Prime Real Estate
Kyle Yeung ’08 helps people put down roots in Hong Kong
Kyle Yeung’s native Hong Kong is home to some of the highest real estate prices in the world.
Would-be homeowners face the added challenge of finding a likely residence before applying for a mortgage; many learn too late that they can’t get the loan they need.
Yeung takes aim at the problem with Roots, an online platform he co-founded in 2018. The service uses algorithms to analyze the financial data of prospective buyers, to both determine the mortgage amount they can afford and identify which banks are most likely to approve the person’s loan application.
“People often underestimate how challenging it is to get a mortgage here,” explains the alumnus, noting that American-style pre-approved mortgages do not exist. “Assuring people they can get a bank mortgage before pursuing a property saves them time, effort and money.”
Yeung’s venture is timely. The 16th annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, released in January 2020, ranks Hong Kong as the world’s least affordable housing market. Median property prices are 20.8 times the median household income.
Roots now employs four people, including the two co-founders. Yeung acknowledges slower-than-expected company growth, amid political protests in 2019 and emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020. Some cause for optimism: Roots is now part of the government-backed Cyberport Incubation Program, which provides funding and support for entrepreneurs.
“We are prepared to persevere and power through,” says the former Economics-Finance major, who draws on his relationships in the banking sector to understand the industry’s appetite for mortgage lending and how to build a related business. Plans include adding algorithms that analyze additional customer information, such as social media accounts, to create lists of properties whose amenities match customers’ likes.
“We want to produce property suggestions that go with who you are and what you can afford,” says Yeung. “There is nothing more meaningful than knowing I’m helping people build their family life by helping them buy property.”