METRO NEW YORK - Apartment Search-Schlep
REAL ESTATE. Thanks to a new Web site designed to improve the rental experience and eliminate the middleman, apartment hunters have a new option when it comes to hiring a broker and paying extravagant fees.
The Web site Urban SherpaNY.com was launched at the end of October by Michael Jacobs and Peter Hungerford and now features more than 2,000 active listings in Manhattan. It connects a prospective tenant directly with building owners and supers — not a broker. The only thing the tenant needs to do is to decide on what kind of apartment they are looking for. Search criteria include price, size, location and amenities of the apartment.
Jacobs and Hungerford said they created this site to end the growing dissatisfaction with renters in the housing market. Their site, they claim, is better than Craigslist because the latter almost always hooks the tenant up with a broker and the postings are often misleading. “We are trying to create a more transparent and more efficient marketplace,” said Jacobs. “We want to give the user as much end knowledge as possible.”
Renters can enter the site, type in what they are looking for and press the search button. Listings come up that put the prospective tenant in contact with the owner, and it is up to the tenant to set up a time to view the apartment. Jacobs said that 90 to 95 percent of the listings connect the tenant directly with the owner.
Some listings still require a broker, however. Those are included so that the site can have the most complete listing possible, say the founders. The additional info can still come in handy, even if a fee will be involved; there are stats about how long the apartment has been on the market, when and if it’s been renovated, and historical information about the building and information about the landlord.
“Our No.1 goal is to be the first place any apartment hunter goes to start their search,” said Hungerford. He said he hopes the site educates the consumer on what is out there.
UrbanSherpaNY.com plans to expand to include apartment listings in outer boroughs in the upcoming months, and plans are in the works for a similar site to develop in 2008 for Boston and San Francisco.