Finding a home isn’t just about what is in between its four walls — location also makes a huge difference.
Real estate startup RentalRoost launched nationwide today, with a new focus on helping renters figure out which neighborhoods suit their needs.
“Think of us as an eHarmony for rentals,” cofounder and CEO Nitin Shingate told VentureBeat. “Imagine how much more efficient your searches will be when you look beyond the usual criteria of bedrooms, bathrooms, and price. When you’re trying to find a place to live, isn’t that what actually matters?”
RentalRoost offers lifestyle-based search criteria. The engine combines your expressed preferences with social media data and “geo-location scoring algorithms” to figure out which lifestyle factors are most important to you and recommend homes and neighborhoods that suit those needs.
Today it unveiled its school-based search, where renters can select a school and see which properties fall within that district. Parents can also pick a property and see which district it falls in. RentalRoost partnered with GreatSchools to provide school ratings along with the listings.
RentalRoost also added an off campus housing search tool. College students can research properties by their proximity to over 9,000 public and private campuses, so they know how far that walk with a heavy backpack will be.
The site’s other lifestyle filters include kid-friendliness, transit options, dining, shopping, arts, and pet friendliness, as well as traditional criteria like price and number of bedrooms.
I tried searching for properties in San Francisco’s Mission. Some of the filters weren’t working, but the scores for walkability, schools, shopping, etc. were useful.
RentalRoost also provides detailed demographic information about neighborhoods, so people can look at charts with data about martial status, household income, occupations, gender breakdown, and even academic achievement.
Searching for an apartment sucks and there are a number of tech companies aiming to make it easier. In addition to RentalRoost, there are the big guys like Rent.com Zillow, Trulia, and Craigslist, as well as a slew of younger companies like ApartmentList, Urban Compass, RoomHunt, Padmapper, Zumper, and Cozy.
It is a crowded and competitive market, and the newcomers try to distinguish themselves with special features and specific focuses.
ApartmentList and RoomHunt have options for roommate hunting, and Cozy and Zumper help realtors and landlords streamline their listing process by enabling online applications and appointments. Urban Compass assigns an actual human to meet you at apartment viewings and offer helpful advice about neighborhoods.
RentalRoost aims to carve out a niche by helping with neighborhood search, as well as housing search.
The company launched its pilot in the Bay Area in September and is now available throughout the U.S., although it has the highest volume of listings in Las Vegas, Houston, Jacksonville, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Chicago, Tucson, Orlando, Columbus, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.
RentalRoost’s “sister site” Houserie provides a tenant screening service for landlords.
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