Q&A with Danny Haber of oWOW

Full Interview with CEO and Co-Founder of oWOW – Danny Haber

Danny

Source: CEO World Biz Danny Haber 

Danny Haber is the CEO and co-founder of oWOW, an innovative, vertically-integrated company with a unique approach to property development in the Bay Area. Haber’s company invests in the net new housing on vacant land and empty buildings and brings beautiful new apartments to market well below market price. We sat down with Danny for a full interview, and this is what he had to say:

Q: There are so many real estate developers in the Bay Area – what makes your brand so different?

A: Thanks for the opportunity to sit down with you and explain a little more about the inner mechanics of oWOW. You are 100% correct: the real estate market in the greater Bay Area is saturated with developers. Most of them however are focused on the high-end of the market; the clientele with top dollar who can afford to pay astronomical rentals, or purchase prices. oWOW  is different. We don’t cut corners when it comes to providing maximum luxury for our tenants; we do cut costs however. Our vertically-integrated company is comprised of a small team of expert developers, designers, and real estate professionals. We know what we’re doing, but more importantly, we are aiming to solve an exigent problem in society. 

The housing crisis in this part of California is extreme; there is rampant homelessness, and a mass migration out of the city. We want to turn things around by bringing affordability back to the equation, without sacrificing on quality or luxury. oWOW has already made tremendous inroads in this arena by catering to a niche market. We don’t focus on the upper echelons; we focus on middle-income earners who are genuinely looking to make San Francisco, Oakland, and other communities in the Bay Area their home. We have several big projects to our credit, including 960 Howard Street, 674 23rd Street, and 316, 12 Street, among others. We are proud of what we have done and what we are doing to help alleviate the housing crisis, one project at a time.

Q: What are you doing that is so different to what others are doing?

A: we are building infrastructure to massively lower the price to build space for businesses and housing and decrease the schedule. These seemingly opposing objectives are quite possible with the model that we have developed. Our company has effectively reinvented design. We use repeatable designs and structures which are built and assembled off-site and then shipped to location for rapid deployment. This cuts project time down considerably, and reduces costs for everyone. We can use our MacroUnits with a flexible walls system known as Magic Walls to bring our products to market quickly and cost effectively. Imagine an apartment with 800 ft.² of space with a single bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen being transformed into a multi-bedroom, multi-bathroom apartment with luxury trappings. That’s what we do for our customers.

Q: Why is the Bay Area property markets so convoluted and so expensive?

A: It’s a tricky question to answer – no doubt. There are many factors at play, some of which tend to preponderate the current situation such as Proposition 13, excess demand for real estate, and the slow pace of change, and yet there are other factors working in the opposite direction to change the status quo. These factors include unprecedented investment by leading tech titans Google, Facebook, Apple, and the state of California. Is the change happening fast enough? Absolutely not! Let’s take a look at things like employment numbers in Silicon Valley since 2008/2009 for a start. I recall reading an article in the Mercury News, and many other periodicals and newspapers about the explosive growth in the Silicon Valley job market over time. In 2009, there was a -6.3% decline in jobs in Silicon Valley, for obvious reasons. In 2010, job losses continued, but at a much slower rate at -1.3%. Since 2011 however, there have been dramatic increases in the number of jobs in Silicon Valley, with the strongest years on record being 2013, 2014, and 2015. 

In 2018 for example, Silicon Valley companies added 35,600 jobs, down slightly from 47,300 jobs in 2017. These numbers are important insofar as they determine how much housing is needed. Unfortunately, the current construction of new homes in communities around Silicon Valley is insufficient to keep pace with job creation. This has resulted in an exodus of people from the region, particularly in 2018 where the outflow of migration numbered 22,300 people. Of course, we don’t want this situation because it will destroy the entire ecosystem. If only the wealthy remain, we won’t have anyone available to teach the kids at school, tend to the sick and elderly, wait on us at hotels and restaurants, provide basic community and social services, et cetera. We have to reverse the trends for the San Francisco Bay Area to be successful.

Q: What type of investments have already been made in the Bay Area, and how will your business continue to contribute towards the change that is needed?

A: Bay Area technology companies realize the seriousness of the situation. They have the means to make a difference, even if they cannot fix the problem overnight, their financial investments will facilitate change. Facebook decided to pledge $1 billion for the construction of 20,000 homes regionally, Google also pledged to construct 20,000 homes in the Bay Area by 2030 (estimated value of $1 billion). To this end, Google is building 2000 homes annually, and this will greatly benefit Santa Clara County, and Alameda County. Microsoft pledged $500 million in loans for affordable housing development for homeless people. 

Apple is also jumping in on the action. With its affordable housing fund of $1 billion, which is part of a much greater fund of $2.5 billion. Apple has gone the extra mile with a mortgage assistance program for new homebuyers. When so many companies are investing heavily in the housing market, this is good news for everyone. My company will continue to do what it does best – serve local community by creating a beautiful, work/life living system which accommodates young professionals, teachers, entrepreneurs, artisans, and artists from across the board. We want to rejuvenate communities and provide affordable luxury living. We are happy to take on this challenge!

You can connect with Danny Haber through Twitter and LinkedIn, or the Danny Haber Crunchbase profile

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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