Ever since the rise of Craigslist, frustrated New York City renters have wondered why more landlords don't just advertise their vacancies directly to tenants, bypassing rental brokers and their hefty fees.
Today marks the launch of UrbanEdgeNY.com, a free Web site that aims to help building owners do just that. Imagine a listings search engine (a la StreetEasy) dedicated to no-fee rental listings posted directly by landlords, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what UrbanEdge is trying to accomplish.
There's no cost for owners to list their apartments or for renters to search. No broker listings are allowed, and listings over two weeks old are removed from the site. Is this a rental revolution? Perhaps!
We'll have to keep an eye on the quality control (and keeping those pesky brokers out), but so far the quantity of listings right at the start looks fairly robust. According to UrbanEdge, "hundreds of major landlords are already posting on the site," and many listings have apartment photos that on the surface don't appear to be the usual bait-and-switch shenanigans that plague most online rental hunts.
One immediate drawback: At the moment, only Manhattan can be searched neighborhood-by-neighborhood.
Another toy to play around with: The Twitter streams, one account for each apartment size in each neighborhood (you can find links to all of them on this page). Every day at 4 p.m., UrbanEdge says it will tweet all new availabilities to hit the market that day in those categories. "Contact the owner immediately to set up an apartment viewing and get the good deal."
So what's in it for UrbanEdge? The plan is to make money on the landlords. Listing apartments is free, but the site offers "value-added, fee-based services" to property owners including "syndication of listings on other real estate sites, Web site development, advertising campaigns, signage design and other marketing functions." Is this what renters have been not-so-patiently waiting for? Have a look and discuss.