Few things in life are more frustrating than trying to find a new place to live (especially if you’re itching to move to the housing market hellholes that are New York City and San Francisco). It’s no wonder then that so many startups — Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, Apartment List, Rental Engine, Zumper, Nestio, the list goes on — are trying to make it all just a little bit easier.
Of these myriad startups, apartment-centric Lovely has been especially busy these past few months: it closed a (sadly undisclosed) Series A and snapped up automated rent payment startup Rentmatic to help prove its worth to property owners too. So what was next on their agenda? Getting a new Android app out the door, which the company finally did earlier today.
Lovely is hardly new to the mobile realm — it launched an iOS version of the app a little over a year ago, and anyone who’s mucked around with that should feel comfortable taking the Android version for a spin. That’s far from a bad thing when more than a few competing mobile real estate apps are happy to throw everything plus the kitchen sink into the mix. It’s not hard to see why: as stated, finding an apartment is hard and bombarding a user with fiddly options and controls makes them feel like they’re actually getting something done. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, but the illusion of control persists.
The Lovely approach is to strip out the cruft. When you fire up the app for the first time, color-coded listings appear in location-based groups that expand when tapped. From there it takes a but a few taps to directly contact the property owner, share the listing, or report obvious frauds. If you go on to create an account, even more doors open (I slay me) so you can set alerts when properties free up within specific areas and preload some personal and financial information to put potential renters at ease.
There’s little here that differentiates the Android app from its iOS cousin, but that’s hardly an issue — CEO Blake Pierson said he considers Lovely a mobile-first company that uses what it’s learned from fast iteration on the web to inform the mobile experience. All things considered, this new Android version of the app is a handsome one and I actually found a few interesting leads while I was writing this story (what can I say, I’ve grown a little weary of southern New Jersey).
“Some think of us as purely a search tool,” Pierson noted on the phone. “But our long term vision is to be the platform and THE marketplace for rentals.” What he means is that the Lovely vision ultimately encompasses the renting process from both ends: tools for renters and apartment hunters alike. The team has already starting moving down that path with its Rentmatic acquisition, but we’ll see if they can really balance both sides of that equation.