Although it may not seem like it, the weather has started to heat up and so is the New York City rental market. Soon the city will be flooded by hundreds of interns and new hires looking for a place to call home. As many New Yorkers head out of the city for long weekends or extended business trips, this new incoming class of wanna-bes will be trying to find an apartment. Apartments in New York are few and far between just to being with. As a real estate professional, I not only take out clients to find apartments, but also am constantly being asked questions relating to finding roommates, sublet and other miscellaneous tasks most other agents brush aside.
The biggest part about this job is being able to stick with it during the first few years, especially while you build up your social spheres and referral networks. A great way to build up your future business is by going the extra mile and really helping those people out who cannot afford a broker's fee, aren't looking for a full year lease, or rented a larger apartment in hopes of finding an extra roommate. This comes in addition to gym partnerships, dry cleaning discounts, as well as cable, phone, and Internet hook-ups.
Most brokers are more concerned with getting your money in their pocket and moving on to the next deal, while I have researched these outlets and have come back with some great ideas to help make finding a roommate or sublease a tad bit easier.
For starters, there is Craigslist. I am always hesitant about using this site due to volume, authenticity issues and overall safety. Posts for roommates or room offerings are a dime a dozen, especially when considering the number of ads put up by a single individual. Anyone can apply for these apartments and put on a good front, but how do you really know if they will make a solid roommate? The coin can be flipped for those renting, making sure that they are not going to get ripped off by someone trying to sublet a room for way more than it is actually worth, those posting a fake ad, or even those just looking for a bigger scam in general. Craigslist does have a positive side, but overall I feel as if there needs to be a specialized service to really help these clients out.
The most valid source I came across is a start-up by a current Baruch senior who has gone through similar issues previously described on Craigslist. RoomMatchers takes the whole Craigslist idea and pushes it one step forward. Users looking for room and those offering a room create a user profiles. The website allows those to filter their searches between price, location, as well as other criteria in the user profile. It is this specialization that really attracted me to Roommatchers. The website also uses algorithmic data to search through the hundreds of Craigslist ads, then matches verified and reputable ads and sends them to you. This website takes all that is beneficial with the Craigslist process, brings it to you as a user, and then supplies you with their own compatibility charts as well. The majority of the users are not looking to rip people off, they are simply in the same boat as everyone else. Users are tech savvy, members of the digital age, and ready to find the apartment that meets their needs.
The site was launched last year and has really started to take off. The free service is seeing an average of 50-100 signups a day and expects that number to swell as the busy season sets in. Not only that, but the company is looking to expand into the Los Angeles market come September, a rather untapped source of new signups. I recommend that my clients use this site when they are looking for an extra roommate or just looking to find an extra room due to the success of previous referrals. We are living in a world of specialization, why be a little fish in a big pond, when you could be the opposite? This site allows users to not only interact with their potential roommates, but it allows those looking for a room to interact with those they may eventually be living with. Having worked in the Internet start-up business before, I am excited to see what is to come for this website!