There's certainly a market for a site that allows renters to search for NYC apartments in advance, rather than in the usual rushed one month or two-week timeframe. Several sites have already attempted to fill that void: JumpPost, a now out of business site that was geared toward tenants looking to move in two to six months, and InsideDigs, which features tenants' reviews of their own apartments. Joining them is RentJolt, a now-in-beta site envisioned as an "apartment marketplace." How's it work?
Renters who are moving out can list their apartments on RentJolt for free up to eight months in advance of moving day; interested renters work directly with whoever listed the apartment. (The process is also explained in the site's video trailer.) The site's broker-partner, Shane Kramer of Key NY, works with renters after they click the RentJolt "apply now" button for an apartment. The site and the broker partner each get 2 percent of a year's rent when a lease is signed, and the tenant leaving the apartment gets 1.75 percent. RentJolt CEO Avi Dorfman tells us the ultimate goal is to give the departing tenant a larger percentage.
For prospective renters, the potential incentive is the fee of 5.75 percent of one year's rent, lower than most broker commissions. The site also takes into account the fact that landlords may not announce rent increases until only a few months before a lease's expiration date: RentJolt asks the listing tenant for the current rent, Dorfman explains, and raises that number by 8 percent to arrive at an expected rent for the new lease.
We took a look around the site, which so far has only three listings, including one for a penthouse in Chelsea. Dorfman tells us the site will probably come out of beta when it has between 100 and 500 listings?the site's founders are hoping for a boost from college seniors listing the apartments they'll leave this spring.
·Offiical site: RentJolt [RentJolt.com]
· Launches & Releases archive [Curbed]