When John Whatley launched DreamHouse in 2017, he had a vision for what live-work-play environments should look like.
From its first headquarters in Atlanta, DreamHouse started as a co-living incubator for entrepreneurs searching for both office and residential options.
Now, after building up the business in Hong Kong over the last few years, the team is moving back to Atlanta with an expanded Housing as a Service model. “Specifically, we now focus on housing for young professionals and the corporations they work for, and developers and landlords with underutilized assets,” Whatley told Hypepotamus.
“DreamHouse has evolved into a new solution to urban living, offering modern professionals a smarter, more connected, and exciting way of living. Combining traditional hospitality with the smartest digital solution, we are creating an elevated balance of home, co-living space, and short-stay hotel,” he added.
Whatley said that DreamHouse has grown substantially in Hong Kong with a group of flexible stay members and a growing team. And they are confident their updated model is ready for the US market.
“Service is something we all understand regardless of where we call home. We’ve taken out a lot of the inefficiencies in our system first. The whole design, retrofit, and construction part of the process, and standardizing is, of course, a great part of that. And doing prefab creation is a key part of that.”
Part of DreamHouse’s appeal is the sense of community. “People actually know what they want, it’s to be in a community, that’s the most important thing,” he added. “So everything outside of that, we just need to do as efficiently as possible. Atlanta offers us a strong growing market at the crossroads of the future of tech, entertainment, and corporate expansion to prove our solution in, besides this is home and it only feels right to build here.”
COVID Changes In Real Estate
Lockdowns, Whatley said, changed DreamHouse in three key ways.
“First, we moved away from doing master lease agreements as our primary way of adopting new inventory. We now offer listing, management, and revenue share agreements primarily, which is more of a win-win for everyone. The second thing was we had to discover new ways to provide the services we knew our renters in every market wanted, such as live shows or community events, luncheons, and a growing list of services. Our answer to this was to refocus on our technology and technology-based programming. We revamped our website, improving the listing and booking capabilities of it, created an admin portal for property owners to keep tabs on various insights of their property, and we developed a community application called DreamApp that, besides collecting rental payments and management request, allows our members to have easier interaction with our community and partner service providers on a local scale.”
Finally, Whatley said COVID helped the team get back to basics. “Covid forced us both to be more short-term and open-minded in our thinking. By focusing really hard on the business principles and the finances, and circling in on one or two markets with solid partners or projects we’ve been able to keep things going with help from Frank despite the lockdowns and him being an ocean away. I don’t think that would have been possible with any other guys, I’m happy and lucky to be working with them.”
We asked Whatley how he sees DreamHouse fitting into real estate trends coming out of COVID. For him, DreamHouse is in a unique position. “Covid has drastically changed the way we all live and work, possibly forever. People are spending more time in their home, thinking much more about the interior and the size, and where their home is, and in Hong Kong specifically, we’ve seen people upgrading their housing, which is, of course, a big market. Atlanta is seemingly similar trends with many first-time homebuyers from here and abroad entering the market. Demand currently is higher than inventory which won’t last forever. So we see an opportunity just now to partner with owners and landlords in the states to offer our all furnished, flexible stay, living, and workspace management, and while doing that, as we see there is also much more interest in the availability for in-unit services which there wasn’t before we look to expand on local partnerships and services we can offer renters.”
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