RoomHunt, which is launching today, wants to become the go-to aggregator for rental listings, starting with the competitive San Francisco market. The web has changed how we search for long-term rentals, and companies like Zillow, Trulia and Zumper all want to become the destination sites for potential renters and landlords in the cities they cover. With the exception of a few services like PadMapper, however, there aren’t all that many services that aggregate data from all of these sites to make them more easily available for those looking to rent.
Unlike PadMapper, which just specializes in letting you find rentals, RoomHunt also includes a feature that lets you find roommates.
As RoomHunt co-founder and CEO David Weisburd told me yesterday, the service isn’t just meant to overcome the fragmentation in the rental market, but he also aims to provide renters and landlords with more information about each other. Most importantly, though, RoomHunt wants to make renting a bit more affordable. Many of the cheapest rentals in San Francisco, for example, are often houses with four or five bedrooms that have traditionally been hard to rent. If RoomHunt can make it easier to find appropriate roommates, though, these places could suddenly become more rentable and affordable.
For the time being, RoomHunt only focuses on San Francisco and only gets its listings from Craigslist (we hope they won’t get a PadMapper-like cease-and-desist from them). In the long run, Weisburd said, the company obviously wants to expand to cover all the major U.S. metropolitan areas (New York City will likely be the second city to come online).
The service’s site itself is pretty straightforward. You can search by neighborhood and how many bedrooms a house should have, which is about it. Once you look at a listing, RoomHunt will show you images of the house and the description from Craigslist (with data from Zillow and other sites scheduled to arrive in the near future, too). From there, you can email the property manager and start looking for roommates.
The roommates feature uses Facebook Connect and is still in its early stages. Over time, the service wants to provide more complex matching services, but for now, you can already register your interest in finding roommates for a given listing and then start messaging other potential renters who are looking at the same listing.
As for the company’s business model, Weisburd told me that he and his co-founder are mostly looking at a Mint-like model where it would receive affiliate fees by pointing renters to relevant offers from moving companies, Internet and TV services and businesses that provide background and credit checks for landlords, for example.