True to its name, Infobrij seeks to bridge the information gap by providing all people involved in investments the transparency they need to complete successful deals. The company, based in South Coast Metro in Southern California, at first kept its technology platform “under lock and key by invitation only” and then publicly launched in October 2016. The Infobrij deal negotiation platform applies to real estate now, but the company has plans to expand its deal-making principles to other sectors in the future.
Founder and CEO Brian Barbuto started the company with one employee in June 2015. It since has grown to include 14 full-time and a dozen part-time staff. The team’s first developments span a cross-section of real estate projects including fourplexes, a small seven-lot housing community, some high-end homes, high-density apartment communities of 200 to 300 units, single-family home communities from 100 to 330 units, hotels and motels, and a dormitory housing project on a campus in Texas.
The technology behind Infobrij provides a vetting and underwriting process before opportunities make their way to the platform.
“Our idea behind bridging the information gap is giving everybody full access from beginning to end,” says Barbuto. “We put the tools in the hands of investors and lenders who normally wouldn’t have results in their hands, and then we monitor our projects.”
Every facet of a project is thoroughly analyzed. That includes assessing the history of the developer, the demographics, the valuation, the appraisal and the conditions of approval.
“We share that information with respective investors and lenders to eliminate their need for having to go out and do their own due diligence,” says Barbuto, who adds the Infobrij findings are more exhaustive than what the typical lender or investor could manage.
Investors and lenders can monitor the day-to-day operations from miles away.
“You’ve got a webcam that’s got eyes on the project from the day it was dirt or the day it was acquired,” says Barbuto.
Because of the economic crisis beginning in 2006, bank lending practices changed from being funded based on anticipated appraised value of the completed project to the actual cost of a project at a very reduced ratio. For example, Barbuto says, where developers were used to borrowing 90 percent of the perceived value, today debt financiers may lend 65 percent of the actual cost of improvements. The result is that the developer must come up with the difference in cash.
Infobrij looks at the project itself and the sponsor’s ability—not based upon financial statement or net worth but, rather, experience. Also, the company reviews credit history and financial statements to determine the risk associated with the project. In addition, Infobrij chooses a top-notch appraiser to analyze the value and marketability.
Investors aren’t limited to developers they’ve networked with or to properties they can drive to see. Thanks to Infobrij’s rigorous vetting and underwriting process and real-time access to developers, investors and developers from across the county have the information they need to partner together.
“We’re basically putting projects in everybody’s backyard,” says Barbuto. “At the Infobrij platform, it really is a collaborative marketplace for a deal flow, negotiation and transaction.”
Infobrij’s Capital Asset Protection Assurance Program (CAP) promises an attractive 80 percent risk management warranty.
While many investors enjoy being hands-on, Barbuto says his company provides opportunities for investors where they get the returns they’re seeking without the headache of daily management. As the Infobrij model garners more awareness, Barbuto hopes visitors to the site will “get a feel for who we are and what we do” and be excited by the opportunity to generate profit without having to crawl under houses.
“Infobrij is a place where they can trust professionals with a track record of success in management of these types of projects,” says Barbuto. “So, they can become passive investors instead of active investors.”
Barbuto thinks his new business launched at the right time because he expects market conditions to be “very robust” in the near future for two reasons. One is that “Millennials are a very educated, family-oriented group and are having larger families” than their parents. And second, Baby Boomers are living longer, healthier lives so they are seeking independent housing beyond the age of previous generations.
“We think that the housing community and the housing demand in the next 10 years is going to be staggering,” says Barbuto.