Southern California’s new generation of Chinese entrepreneurs collaborate across industries to launch the “Hommtown Home” real estate app

LAPost Pasadena (April 28, 2024) – In today’s real estate market, information asymmetry and inefficiency are often the main challenges faced by both buyers and sellers, as well as real estate agents. However, with the advancement of technology and the introduction of innovative thinking, this traditional industry is undergoing a revolution.

Recently, at various major real estate agent events in Southern California, training courses offered by two young Chinese entrepreneurs have been well-received by real estate professionals. They have jointly developed an app called “Hommtown,” aiming to improve the process and experience of real estate transactions through industrial design methods. Over the past two years, it has gradually been understood, accepted, and utilized by local real estate agents.

Brand new Hommtown app available for download

From left: Robert Cheng and Gary Wat, co-founders of “Hommtown” (Photo provided by: Robert Cheng)

On the evening of April 27, the mainstream English-language Los Angeles Post conducted an exclusive interview with Robert Cheng and Gary Wat, the co-founders of “Hommtown” who are driving innovation in the real estate field as part of a new generation of Chinese entrepreneurs.

Robert Cheng during an interview (Photo by: Tian Hua)

Robert Cheng graduated from the prestigious ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, majoring in industrial design. After graduation, he worked as an industrial designer and participated in numerous design projects for internationally renowned brands. In his spare time, Robert enjoys cooking and playing tennis. Their startup’s office is also an apartment full of design elements.

Gary Wat during an interview (Photo by: Tian Hua)

Gary Wat is a second-generation early Hong Kong immigrant; his parents immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong at the age of seventeen. He was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley and graduated from the University of California, Riverside, with nearly a decade of experience in the real estate agency industry. His wife is from Dalian, China, and after graduating from Zhejiang University, she pursued a master’s degree at the University of Southern California (USC) and now works in the alumni office at USC. Gary is a surfing enthusiast and can communicate fluently in Cantonese and Japanese.

The two began collaborating by coincidence as they both lived in the same apartment building in downtown Pasadena, with apartments on the same floor directly across from each other. During their conversations, they would often discuss their experiences and challenges at work. Their sharp minds led them to exchange insights and ideas based on their respective professional experiences. Robert approached the real estate market from the perspective of industrial design, conducting in-depth analysis and research on various pain points. He found that existing processes greatly limited efficiency and effectiveness, both in terms of property promotion and customer service. For instance, when real estate agents use traditional social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok to promote properties, they often struggle to precisely reach their target buyers, leading to wasted promotional resources and reduced chances of closing deals.

Gary, on the other hand, brought a practical approach based on his experience, which helped him deeply understand the needs and challenges faced by buyers and sellers during the transaction process. Particularly in terms of scheduling house viewings, the traditional process was cumbersome and time-consuming, posing significant problems for busy real estate agents and efficiency-driven buyers.

The development of the “Hommtown” app was based on these insights and market demands. The app not only optimizes the presentation and promotion of properties, making them more precise and effective, but also simplifies the process of scheduling house viewings, allowing buyers to conveniently and quickly arrange viewings, while enabling agents to manage their time and resources more efficiently.

Moreover, the app places a special emphasis on providing detailed information about each community, helping buyers better understand the areas they may live in. From schools to restaurants, parks to shopping centers, the app encompasses all of this information, providing buyers with comprehensive decision-making support.

Robert and Gary stress that their goal is for “Hommtown” to become not just a real estate transaction platform, but a comprehensive lifestyle guide, helping people not just buy a house but a satisfying home. They aim for the app to become a game changer in the real estate industry, not just in California but across the entire U.S. and globally.

With their deep understanding of innovation and market demands, Robert and Gary’s effort undoubtedly injects new vitality into the real estate market. For market participants, whether buyers, sellers, or agents, the “Hommtown” platform offers the opportunity to find an ideal home and enjoy unprecedented convenience and efficiency. Currently, nearly a thousand real estate agents in the Southern California region are using their platform.

Robert and Gary plan to continue improving the app to drive the industry’s future. They aspire for “Hommtown” to become the go-to tool for everyone seeking the perfect home.

With their strong learning ability, after the launch of ChatGPT, the duo explored its various features in-depth and spent three months using ChatGPT to co-author a book on “Hommtown” that combines design and professional content. The book has now been published and is available on Amazon.

They now regularly offer on-site shooting courses for local real estate agents across different regions of Southern California, teaching them how to create short videos showcasing properties for sale. These courses help industry peers quickly master video production techniques and have been well-received and highly praised by the local mainstream real estate community. The young duo’s multidisciplinary background and synergy offer new perspectives for entrepreneurship in traditional industries. (By: Richard Ren/LAPost)