Best Websites Serving The NYC Short-Term, Sublet, Rental Spectrum
When people mention sublet websites, there are seemingly many choices in a crowded space. That’s weird, because Harvard Business School professors Peter Coles, Ben Edelman, and Mike Luca found that a strong marketplace network effect should consolidate the ecosystem into a few winners.
Why So Many Sublet Websites In New York City?
Each sublet website actually serves a different occupancy duration niche along the spectrum of sublet rentals. RentHop’s sublet product, for example, primarily serves renters looking to find a subletter for their apartment/room, as these renters are often attempting to get out from under their current lease or fill a room vacancy. As reported by several major outlets last month, RentHop saw record numbers of new sublet listings in May and June 2020, largely due to renters looking to break their current apartment leases.
The key to understanding the sublet market is to break down tenants and landlords into categories by length of stay.
Vacation Stays: Airbnb / VRBO / Booking.com
The ultra short term housing sites operate more like inns and small hotels. Guests come for a week or two, sometimes only a weekend, and occasionally just one night. Airbnb is by far the largest marketplace by almost any measure, but we should mention Booking.com’s increasing inventory of short-term housing. Booking.com aggregates hotel listings and runs a much larger hotel inventory, comparable to Expedia. But they’ve got their eyes on short-term and have heavily recruited hosts to their platform.
Short-Term Housing / Serviced Apartments
There is an industry built around corporate professionals relocating to new cities, and New York City is full of them. Sometimes called corporate housing or serviced apartments, these units are designed for stays of one to three months. They are generally too short to be of interest for brokers, and too long to fall under the hotel and vacation stay category.
Unfortunately, this is one of the most fragmented of all markets. You wouldn’t want to rent one of these sight-unseen, if you can avoid it. That rules out sites that collect payment up front, such as Airbnb. But no one can grind out a living showing 1-month stays all day long; even if there were great deals, who would pay the commission?
To find serviced apartments, you will need to do most of the legwork on your own. To start, try the extended-stay sections of your favorite hotel search sites, and you can find monthly occupancy rates. Still, not many buildings can list themselves on Expedia and Priceline, so you should also scour ads on social media and Craigslist.
Lease Breaking Websites
People still call these sublets when searching on Google, but a lease break can take many forms. If a tenant needs to leave mid-lease, it’s important to loop in the landlord to find out your options. Sometimes, the landlord will want someone to assign the remainder of the lease; other times the new tenant signs an entirely new lease (potentially with a fee to the breaker). The duration of stay tends to be 3 to 9 months in the assignment case.
This is the type of sublet that RentHop’s sublet platform is particularly good at serving. With over 350k unique visitors a month, RentHop’s sublet listings are highly visible and receive vastly more renter interest than smaller listing sites.
Sublets and For Rent By Owner Listings
Sublets are a broad term, but some of the best sublet deals come from For Rent By Owner listings. You can search on RentHop for NYC Sublets of both types – a condo owner with an exclusive for example, or a lease breaker with landlord willing to renew for 12 months.
When searching for sublets, the listings will often be interchangeable with full-fledged landlord listings for vacant apartments, or brokered exclusives looking for 12 month or longer lease. In that case, is there an advantage to having a separate section?
RentHop Sublet Solution: FRBO Postings, Multiple Search Categories
When catering to the For Rent By Owner crowd, our team realized they clearly have different needs than the leasing office of a large building. Safety and verification is much more important for individual owners, as they likely won’t have any online presence or reliable research the poster prior to meeting.
On the outward facing search result for consumers, we do mix the results and provide special filters and tags We tag them with a special “By Owner” tag, so you can filter for them, and we require the full address be shown on the listing. Next time we will discuss the search-engine side features we built to help you find the best sublet, leasebreak, and FRBO deals.
Best NYC Websites and Resources
When polling your friends and family for the best no fee websites, everyone is seemingly an expert with exactly one data-point of experience. Why? Because almost everyone had to go through some painful experience before finally finding what they needed. Just keep in mind, what works for them doesn’t necessarily work for you! Here are some true tips and guidelines for finding the right websites that do not overfit to the latest trends.
First, listing aggregators tend to provide much more inventory than direct-to-landlord or brokerage websites. How do you tell the difference? Think of it as Delta Airlines vs Kayak. In the first case, you are going directly to a single company, and you will only find flights by Delta Airlines (or United, American, etc). When you go to an aggregator site, such as Expedia, RealtyHop, or Priceline, you are getting inventory from dozens if not hundreds of various sources. Even if you somehow don’t mind keeping 10 different Chrome tabs open as you search each individual provider, you still have the final burden of comparing all of your options!
Most sensible portals, aggregators, or listing websites will allow you to organize and track your favorite options, data, inquiries, and contact history in one place. When searching for sublets, this is particularly important, as any delay in the conversation with your potential landlord or tenant can cost the entire transaction – the market is simply too tight.
How About Transaction Processing? Paying Rent Online?
Some websites merely make an introduction and allow two parties to connect. For example, some sites will allow tenants to search for landlords and then provide appropriate contact information. Other sites will enable deeper levels of interaction, such as scheduling appointments, keeping conversation records, providing anonymity and privacy, or facilitating the application and credit check process. A few websites will even allow online rent payment.
This practice is called owning more of the vertical and can provide more convenience for the transacting parties. However, it also requires more buy-in and commitment from the players, in particular the brokers, agents, and landlords. Because of the phenomenon known as multi-homing, it is difficult for a website to scale too far down a vertical while ensuring broad enough inventory.
Renters and subleters can have more website choices than ever in finding their next apartment rental. However, know that not all sites are the same. All else being equal, we recommend choosing a listing aggregator as opposed to a direct landlord website, to maximize the diversity of choices available. Also, be very careful of sites that claim to handle all aspects of the transaction – it is almost certainly not a full representation of the available supply on the market.