Housing startup Nabr joins team behind 125-unit San Jose project

Project is first for Nabr, whose platform allows people to buy apartments upfront or through a lease-to-purchase program

Nabr CEO Roni Bahar and renderings of the project (LinkedIn via Bahar, The Boundary)
Nabr CEO Roni Bahar and renderings of the project (LinkedIn via Bahar, The Boundary)

Nabr, a housing startup that lets people buy or rent apartments, joined the team behind a 125-unit apartment project in downtown San Jose, which would be the first to offer its services.

The company is partnering with developer Urban Community, one-half of the joint venture behind the downtown project at 415 S. Third Street and 98 E. San Salvador Street, to create a path to homeownership for area residents, the Mercury News reported. The development’s cheapest apartments available for purchase are in the high $700,000s. Prospective buyers can reserve their homes starting next year, according to Nabr’s website.

What separates Nabr’s business model is the startup allows people to buy residences upfront or through a lease-to-purchase option. If a prospective buyer decides not to buy their home upfront, they must make a 1 percent down payment to lock in their home’s purchase price for an up-to-five-year period. During that time, the buyer would make monthly lease payments as if they were renting an apartment, with a portion of those payments applying as credits toward their purchase.

If the resident ends up deciding not to buy their home, they are free to move out at the end of their initial lease term, Nabr’s website says.

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“Our long-term vision is to deliver projects in less than half the time and at price points affordable to middle-income households nationally,” Nabr co-founder Nick Chim said in a Dec. 9 news release. “We are starting in the Bay Area, where residents face an incredibly expensive real estate market that few can afford to buy.”

The first test case for the company’s business model is called SoFA One, a reference to its location in San Jose’s South of First Area, the city’s main arts and entertainment district. The project would offer more than 125 units, assuming it receives city approval and gets built.

Urban Community owns one of the two parcels that make up the SoFA One site and has an option to buy the other, according to the Mercury News. It’s partnered with developer Terrascape Ventures to propose building that project and two other nearby apartment structures in the SoFA District.

Bjarke Ingels Group, whose namesake co-founded and is an investor in Nabr, is co-designing SoFA One, which is slated to break ground next summer and be ready for move-in by summer 2023, the news release said.

[The Mercury News] — Matthew Niksa