Moving to a new city can be a daunting proposition and especially so if that city is New York City. Every year, Stern’s new MBA class must navigate the challenging rental market and find a place to live.
Fortunately for new students there is VeryApt, a start-up that aims to help streamline the apartment hunting process and make moving to a new city easy. VeryApt provides free resources for apartment seekers, providing information and services in cities across the country. VeryApt has partnered with Stern Admissions to provide these resources to Stern students.
VeryApt was founded by a pair of University of Pennsylvania Wharton MBA students four years ago when they realized that incoming students weren’t sure where they should move. Scott Bierbryer and Ashrit Kamireddi put together and distributed a housing questionnaire to all Wharton students, asking them about the quality of their apartment, neighborhood, and more. The founders then took the information, compiled the relevant statistics, and distributed it across the student body in an easy to read guide.
The guide proved to be a big hit with Wharton students, and VeryApt was born. VeryApt has evolved since the initial survey, providing comprehensive services related to apartment hunting in various cities. In addition to creating their apartment guide for 39 metro areas, VeryApt also helps apartment seekers search through the available housing stock, finding the right apartment for them and assisting through the entire moving process.
Prospective renters can search through available housing stock through the VeryApt website. VeryApt partners with building management companies in each of the cities it operates in. Available units become searchable through the website and prospective renters can organize units according to cost, neighborhood, amenities, and other filters.
Once a user has decided which apartments they want to view in person, a VeryApt Concierge will arrange a tour. According to VeryApt, prospective renters typically view four apartments on each tour. Once the renter has settled on their apartment, VeryApt’s Concierge will assist in the application process, which is made available online. Once the lease is signed, VeryApt provides move-in specialists who can help find movers, arrange renter’s insurance and even help set up internet connection.
Gene Phillips, Partnership Manager at the company, explains that VeryApt’s system provides a more pleasant renting experience than that of a traditional brokerage model. VeryApt is compensated by its building partners, and so, it’s Concierge staff is agnostic to which apartment a renter chooses. Since VeryApt is compensated directly by the buildings it works with, there is no additional brokerage commission for the renters to pay; the service is entirely free for the end users. With the no-fee-approach, Concierge staff are not biased and are rather, incentivized to find the best apartment suitable for each renter.
“VeryApt is a data-driven concierge rental platform that makes finding the perfect apartment effortless,” Phillips said. “As a personalized search platform that instantly connects renters with a team of leasing specialists who help find and book apartments, VeryApt makes it simple for users to research properties, schedule tours, and sign a lease all in one place.”
This process removes many of the common pain points involved with renting an apartment in NYC. Especially during the summer months, apartment inventory turns over with ferocious speed, and brokerage commissions are high. Many review sites are plagued by highly misleading or false advertisements. Few would describe the process as pleasant.
VeryApt’s NYC guide provides a wealth of information for prospective renters. The 2018 Stern MBA guide features reviews from over 500 students. The information is broken down by neighborhood and the four most popular neighborhoods, as rated by Stern students, are given detailed examinations.
Stern student’s top neighborhoods picks include: Midtown (where 20% respondents live), East Village and Greenwich Village (respectively 15%) and Gramercy Park (five percent). Unsurprisingly, VeryApt found that popular searches also extended to apartments within walking distance of campus.
In addition to providing reviews of each neighborhood in NYC, VeryApt’s housing guide also ranks the most popular buildings for students. Building rankings are based on various factors such as cost and safety. Moreover, students can filter for categories including “Best for Families” and “Best for Pet Owners.” Every renter’s tastes are idiosyncratic, but Phillips mentioned one common criterion as being crucial for many renters in New York – proximity to a grocery store.
Based in Philadelphia, VeryApt has steadily grown its presence in recent years. In addition to servicing major real estate hubs such as Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, VeryApt has also expanded to millennial hotspots like Nashville and Raleigh-Durham. While VeryApt is currently focused on serving graduate students, it has been branching out to support corporations that want to help their incoming analyst and associate classes find places to live. As a company whose senior leadership understands students’ housing woos, VeryApt continues to make strides, expanding its services and settling roots across cities.