If you’ve lived in a big city where renting (versus owning) is a popular option for residents, then you likely know the endless struggle of trying to find a place to live. The listings that often intrigue you are no longer available, and in London, around 50 percent of listings posted to websites are stale, left only for marketing and data capture purposes.
Movebubble, a company launching today on stage at Disrupt London, aims to solve this problem for renters.
The app pairs users with available properties while hiding their personal data from brokers. Not only does Movebubble ensure that every listing you’re sent is actually available (and not already rented), but the app actually analyzes the user’s behavior to ensure that each listing they are shown is relevant to their tastes and needs.
Beyond that, users can schedule a viewing from right within the app, and Movebubble says that it saves an average of 20 hours of research and search for each renter that uses the platform. While brokers are still the ones listing properties on Movebubble, the company analyzes each listing to ensure that it’s still available to rent, which is something that other listing aggregators fail to do.
Movebubble plans to make money through a freemium model, letting users view listings, schedule viewings and search the site for free, paying a small fee for securing the listing through the app.
Traditionally in London, agents market properties through rental portals and newspaper listings on behalf of the landlord. In other words, the landlord is the agent’s customer, charging between 10 percent and 14 percent of the rental transaction. On the other side, the agent charges a flatter fee (around £250) to arrange the rental.
Currently, Movebubble doesn’t interfere with these fees, but rather acts as an agent that works on behalf of the renter, instead of the other way around. This doesn’t actually exist in the London rental market except on the very high-end of the spectrum.
Movebubble says it has attracted more than 1,500 sign-ups in the past six weeks of beta testing, and will be targeting first-time movers and international relocations to acquire new users. The company has raised £1.35m in angel and seed funding, with plans to raise a Series A round in the new year.
You can check out Movebubble for yourself here.
Q: How have you solved the problem of knowing when rental properties are still available?
A: This is a massive problem in the industry. There are so many property listings unavailable when a renter picks up a phone. We solve this by working directly with the agents along with a combination of manual vetting of properties.
Q: When there are multiple agents on a property, how does the app decide which agent to give the listing to?
A: This isn’t a problem we’re solving for now, as we haven’t run into it very often. But it’s something we’ll have to look into in the future.
Q: There are probably other people building this service. How is this defensible?
A: We’ve got partnerships with big employers in London, targeting their own employees to use the platform. We’ve built interesting IP around learning really detailed information around how many listings someone wants to look at, and what type. We’ve also got an amazing team at Movebubble who are passionate about solving this problem and putting the renter at the heart of everything we do. It’s hard to copy that.