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Can A Yelp/Zagat for Apartments Work?

Congrats to long time reader Yale Fox, the CEO of RentLogic, for the writeup in Bloomberg.

I totally believe there to be interest in dirty laundry being aired about apartments (units & buildings) a tenant is about to spend thousands of dollars a month to live in.

That said, I’m not without concerns on the business side…

Bloomberg picks up on my core question:

The next challenge will be to find a business model that allows Rentlogic to wring a profit out of its system.

The answer:

The first step, Fox said, is building an audience of apartment-hunters who depend on the service. Then he plans to sell landlords tools to help them market apartments—while persuading renters that he can manage the conflicts inherent in selling landlords services with one hand while checking their bad behavior with the other.

If I put an investor hat on — user acquisition costs for a rental portal such as RentLogic worry me. How will the site make enough money to offset that? I worry someone with massive traffic/reach — aka StreetEasy in NYC — will rip this feature off and go get all the public data themselves. I worry how apartment ratings will play out outside of extremely expensive markets like NYC, San Francisco, and London. I also worry about the fragmented datasets across cities in need of collection and aggregation (such as the fact some data sets would not exist for some cities).

That said, IF they can figure all that out — I certainly see a renter win in making this data transparent. Where there is a renter win, there is renter traffic growth potential.

 

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • Andrew Weinberger

    This is one of those things that would be great to have as it would certainly improve the UX of most rental sites, but it’s a very difficult thing to do.
    It’s also something that many other companies have tried so it’s not really a unique idea. Cityspade in NYC had a more or less identical idea (and now they’re pretty much dead). If you want useful building reviews and information there are already many options out there such as apartmentratings.com, Yelp and addressreport.com.
    Honestly, the only way you could really get something like this to work is by marrying good data in a nice format (like what address report offers) with genuine reviews (as you’d find on yelp or apartmentratings) and even then it’s not really something that you can easily monetize. And getting the ratings themselves is not an easy thing either.

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