For people seeking something that falls between short-term rentals and year-long leases, it can be tricky to secure a lease.
Let’s say you’re a professor guest-teaching at a small public college for a single semester, or a family suddenly uprooted because a parent received an awesome job opportunity in Silicon Valley. You could pay a ton to stay in an Airbnb for an extended amount of time, or try to secure a lease for far fewer months than most landlords would prefer. If you’re lucky, Craigslist will point you to someone willing to work out a sub-lease that works for your circumstances.
HomeSuite CEO David Adams wants to give people in those situations an easy way to stay somewhere nice for the duration of their visit or acclimation to a new city. His startup focuses on finding furnished and corporate housing for users, who typically sign up for leases of four to five months.
Officially launched in January, Adams says the long-term goal for HomeSuite is to broaden the appeal of short-term housing. Instead of committing to living in a single place for a year or more, Adams says people should be able to “try out” different parts of a city, and by providing furnished homes with hotel-like services, HomeSuite is reducing the amount of work its users would have to put into moving in and out of a unit.
To get from here to there, the startup is constantly bringing new units into its system. To ensure quality (and make sure no one pulls a fast one and tries to get them to sell a sub-lease), HomeSuite interviews every landlord and confirms that every unit does in fact come fully furnished — including things like linens and kitchen utensils — and secures leases for less than a year.
HomeSuite makes money from a user committing to a unit. When a person agrees to sign a lease, the startup takes a percentage of the first payment ranging from five to ten percent, with the cut decreasing on more expensive units.
After mostly bootstrapped testing in 2014, HomeSuite raised $2.3 million from Battery Ventures, Foundation Capital, and Bessemer, among others. Adams says the team is “following demand” as it adds units, with most expansion taking place in Palo Alto, Mountain View, and the “central corridor” of San Francisco, cutting from the Mission through the Financial District.