The Ballard launch, for which 100 prospective buyers toured the properties in two days, is the first of a predicted 60 properties to be offered in multiple markets by next year.
The company is ReSpace, whose owners, Rick and Katrina Eileen Romatowski, tout their firm as providing not just a new homeownership concept but an opportunity to get into the real estate investment business.
Katrina, founder and CEO, has more than 25 years of experience in both commercial and residential real estate as a broker, subdivider, and developer for both clients and her own portfolio.
Rick Romatowski, Director of Business Development & Finance, is a Wharton MBA and former tech entrepreneur with 12+ years in real estate development and three successful tech exits to AOL, Qualcomm, and Nuance Communications.
Demographic realities and recent action by the 2023 Washington Legislature may be combining to make the timing right for the emergence of a company like ReSpace.
As to demographics, a study conducted by Pew Research Foundation in 2017 found that 31 percent of the adult population was sharing a home with what the researchers described as a “non-romantic partner.” It would be unlikely that in the COVID period we have passed through since then with its work-from-home emphasis, anything would have diminished that.
And over a five-year period, co-buying has increased 771 percent. Yes, that’s 771 percent. And today 84 percent of millennials, the largest living and working adult population, say they could consider co-buying if provided the right opportunity. Millennials own just 17 percent of the residential real estate.
The legislation the Washington State Legislature passed last year requires many local governments to revise their regulations to allow for a greater number and increased types of housing in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family, detached housing.
The legislation requires cities governed by Growth Management planning, within six months of their periodic update due date, to allow certain minimum densities for middle housing.
The Romatowskis have already attracted some heavy hitters from both real estate and investments as advisors, each of whom may well attract their own cadre of followers to be involved.
David W. Berkus is an angel investor and venture capitalist from Southern California. He is often referred to as the “super angel” and has been credited with technological innovations in computer software for the hotel and lodging industry.
Richard Sudek, who is retired and lives in Montana, where he is friends with other wealthy angel investors, is chairman emeritus of the Southern California-based TEC Coast Angels, which was the largest angel group in the nation at the time he chaired the Orange County, CA, chapter.
Keith Bruce is Washington State's real estate commissioner.
Todd Britsch is the founder of New Home Trends, perhaps the country’s leading residential property trend forecasting agency.
A possible example of the interest ReSpace will generate as it becomes broadly known is that as the company was founded, it test-marketed the two-suite property in Ballard.
And as the 100 perspective buyers toured the property, KING 5 in Seattle ran the story as its lead for a full 24-hour news cycle.
ReSpace’s goal is to make “home ownership hyper-affordable in the most sought-after markets in the country.”
The process they outline to achieve that is to divide ownership of the homes, designed to be under-utilized ones transformed into well-appointed new spaces, with ownership of the homes divided into fractional shares.
"We divide ownership of the homes into fractional shares that can be owned and mortgaged independently, allowing multiple independent owners to live in the property with exclusive access to their own private suites,” Katrina Eileen said.
“Realtors are already asking us how they can get into our world and have help creating fractional ownership in their markets,” she added.
Sudek, the angel investor, told me, “There are few solutions for millennials to afford luxury housing and build equity. ReSpace turns renters into homeowners in great neighborhoods. A new path for ownership that makes sense in the current and future housing market.”