Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.
We’ve already taken a look at some of the best apps for home and work from 2012, which helped surface the likes of Lovely, a, erm, lovely iOS app to help you find your dream apartment.
Now with 2013 well underway, we’ve just gotten wind of RoomHunt, which is setting out to ease the hassles of renting apartments and finding roommates.
Launching in open beta today for San Francisco only, RoomHunt is looking to roll out in “every metropolitan city in the United States,” but where it’s striving to set itself apart from the competition, is the way it taps social to help you find the ideal place to live.
Indeed, RoomHunt seeks to match potential roommates on everything from demographics, to shared interests in sports. Its top-line pitch is an “eHarmony for rooming.”
When you click on any apartment, hit “Find Roommates,” and RoomHunt then taps Facebook Connect to reel in friends, and friends-of-friends, who are currently in the market for the same kind of property, in the same neighborhood. Indeed, the friends-of-friends element is vital here, as that opens up the potential exponentially.
In terms of where RoomHunt gets its accommodation data from, well, it’s launching in cahoots with Craigslist, and all its data will be gleaned through the API of other accommodation rental sites. Instead of being “another proprietary inventory solution,” RoomHunt aggregates other sites’ listings, and standardizes the information.
Indeed, if the eHarmony comparison’s not enough, RoomHunt is also trying to be the “Kayak of real estate rentals,” as the company puts it. It serves up listings in 37 San Francisco neighborhoods for launch, and we’re told it’s looking to grow its “strategic partners” continuously.
In terms of costs, well, everything is free for both tenants and landlords, and the tricky monetization obstacle will be circumvented in the future through add-on services, such as credit scores, utilities (phone, Internet, cable) and so on.
“In the hottest rental markets, three variables have to come together at all once—neighborhood, price and a suitable roommate,” explains David Weisburd, CEO of RoomHunt. “And no-one is making it easy. Renters need a single site that showcases all the best properties in an easy manner. Landlords need a way to find responsible and qualified renters without being charged an arm and a leg.”
After moving to San Francisco several years ago, Weisburd began looking at ways to solve this problem after facing it first-hand. So, he assembled a team and began building a platform geared towards helping both sides of the rental process.
While no user ID or registration is required to browse, naturally you do have to connect with Facebook for what is fundamentally a social platform.
Indeed, it would be interesting to see what other features they could reel in here, for example, the UK’s Adzuna recently launched Friend Map, which lets users ask Facebook friends where they should live based on where they have lived or where they regularly check-in. I reckon such a feature would work well on something like RoomHunt.
RoomHunt is live now for San Francisco apartment-hunters, with more cities coming on board in due course. New York City is apparently next up in early Q3 2013, with the rest of the country on its radar by early 2014.
Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock
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