Category Archives: Rental News

Primedia Changes Name to RentPath

Primedia, the owner of rental sites including ApartmentGuide, rent.com, Rentals.com, RentalHouses.com and New Home Guide has changed their corporate name from Primedia to RentPath.

rentpath

 

 

For over 35 years, Haas Publishing, Consumer Source, and PRIMEDIA have helped renters find a rental through various offline and online publications. The name change is “to reflect the new company we have become, and to further position ourselves as the leader in the industry, we are changing our corporate name to RentPath, Inc. ” says Jehane F. Gray, Procurement Director for RentPath.

 

Zillow Launches Spanish Speaking Support for Rentals App

Zillow, today announced their entry into the Spanish language market within the US with their Android rentals app in Spanish.

Zillow SpanishThe Hispanic and Latino population is growing at four time the pace of the national population. This demographic is also adopting smartphones more rapidly than other segments of the population.

“With this launch, Zillow is broadening its reach to become the trusted real estate resource for the ever-growing Spanish-speaking community in the U.S. With rental markets becoming increasingly competitive, it’s particularly important for all renters to have instant access to tools that can help them track the newest listings and contact landlords anytime, anywhere,” said David Vivero, vice president of rentals at Zillow. “The Zillow Rentals App is the only dedicated rentals app that enables Spanish speakers to have easy, on-the-go access to important tools and information in their native language when they’re making important real estate decisions.”

Like the English version of the app, shoppers using the Zillow Rentals app in Spanish can quickly begin their search with Android’s voice search capabilities, by using GPS, by typing a specific location or by drawing one or more search boundaries on the map. Renters can further narrow their search by pet policy and, new with this release, laundry and parking preferences.

This is definitely the first step in giving all renters, sellers and buyers, in all languages and in all countries access to real estate information in their area. Internationalization will inevitably follow.

Providence Mall Converting into Micro Apartments

An interesting way to help a dilapidated mall is to convert it into apartment units. One of the oldest malls in Providence, RI is turning into just that. It will consist of 2 floors, one for apartment units and one for retail space. The original structure was built in 1828 as the nation’s first enclosed shopping mall. In 1976 it became a National Historic Landmark but due to the economic down-turn it has turned into empty space.

Providence Mall ApartmentsA model of the Arcade’s new micro-units. (Courtesy of Evan Granoff/Arcade Providence

There will be 39 micro units. The apartment units will be between 225 and 450 sq ft which works nicely with the mall’s 1828 design.


Micro Apartments. (Courtesy of Evan Granoff/Arcade Providence)


Micro Apartments. (Courtesy of Evan Granoff/Arcade Providence)

The price of the rental units will be around $550 per month but will come pre-installed with beds, storage and full baths. The one downside is there is no stove but plenty of restaurants on the first floor where these residents can purchase take-in. Very creative use of the space to say the least.

 

Trulia Files with SEC to Potentially Raise Another $100 Million

trulia

Trulia, the marketplace for home buyers and renters, has registered with the SEC for a proposed offering to sell additional shares of their common stock. Trulia is proposing to sell approximately $100 Million worth of shares.

The net proceeds would be used for working capital and general corporate purposes including using some or all of the net proceeds to acquire or invest in complementary businesses, products, services, technologies, or other assets.

Trulia is growing rapidly and had a record quarter in Q4. In Q1 of 2013 Trulia anticipates revenue to be in the range of $20.8 to $21.2 million, exceeding analyst estimates of $19.2 million.

Airbnb Lands Ex-Zappos COO Alfred Lin

Airbnb

Airbnb, the very popular community marketplace for rental properties has announced that  Alfred Lin, the previous COO of Zappos.com, will be joining Airbnb’s board of directors. In  2011 Alfred considered leaving Sequoia Capital to join Airbnb but now he can help take Airbnb to the next service, revenue and product level by contributing on the Airbnb board.

Airbnb raised over $100 Million in 2011 at a $1 billion valuation and is rumored to be in the process of raising more funds valuing the company at North of $2.5 Billion. Airbnb has continued to grow traffic, rental inventory and revenue by launching into new countries and adding additional services.

