A new startup out of San Francisco, called Rentberry, has just launched, allowing tenants to openly bid on rentals in the city. Think of it like a rental auction. Landlord lists property. And then tenants compete for it by submitting offers.
Not surprisingly – especially since we’re talking about San Francisco – there’s concern that this will do nothing but drive up the city’s already high rents.
But I think the key detail is that the platform will make public the total number of applicants. As a tenant, it’ll even tell you how your credit score compares to those of the other bidders (presumably, so you can gauge how aggressive you might need to be on your bid).
The real estate industry is rife with information asymmetries. So anything that improves transparency is something that catches my attention. If you’ve ever bought or rented a place in a competitive market, you know that one of the worst things you can hear from the broker is: “We have another offer.” (Even worse: “We have 12 other offers.”)
It’s frustrating because it now means you’re competing. But even more frustrating is the fact that you have no way of assessing whether or not that statement is fact or fiction. Yes, I realize that there’s a code of ethics that’s supposed be followed, but you and I both know that games are played all the time.
In fact, I think someone could easily make a full career out of just trying to correct the information asymmetries inherent in the real estate industry. Who knows what sort of impact they might be having on the market. So I’m excited to see how things pan out for Rentberry.