One of the most interesting discoveries we’ve made while creating and growing RentHop is that not all brokers are equal. We originally began with the premise that the Internet was turning real estate professionals into over-priced commodities, prepped for a huge sell-off in prices, but we were wrong. Excellent agents certainly earn their keep, compared to the zero-value or even negative-value renters receive from the mediocre masses.
As nerdy software engineers turned real estate startup founders, we love building quantitative models in an attempt to automate what is normally a very human task. This time, however, we’re throwing you a curve ball. We are NOT trying to automate the real estate professional; instead, we are tackling the still difficult but more tractable problem of automatically determining which agents are likely to be good! Inside our RentHop labs (aka an emacs buffer in the cloud), we constantly tweak our secret ranking algorithm to show you only the best apartment listings first. While we guard the exact formulas quite closely, today we’ll shed some light on how to infer professional, helpful, and responsive behavior.
Take the two search rank summaries from two actual listings on our site today:
First, we have a listing that would normally receive an above average score ranking poorly. The broker in this case has not yet verified all of his contactinformation with us so we are not able to display it openly to renters for direct contact. Also, we carefully track every account’s historical behavior, so we can see that for previous listings by the same manager, many renters have attempted to make contact and did not hear back promptly (renter’s are an impatient bunch; anyone not receiving a reply within a day or two is as good as gone). Finally, the manager has not logged in to update any price changes or availability changes for quite a few days. In this peak season market, apartments are moving quickly! A listing without some update for over a week is very much in danger of being stale.
In contrast, the landlord on the right side has done lots of good things. He has received excellent feedback over his account’s history from renters, and he has fully verified all of his contact information with out listings department. More importantly, his day-to-day interactions with renter’s has been upstanding. He logs in on a daily basis to remove old listings and update information on any changes, and he consistently responds promptly to questions from renters and requests to schedule appointments.
There is a lot more to being a good broker than speedy blackberry reflexes or obsessively good customer service, but it’s shocking how many don’t make this basic cut. Just know that when you are browsing NYC Apartment rentals on our site, we are doing our best to shield you from those prone to serving you lots of radio silence.