The Market

Cool Stuff: RentJolt gives renters a piece of the broker pie

By Lucy Cohen Blatter | January 27, 2012 - 12:45PM 

Many if not most NYC renters wind up paying a broker fee ranging from one month's rent to 15% of a year's rent when signing a lease on a new apartment. Find your next apartment through RentJolt, an online apartment marketplace that launched its beta version last weekend, and you'll pay 5.75% of a year's rent.

If you list your soon-to-be-former apartment and find a renter through the site, you'll get paid $500 to $1,000 (or about 1.75% of a year's rent). CEO Avi Dorfman says he hopes to increase that amount in coming months.

Posting an apartment is free. You just include photos, a description and your current rent up to 8 months before you plan to move. (RentJolt calculates an "Expected Rent" by increasing the current rent by 8 percent.) 

You schedule showings of your apartment, and once a prospective renter hits the Apply Now button, RentJolt's broker-partner steps in, approaching the landlord when all of the application fees and documents needed to apply for the apartment are together.

Dorfman was careful to point out to us that unlike defunct NYC real estate site, which also crowd-sourced listings, RentJolt does not act as a brokerage itself, facilitating transactions rather than actively finding apartments or tenants: "We think of ourselves more along the lines of an AirBnB," he says.

InsideDigs, a one-year-old semi-competitor to RentJolt, also attempts to connect would-be renters to apartments that haven't officially hit the market yet.

Unlike RentJolt, InsideDigs does not pay existing tenants or charge prospective renters, nor does InsideDigs involve a broker in the transaction or collect a fee itself. Instead, apartment seekers are encouraged to deal directly with the management company or landlord. 

RentJolt launched last weekend and, as of now, has only four apartment listings--all in Manhattan.

Dorfman tells CurbedNY that it hopes to get a big boost in listings when this year's college seniors get ready to leave their apartments this spring. 

Manhattan and Brooklyn are expected to be RentJolt's core demographic.


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