The company launched in 2008 and has grown significantly during that time period. They book more nights now than the top hotel chains in the World. They have over 300,000 listings worldwide in over 33,000 cities and 192 countries. So far, they have over 10 million nights booked.

It is inevitable that Airbnb will go public. Most likely this will occur end of 2013 or sometime in 2014.

Apartments.com First Mover in ILS Apartment Reviews

Apartments.com Apartment ReviewsRich Barton, the founder of Expedia and Zillow developed the Power of the People Laws. He says, “If it can be known it will be known” and “If it can be rated, it will be rated.”

We are starting to see this develop within the apartment rental space. Apartments.com is the first large apartment search site to offer apartment reviews. In the past, renters could only search for properties and would have to go to a separate site like Yelp or ApartmentRatings to view the reviews of the property.

The goal of having reviews on the apartments.com site is to ensure renters have all of the information they need before making a decision. Apartments.com also wants to keep these renters on their site increasing the likelihood of lead conversions. Providing more information and value to the renter, will inevitably lead to a higher quality site, more traffic, and more advertising dollars.

Apartment Reviews

Historically, ILSs (Internet Listing Services) have not participated in offering reviews because in some cases negative reviews can cause advertising dollars to leave the site. However, according to Chris Brown, the VP of Product Management at Apartments.com, “the average product rating worldwide is 4.3 stars out of 5, and 80% are four to five stars. On Yelp.com, across all categories, the average rating is 3.8….The propensity to post a review when happy or satisfied with a product or service is higher than the propensity to flame”

The average rating on Apartments.com is 4. Seventy two percent of reviews are 4 or 5 stars and 15% are one or two. The 15% that are 1 or 2 is a good opportunity for the apartment communities to engage in the conversation and address the renter’s needs. This reflects in a positive manner for those other renters reading the reviews.

ratings-distributionThe apartment search market is changing. The future of apartment search is upon us and I expect all of the major ILSs to offer apartment reviews, either collected on their own or collected from 3rd parties within the next 12 to 24 months. “If it can be known it will be known” and “If it can be rated, it will be rated.”

Rental Scams on the Rise

rental scams in the United States.

rental scams in the United States.

Rental Scams in the United States are on the rise. According to RentalScams.org and Google Trends, rental scams are at the highest level ever. The top 5 leading search terms on Google relating to rental scams are Craigslist Scams, Craigslist rental scams, vacation rental scams, scams on Craigslist and rental apartment scams.

As the rental market continues to rise, rental scams tend to increase as well. One of the most common rental scams is:

The fake rental listing scam

A legitimate listing is copied off of Craigslist and reposted with the rental price significantly lower than the real price. An interested renter contacts the “property owner” asking for more information. The scammer, usually always via email, responds saying they are away on business out of the country but if the renter sends a cashiers check the scammer will send keys to the property so the renter can tour. If the renter does not like the property, they can contact the scammer, return the keys, and the scammer will give the money back.

If the ‘property manager, ‘owner’ or ‘agent’ is asking for a security deposit or cashiers check prior to seeing the property and you have never met them, it most likely is a scam. Some other signs of a potential scam can be found in the email correspondence.

Dissecting a potential Rental Scam email

  • Does the email start out with Sir / Madam?
  • Are there misspellings in the email?
  • Are there character mistakes in the email? i.e Hello,my nameis Susie.
  • Is there excessive capitalization?
  • Does the email reference God, UK, Cashiers Check, Doctor, Nigeria, Reverend, etc.
  • Is the email from a free email provider. i.e gmail, yahoo, aol, hotmail.
  • Does the email refer to another person or agent?
  • Does the email reference wanting to move in site unseen?
  • Does the signature state they are a Reverend, Dr, Lawyer or CEO?

If the rental property price or description sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you think you have been scammed, you can file a complaint with FTC but there is very little they can do since many of these scams occur outside of the US in Nigeria and the UK.