Traditional apartment-finder sources, such as classified ads, apartment locators and apartment-finder guides, are being tossed aside as new Internet-based listing services (ILS) like Rent.com hit the market.
After an extensive rollout over the past three years, Santa Monica, CA-based Rent.com is currently active in more than 1,300 cities across the United States, including Raleigh, Charlotte and Atlanta. It currently has more than 15,000 properties listed that encompass more than 3.3 million-rental units across the country.
Locally, Rent.com has more than 200 properties in the Raleigh-Durham area for a total of approximately 53,000 units with an average rental rate of about $660 each. The site also serves other N.C. cities, including Wilmington, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Asheville.
Launched in 2001 by two public apartment REIT executives … Scott Ingraham and Allan Hunter … Rent.com was created from their experience in operating a 16,000-unit apartment portfolio in Nevada, Colorado and California. The ILS offers a pay-for performance/reward-based business model and emphasizes search experience for renters.
Rent.com’s service is free to renters and rewards them with $100 when a lease is finalized. The service also doesn’t cost apartment owners anything until Rent.com provides them with a finalized lease transaction and a move-in check from the renter.
“Rent.com is a unique ILS for both renters and property owners with several unique value propositions–,” said Ingraham. “Owners close a higher percentage of Rent.com leads than from other sources because our renters actually register with us, are more vested in the renting process and emerge as better qualified prospects. Owners only pay us if we are successful; out of fresh cash revenue from their new resident.”
Nielsen//NetRatings has identified Rent.com as one of the top three online ILS services…and Rent.com is currently the top intermediary in the nation in terms of producing verifiable lease transactions. The online research firm also found that, of all the ILS services dedicated solely to apartment listings, more people spent more time at Rent.com than any other site measured.
“We’ve come a long way in two years and four months since we launched the Rent.com brand name and our new business model,” says Ingraham. “The company’s strong leasing volume, profitability and presence in more than 1,300 cities nationwide serves as evidence that the unique Rent.com business model has been embraced by the apartment industry.”
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the nation’s 34 million renter households include some 22 million multi-family apartment homes and about 12 million houses, condos, townhouses or duplexes. Based upon median rental data, this market represents more than $340 billion in lease revenues annually. Nationally, there are 14-15 million new leases signed each year and a growing percentage of these leases are now emanating from an Internet search.
“We estimate that well over a million apartment leases per year are emanating from this new property-finding media that literally didn’t exist just a few years ago,” said Ingraham. “The percentage of renters that are now using the web as their first method of finding an apartment has risen almost ten-fold over the past six years and this trend is likely to continue for several more years.”