How Technology Will Streamline the Entire Apartment Rental Process

Article originally posted on Globe St. on May 23, 2019

Nearly every facet of our lives—from the way we eat to the way we commute and even the way we’re entertained—has been drastically altered by technology. Improving one aspect, however, has remained elusive: renting and furnishing an apartment.

Companies such as Zillow, Trulia, and Zumper have improved inefficiencies by increasing transparency and making it easier to find the right home through listings. However the actual process of leasing and equipping an apartment—from scheduling a viewing to signing the lease and getting the unit fully furnished—has remained tedious at best.

Thankfully, trends in the way we live today continue to disrupt our attitudes towards ownership—much like Lyft and Zipcar have prompted fewer people to own cars, and streaming services like Netflix have discouraged people from owning DVDs and made binge-watching a national pastime. A growing number of companies are now tackling the pain points of finding an apartment through a variety of angles.

An Infusion of Tech

Although the way people rent apartments hasn’t changed much over the past 20-plus years, technology is simplifying and disrupting the process beyond recognition. Companies now focus on providing an experience renters expect and deserve—one that’s seamless, speedy, superior and increasingly mobile.

New brokerages (such as Compass and Redfin) are modernizing the real estate experience with the help of technology, similar to the way short-term rental marketplaces like Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and Flipkey have continuously improved their own corner of the industry. Co-living and roommate matching apps (such as WeLive, Common, Starcity, Convene and Roomi) are creating a new living experience that caters to millennials. And finally, tech-powered apartment companies like Vacasa, TurnkeyVR, Sonder, Lyric and Blueground are providing furnished, move-in ready apartments and houses for short and long-term stays.

Historically, leasing an apartment has involved exhaustive hours dedicated to searching through listings, interacting with a number of brokers and various property management firms, filling out paperwork, meeting the landlord, paying for the application/credit check, signing the contract in person, connecting utilities, and buying furniture and equipment.  Furthermore, upon move-in, maintenance issues with A/C or plumbing can often require more problem-solving and additional time wasted.

Having lived overseas in Africa, Asia and Europe for work assignments, I do know firsthand how difficult it is to find the right housing. Each market had different shortcomings, but it was never easy or comfortable. At Blueground, we use technology to transform the way renters view apartments. For instance, allowing tenants to check availability in real-time, sign a lease for the duration of their choosing, pay rent, and file maintenance requests – all online. In addition, renters will have the flexibility to jump between apartments, neighborhoods and even cities without constraints or penalties. Blueground apartments come fully and thoughtfully furnished, with all utilities pre-connected, so renters can simply show up and start living. Once the online reservation is made, our guests have access to ongoing support and information through the Blueground app. They can arrange housekeeping and request maintenance, among other services.

Thanks to a growing number of innovative companies, the apartment rental experience is becoming streamlined and seamless, just like every other aspect of this modern life. As demand for tech-powered fully-furnished rental properties grows, innovations in the space are prompting landlords to lease their apartments with companies like Blueground to help modernize and amenitize their units. The payoff for owners is twofold. On one hand, it helps owners and property managers to attract a new type of tenant — business executives who are looking for flexible solutions. On the other hand, leasing properties to providers like Blueground helps owners fill apartments before they hit the market, ensuring a steady cash flow. I’m so happy that at Blueground we pave the way for transforming how people book and experience medium to long-term accommodations around the world.