In our latest real estate tech entrepreneur interview, we’re speaking with the founder Andrew Weinberger of LeaseHop.
Without further ado…
What do you do?
I’m Andrew and I’m the founder of LeaseHop. LeaseHop is a NYC based real estate marketplace that is focused on improving the way you find your next home. I wear a lot of different hats so on any given day I could be working on anything from product to marketing to sales to fundraising.
What problem does your product/service solve?
Your average consumer doesn’t typically enjoy the process of searching for a new home. This just goes to show that the current “zillow model” of aggregating everything with little to no quality control doesn’t work. We believe that searching for a new home should be something exciting and much more enjoyable than it currently is. If you think about it, a lot of people searching for homes are upgrading, trading up, or are moving to new, exciting places. Searching for a home shouldn’t be the painful process it currently is. We’re focused on improving the process by offering better data, a better UX, and by catering to specific niches that aren’t well served.
Here’s how we do this…
- Better Data – This is quite tricky in NYC as there’s no MLS and brokerages use various CMS’s to distribute listings. To solve this we aggregate listings, verify them, and then bundle duplicates before displaying them, all to improve the UX. Currently we receive around 35,000 listings each day and accept just shy of 90% of them (10% aren’t accepted as they don’t meet our standards or are deceptive). Our algorithm then identifies similar/duplicate listings and packages them together to create approximately 13,000 listings. We look at things like source, agent reputation, description quality, and photo quality when deciding which listing to feature in each bundle. This results in better, more accurate listings being showcased.
- Better UX – In a lot of ways better UX starts with better data, but that’s only scratching the surface. Most real estate sites aren’t all that intuitive. In cities like New York you have major UX issues even with something as simple as map search or neighborhood filters as they can be very confusing for users that are new/unfamiliar with the city. Another huge UX issues comes from the “zillow model” which has always been focused on selling leads. And that’s done in a way that creates a really poor UX. If you’re looking to buy a place for example, you go on zillow and send an inquiry that is directed to a broker that has bought that lead- this is typically a broker that has never set foot on that property and knows nothing about it so if you call that broker to inquire about the property you’ll probably end up dealing with something like “Hi, Andrew, I’d love to give you more info on this property, but I’m in a meeting right now so could you please give me the listing ID and confirm that this is the best number to reach you at and I’ll call you back shortly”. The broker then frantically tries to reach the listing broker to get more info, etc. We don’t sell leads and every listing on LeaseHop has been created by the agent or person posting it.
- Catering to various niches – We’re very interested in offering better solutions for niche markets that are underserved. Sublets and roommates are two prime examples and we try to offer end to end solutions for both. We’re one of the few sites where you can effectively market a sublet or lease break, and we’re also one of the first sites to offer a true end to end roommate apartment search. You can not only find a room or roommate on Leasehop, but you can find a roommate and an apartment all in one place. Most roommate sites just serve as matchmaking sites and users have to then navigate to other sites to find apartments, whereas you can do it all on LeaseHop.
What are you most excited about right now?
I’m very exciting about AR and VR. There’s just so much potential there. A few examples: Displaying listings in VR or 360 (which I think is more practical than VR as it doesn’t require a headset) offers a really cool and immersive user experience; or uploading a 3D product catalog for a company like ikea or herman miller and then letting users use the LeaseHop app to drop that furniture into an apartment they’re viewing. The applications are endless and I see VR/AR and 360 photo/video really changing the way people interact with real estate apps.
What’s next for you?
We’ve been growing very quickly since we launched last month so our main focus right now is on improving our core product, getting more listings, and providing users with more data (by integrating various API’s & aggregating more property data from sources like ACRIS, yelp, great schools, etc). Getting into the sales market is also something that we’re interested in doing and that’s become more of a priority in recent weeks due to the situation that’s unfolding in NYC with brokerages trying to resist zillow/streeteasy’s recent changes. Last week REBNY announced that they’d start offering a direct feed that a number of large firms have already opted into. This is huge for us as it means we wouldn’t have to onboard firms one at a time and it would make it much easier to offer a competitive marketplace
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
Now this is a dangerous question. Politics has always been a passion of mine and I’m best described as a libertarian so many of my beliefs are probably quite polarizing. That being said I’ll chose one that deserves more attention than its getting, and that is Agriculture Reform. If you look at a lot of the issues we’re having in this country, things like the rising cost of healthcare, etc, a lot can be solved simply by changing your average diet. This is also one of the very few places where government intervention is appropriate, as the meat, dairy, and pharma industries have enormous influence and have made it almost impossible for the average consumer to make good decisions about what to buy and eat. Increasing regulations and even taxing these industries would achieve a lot of good namely 1) improving peoples diet and lowering rates of obesity and related diseases (heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc); 2) better quality products; 3) making these industries more humane/improving the quality of life of farm animals; 4) reducing damage to the environment caused by these industries.
Thanks to Andrew for sharing his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop me a line (drew @ geekestatelabs dot com).