Baselane saw an opportunity to help landlords streamline their finances.
With Unit, Baselane provides landlords with an integrated banking, rent collection, bookkeeping, analytics, and tax reporting platform, while providing convenient access to business loans and insurance.
Owning and managing rental properties can be a great way to earn passive income and build long-term wealth—but for many would-be landlords, the financial management can be daunting.
“Banking is the source of truth for any small business.” says Mathias Korder, co-founder and CEO of Baselane. “Today’s average landlord is stitching together four or five different tools to manage their finances. Our goal is to give them a single, seamlessly integrated and automated platform that can do it all.”
There are 11 million individual real estate investors in the US. Together, they own and manage more than 25 million rental units.
Consider: for each rental unit, a landlord must receive a security deposit, collect monthly rent, track expenses, file taxes, maintain insurance, and (eventually) return the deposit. These tasks are straightforward and repetitive, compounding as the number of units increases—but, until recently, there wasn’t a good way to streamline them.
Traditional banks could provide simple money movement and storage. Software tools could help track profits and losses. Connecting the two didn’t actually solve what landlords needed. That’s where Baselane comes in; they provide landlords with an integrated platform for banking, rent collection, bookkeeping, analytics, and tax reporting.
It’s a sizable opportunity. Today there are 11 million individual real estate investors in the United States; together, they own and manage more than 25 million rental units. Looking ahead, Baselane plans to help them with all aspects of their financial journey, and also support them with financial coaching, property management, financing, and insurance.
What Baselane built with Unit
For many landlords using traditional banks, banking is a source of friction and stress.
Generally, landlords open a traditional bank account for each of their rental properties; however banks have limited tools to help landlords organize funds for different units, security deposits, and savings. Additionally, each new account requires a tedious online application—or even a visit to a bank branch—and can take days to get approved.
The accounts often appear in random order, labeled only by their account numbers, without reference to which rental property they pertain to. The result, for many landlords, is that it can be difficult to understand their cash flow or even know how they’re doing.
By contrast, Baselane’s platform shows a clear hierarchy of accounts built to match the rental properties they map to. A Baselane customer might have five rental properties, each with its own unique Baselane banking account.
Beneath each property, there might be two or three rental units, each with its own sub account, including security deposits for different tenants and a savings buffer in the event of a vacancy. For landlords, creating a new account (each with a unique set of account and routing numbers) is as simple as tapping a button; it can be done as often as needed.
“The ability to create bank accounts that are structured the way that landlords manage their rental properties sets us apart.” - Mathias Korder, CEO of Baselane
Within each account, landlords can see detailed analytics and reporting, breaking out cash flow by revenue, expenses, and expense categories. Each transaction is automatically tagged to its respective property and rental unit and can be tagged to Schedule E tax categories. This makes bookkeeping (and later, tax season) a breeze.
To streamline financial management for landlords, Baselane needed a partner who could build and power the more nuanced banking features they required. At the same time, they wanted to go to market quickly and minimize their compliance workload. That’s why they chose Unit: Unit streamlines the bank relationship, compliance, and banking technology so that Baselane can focus on other priorities.
“We spoke to five different banking-as-a-service providers,” recalls Korder. “Unit was the only one that could build what we needed and launch on our timeline.”
FDIC-insured business bank accounts are the core of Baselane’s solution. Add-on banking features enable them to become even more valuable to their customers.
Rent collection is a good example. Nearly half of all rent is still collected in the form of cash or check, which creates an enormous (and unnecessary) burden for both landlords and tenants.
By contrast, when a Baselane landlord signs a new tenant, they simply send them a link. The tenant connects their bank account using Plaid, then authorizes a monthly recurring payment—and that’s it. Neither tenant nor landlord has to worry about it after that.
“The flexibility to programmatically control cards—that’s unique to Unit. Nobody else could give us that.” - Mathias Korder, CEO of Baselane
Cards are another case in point. With Baselane, landlords can create virtual and physical debit cards, each automatically tagged to a property and expense category, automating all bookkeeping. They can also set programmatic limits on spend, restricting the cards to specified monthly amounts, merchants, or categories.
Since adding these banking features, Baselane has seen impressive changes in two key metrics. First, their organic traffic and referrals have increased, leading to a 50% drop in their customer acquisition cost. Second, they’re seeing increased engagement; landlords who utilize Baselane’s banking features log in 50% more than those who don’t.
The good news for Baselane is that there are still abundant opportunities to improve the landlord experience.
“Unit is very structured, which gives us a lot of confidence,” observes Korder. “Throughout our onboarding, they were streamlining the bank relationship and compliance obligations, which allowed us to focus on honing our user experience.”
With the ability to focus on their product, Baselane is continuing to build on top of their core banking features. They’ve recently launched embedded financial services within their platform where landlords can shop for loans and insurance. And in the future, they plan to further automate payments, bookkeeping and things like returning security deposits. (Imagine a button that a landlord could click labeled “return security deposit.”) They’re also planning improvements to their analytics and tax reporting.
“We spoke to five different banking-as-a-service providers. Unit was the only one that could build what we needed.” - Mathias Korder, CEO of Baselane
As roadmaps go, it’s both daunting and exciting. But Korder affirms that, wherever their product takes them, Unit will be a valuable partner in the process.
“What I like about Unit is that the product vision is so compelling, it’s articulated so clearly, and oftentimes it’s getting shipped before the scheduled launch date,” says Korder. “They have a strong engineering team in Tel Aviv that delivers product like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
Ready to bring your own financial features to life? Contact us to learn more.
Baselane is a financial technology company and not a bank. Banking services provided by Blue Ridge Bank N.A.; Member FDIC. The Baselane Visa® Debit Card is issued by Blue Ridge Bank N.A. pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.