Wander launches “industry-first” REIT Atlas

US: Austin-based smart home rental platform Wander has announced the launch of what it calls “the industry’s first vacation home rental real estate investment trust [REIT]“, known as Atlas.

Atlas is designed to turn its customers into partial property owners and investors by providing them with an opportunity to invest in the same homes they book.

Wander says that it will leverage Atlas to expand its network of smart vacation homes from coast-to-coast so it can grow its number of rentals by more than 100 per cent by early 2023, positioning Wander properties within a three-hour drive of 80 per cent of the US population.

With Atlas, both retail and institutional investors will be able to tap into Wander’s real estate portfolio in an accessible and scalable way.

Luxury short-term rental homes offer attractive fundamentals, such as regularly generated revenue from guest bookings alongside the stability and appreciation profile of single-family homes. Atlas investors will have the potential to earn high yield-passive income with an eight per cent targeted annual dividend, deposited every single month, as well as sharing in any appreciation of the homes in the event of a sale.

The launch of Atlas comes at a time when investors are increasingly looking to diversify their portfolio after continued public market losses throughout 2022. While demand to invest in single-family homes remains high, due its stability and appreciation, the soaring interest rates have made the asset class increasingly out of reach for many investors, according to Wander.

John Andrew Entwistle, founder and CEO of Wander, said: “Atlas provides a truly unique, and hopefully valuable, investment opportunity – and especially amid a particularly tumultuous moment in global markets. It unlocks an accessible format for real estate investing and a desirable asset class that has historically been plagued with high barriers to entry.

“As investors continue to pursue greater portfolio diversification, we think there’s something very special about being able to invest in assets that investors can actually enjoy directly by booking the properties on Wander. Interest in domestic US travel continues to compound, and we’re committed to meeting the demand by scaling our portfolio of vacation homes to incredible new coast-to-coast destinations,” he added.

Wander was founded in May 2021 with the goal to build the travel experience of the future that reflects new consumer behaviours where people increasingly blend travel, family time, work and play in one experience. The company is aiming to stand out in the travel services space by vertically integrating and owning 100 per cent of the homes on the platform, in order to provide uncompromising high quality, smart technology, and a wide range of unique, inspiring locations for every guest experience.

With more than 500 bookings since launching in early 2022, Wander claims to have a 94.6 per cent customer satisfaction rate amongst customers. Through the company’s app, consumers can book a smart vacation home with workstations, hotel-grade cleaning and 24/7 concierge services to have full home control at their fingertips, as well as access to a Tesla in the garage.

Currently operating properties in locations such as Vail, Tahoe, Joshua Tree, Asheville, Hudson Valley and coastal properties in CaliforniaFloridaOregon and South Carolina [some of which will be part of Atlas], Wander is planning to more than double its number of rental properties by early 2023, expanding to new high-demand beachfront, mountain, lakefront and desert destinations.

Chuckie Reddy, Partner at QED Capital, who led Wander’s series A said, “Wander Atlas has the potential to transform property ownership as we know it. It bypasses traditional means of capital raising with a direct opportunity for the Wander community to own and earn from the very properties they’ve come to love staying in.”

Fellow board member Alex Bard from Redpoint Ventures said: “Magical things happen when users are transformed into owners. The introduction of ownership unlocks both strong returns and greater affinity for the Wander experience.

“In tandem, Wander unlocks location expansion, which results in more growth and opportunities for people to enjoy the travel experience of the future,” added Bard.

To date, Wander has raised more than $30 million in funding from QED Investors, Redpoint Ventures, Authentic Ventures, Susa Ventures, Kevin DurantPacky McCormickSahil Bloom, Todd & Rahul’s Angel Fund and a number of other undisclosed angel investors and operators.