Recently I caught up with the Alex Lubinsky CEO of Rentberry, the app that allows a tenant to place a bid on a property to let! Cool idea?
Having landed a £1m+ investment recently, they’re making waves in the US and are coming to our shores (and every other English speaking countries') anytime soon, so the tech focused CEO Alex Lubinsky told me.
In fact, when I first e-mailed him to arrange a convenient time to Skype, it was 2:30 AM his time (like I checked) and he came back straight away and said let’s do it now! Oh ok let’s, I was at London Bridge station, so we did it!
With near on 60,000 users across the US and 97% MoM growth by the end of this month (April 2017) and the fact that there are ‘tenants frustrated with lack of control’, the main message is that ‘tenants can save money’ and that the landlord gets a better qualified/best fitting tenant for their property. Anyway, it’s new, it’s a different concept and actually, we think it has legs. We are aware of one other similar site based in the UK launching soon.
Q: What does it say on your business card?
Co-founder and CEO of Rentberry.
Q: Who are your partners?
I founded Rentberry with Lily Ostapchuk (CPO) and Aleksey Perfilov (CTO). We met each other years ago, and I’m glad that we all share the same vision of the company’s future. It makes the entire working process seamless and dynamic.
Q: How long has Rentberry been on the market?
We launched in May 2016. Initially, the platform covered Los Angeles and New York City only. Since that moment, we’ve managed to expand nationwide, and we already consider further expansion to major English-speaking countries.
Q: How did it all start?
At different stages of my life, I had a first-hand experience of both renting and managing properties. It helped me realize that the entire system of long-term rent was broken. Hefty fees, secret bidding wars, and tiresome paperwork were all an inherent part of this world, and it had to be fixed in some way. While I obviously could not put a stop to all the problems at once, I knew how to address at least one of them. So I founded Rentberry, the only platform with a transparent system of custom offers and 100% paperless rental experience (we’ve managed to build a platform covering all possible rental tasks from property search to rental payments to maintenance requests).
Q: Why choose Rentberry?
If you value time and money, you choose Rentberry. Not only will you save effort by completing all rental tasks online, but you will also be sure that you rent or rent out at a fair market price.
Q: What are your three unique selling points?
1) A 100% paperless rental experience.
2) Transparency of a rental application process: we let tenants see the current demand for properties they like and make educated offers to landlords based on this information.
3) Affordability. We don’t charge landlords $3000 per year like Appfolio or similar property management software, and we don’t ask tenants to pay for each application they sent (which is a common practice in this industry). Instead, we only charge tenants a $25 success fee once they secure a property.
Q: Who do you currently work with?
To make rental experience 100% paperless, we partnered with a number of top American companies. We teamed up with Dwolla, so our users can securely pay and collect rent online. We collaborated with HelloSign to make it possible to e-sign rental agreements. Also our landlords can screen tenants online without the need to leave the platform.
Q: How do you overcome your competitors?
The answer is simple: we don’t have to do this. As long as no other company offers such a transparent and seamless rental experience as Rentberry, we can focus on building and improving our platform without the need to worry about competition.
Q: How do you create value for your clients (how do you go above the call of duty)?
We offer more features for less money. Is there a better way to create value? We charge tenants a $25 success fee once they secure a property. In the future, we might be charging landlords too, but only those with more than 3 income properties.
And here is what we offer in return.
- List & syndicate property listings to 9 partner platforms.
- Screen prospective tenant (credit score & background check).
- Select most quality applicants based on their custom offers and application.
- E-sign rental agreements.
- Collect rent & deal with maintenance requests online.
- Search for properties and filter them by location, price, and more than 20 other amenities.
- See the demand for properties you like & make educated offers to landlords.
- E-sign rental agreements.
- Pay rent & split payments with your roommates.
- Make maintenance requests online.
Q: What is your greatest achievement and what made it so special?
Since the first day of its existence, our company was on the mission of bringing transparency and convenience to the rental industry. Today, less than one year since our launch, we’re happy to see that Rentberry saved tenants on average 5.1%. It means that the idea of custom offers works, and landlords do accept lower custom offers from tenants. It’s our greatest achievement so far, and we expect things to get even better for both parties of the rental process in the future.
Q: What do you feel it takes to be successful in the industry?
All it takes is to detect the major bottleneck of the industry and create a quality product to address it. This is exactly how Rentberry was built. We realized that the rental industry in the US lacked transparency - and that’s why we created a platform allowing tenants to see the current demand for properties and make educated offers to landlords.
Q: If Rentberry saves tenants money, why should landlords like it too?
Unlike other companies on the market, Rentberry is the meeting point and negotiation room for landlords and tenants. Apart from offering a ‘one-stop shop’ rental experience for both parties, it also encourages flexibility of rental prices. And, depending on circumstances, this flexibility favors either landlord or tenant.
Let’s say there is a tenant with a high credit score, spotless credit history, and willingness to sign a lease for more than two years. This tenant makes an offer that is $50 lower than the initial price, and plenty of landlords will accept it because it’s a good deal on both ends. While the landlord gets a quality tenant and a lease for two years (which means no vacancy rates for this period), the tenant gets a better monthly price.
On the other hand, there are situations when a young person, maybe a recent college grad, can boast neither a high credit score nor a good recommendation from a former landlord. Under the circumstances, this tenant might place a higher offer to compensate the weak spots in their application. This way, the landlord gets an opportunity to make more money, while the tenant gets a chance to qualify for a property that would otherwise be out of reach.