex municipal real estate taxes, and Homelande, a tool that helps clients find home financing options.

Regarding CashMe, Bello said he sees the market for home equity loans growing several-fold to 100 billion reais per year within the next decade. He said the start-up aims to get such loans approved in as little as two days. ($1 = 3.83 reais) (Reporting by Gabriela Mello and Gram Slattery; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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