Like many entrepreneurs, Alex Lubinsky fused personal experience with knowledge of technology to attack a problem in such a way it makes you wonder why someone had not thought of it before.
Mr. Lubinsky is the cofounder and CEO of Rentberry, a transparent home rental service and price negotiation platform uniting tenants and landlords. Rentberry automates such rental tasks as personal information, credit report and offer submission, agreement e-signing, and online rental payments.
Mr. Lubinsky said the idea for Rentberry began when he and his partners were looking to rent in San Francisco. It took one month to get a place even though there was plenty of inventory, he recalled.
“The huge problem is the rental experience in those markets,” Mr. Lubinsky explained.
Space seekers are blind in the process. They see a property they like and apply, but have to offer a price with no idea whether or not it is competitive. They lose out and have to start anew or they may get soaked.
“Why not create a rental experience that would be absolutely transparent for both, while delivering huge value?” Mr. Lubinsky asked.
Existing solutions are insufficient for both sides, Mr. Lubinsky said. Property management software is expensive for the property owner and mostly covers property and background checks. Zillow and Craigslist are insufficient because there are no safeguards for accuracy. You’re on your own.
With Rentberry, apartment seekers can apply various filters such as location and price to their search and can modify their offers based on how popular a particular property is. If you are up against multiple bidders you can post higher bids in an auction-style format. Conversely if there is no action on a place you can submit a bid below asking and see if the landlord bites.
Another pain of the traditional system are the fees the housing seeker has to pay each time they roll the dice and actually apply for a place.
“When people apply for the property, they usually have to pay application fees,” Mr. Lubinsky said. “In our case this is absolutely free.”
Rentberry also benefits landlords, Mr. Lubinsky said. They can quickly take a property off the market once they have found a tenant, thereby saving themselves unwanted phone calls. The reverse is also true, as they are advertising their property to a larger market and can more easily drive traffic to it. Credit checks are easily completed and applicants screened by reliability measures such as how long they have worked at their current job. Rent, signature and maintenance request collections are much more efficient.
“For the landlord it’s all about finding the most qualified tenant,” Mr. Lubinsky explained. “Even if someone else bids higher the landlord can save money from reduced damages and evictions.”
Just as the tenant can comparison shop on Rentberry, so can landlords, as they can view the marketplace and adjust their pricing to market conditions which can quickly change.
“If the property is underpriced, people can offer more,” Mr. Lubinsky said.”The landlord also sees the number of applicants and has a better picture of true market value.”
Rentberry collects all of the data someone needs to to submit an application, thereby saving time on the application process, Mr. Lubinsky said. Through integrations with credit bureaus, Rentberry provides access to confidential data without having to store it in the data base. That is safer for both Rentberry and applicants, Mr. Lubinsky said.
“When people submit an application, they are writing their Social Security number on a piece of paper so the landlord can run reports. How many landlords will have access to that confidential information?
“You may not get a place but your date of birth and other data will be everywhere.”