Finding an apartment rental in Philly can be a challenging process. Browsing through numerous ads on Craigslist and other sites can take time, and doesn't always pay off.
"It's really painful to find an apartment for rent; landlords don't have a lot of tools when they want to find great tenants, and it's usually a time-consuming and expensive experience for consumers," said Ishay Grinberg, whose solution was to create the website Rental Beast in Boston in 2009.
Grinberg set up Rental Beast much the way Zillow and Trulia provide listings for buyers. Rental Beast connects landlords and tenants through an agent, a feature that many other apartment-hunting websites don't have.
While the site is free for its users, Rental Beast is supported by large brokerages who partner with the company for access to its inventory. When a property is leased through the site, the brokerages provide a portion of the broker free.
Grinberg expanded Rental Beast to Philly last month. Below is an excerpt from a Q&A with Grinberg about the recent launch:
Q: What makes Rental Beast stand out from other rental websites?
A: While other sites offer aggregated listings, Rental Beast provides a holistic experience for both landlords and tenants – from the first "click" to the signed lease, ensuring landlords get highly qualified tenants. With an experienced network of brokers adept at matching the right property with the right people, Rental Beast arms these local experts with the data and insights they need to connect landlords with qualified tenants.
Q: Why did you decide to expand in Philly?
A: Philadelphia is a natural city for us to expand to and has similar market dynamics to Boston. There's been a steady growth in inventory and an increase in demand for rental apartments, brought on by the growing number of millennials living in and moving to Philadelphia.
Q: How can both a tenant and landlord can start using your site?
A: Prospective tenants can search for property listings on Rental Beast. If they see something they like, they can create an account that will connect them with a local broker trained to guide them through the rental process and help them find the best apartment to suit their needs.
Landlords and property managers looking to list through Rental Beast can also create an account that allows them to post their properties which our Rental Beast team vets. Additionally, it gives them access to leading experts who can then advise them on everything from how to competitively price units, find high quality tenants, set up a successful lease, and more.
Q: How many apartment listings are there in Philly?
A: We have access to over 200k listings in the Greater Philadelphia area. And as more landlords are listing their vacancies with Rental Beast for free, the database in Philly is growing rapidly at a pace of 22 percent month over month.
Q: Where else in the country do you hope to expand?
A: We recently opened an office in Chicago and plan to expand further in 2015 in Washington D.C. and other several other major metropolitan markets – but more to come about that in a few months.