Apartment hunting sucks. There’s no two ways about it. And while tools like PadMapper are making such searches slightly less painful, few have done a really great job of aggregating data about what it’s actually like to live in a place. Enter RentSocial — which will let renters leave feedback about the places where they live, providing potential tenants with valuable new tools for learning about apartment buildings they’re interested in.
RentSocial works by connecting with a user’s social graph through Facebook Connect, allowing users to share apartments that they’re looking at with friends and potential roommates. More importantly, potential renters will be able to read reviews and find out more about the properties they’re considering, based on information that current tenants share. RentSocial provides users with more transparent data, improving their ability to compare locations before they choose where to move.
As for current tenants — what do they get out of it, and why would they choose to continue going to RentSocial once they’ve already picked a spot? Well, the site will encourage return visitors by giving them tools to pay their rent and to submit maintenance requests through the system.
The platform also lets tenants see others in their building who have connected with RentSocial, which could help develop a sense of community within a given building — especially in big metropolitan markets where tenants often don’t know one another. RentSocial also provides a private messaging platform between friends and neighbors, which could help foster a more open and friendly environment in many buildings, and subsequently reduce tenant turnover.
RentSocial was built by Yield Technologies, a maker of apartment marketing software that it sells to property management companies. It’s also the creator of RentSentinel.com, which helps those property managers list, publish, manage and get feedback on their buildings from tenants. In that respect, RentSocial is really just the inverse of software they’ve already built.
As a result, RentSocial is coming to market with eight of the top 10 property management companies in the U.S. Combined, it will have a total of 1.5 million units as part of the system at launch. That’s impressive, but RentSocial still needs to get users on board — both new renters and tenants that already live in the buildings that RentSocial connects with. Without those users connecting, the platform won’t be very social — or very useful.