Who likes Craigslist? No one! Who wants to see a startup succeed in providing a better alternative when searching for an apartment? Pretty much everyone! Will RentHop be that startup? I dunno, maybe.
RentHop, which launched in 2009 and has spent the last several years refining its marketplace for apartment rentals, is now moving beyond just that market and has opened up nationwide. In doing so, it will (hopefully) make apartment hunting more bearable to people outside of New York City.
The key to RentHop is in giving each listing a score, based on a lot of different data it has. That includes information about the apartment itself, its location, the property manager, the number of photos it has and how good they are.
According to co-founder Lee Lin, Renthop also takes into account how new a listing is, and how many other people have clicked through on it. The thinking there goes that the longer a unit has been on the market, the more likely it is that there’s something wrong with it. And the more people have clicked through, the less likely it is that it will be available for rent.
The goal is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and make it easier to find high-quality rentals that are actually available. While much of that is focused on the user experience for renters, the platform also makes it easier for property managers and brokers to gain qualified leads.
RentHop charges just $2 per listing per week, which is low enough that there should be no barrier to getting brokers involved. At the same time, having just the tiniest cost ends up ensuring that brokers and property managers end up putting higher-quality listings on the site.
In general, Lin says some have a habit of spamming Craigslist with bait-and-switch listings, which is something you can’t really do on RentHop. The algorithm behind the scenes does the work of filtering out most fraudulent listings, so renters are only served up the best.
While RentHop is now working with some of the largest brokers in New York City, it’s relying on outside data providers to populate its listings in other markets. But the hope is that as users in those cities start using the site, it’ll become more attractive to local property owners and managers and brokers to list there.