Alex Lubinsky, CEO of the instantly infamous rental application and bidding startup called Rentberry, recently confided to Curbed that he overpaid for his apartment in SoMa. By way of defending his service, he argues that Rentberry, which allows renters to submit applications as well as dynamically bid on housing, and eventually pay rent online, could have saved him money.
While Rentberry is certainly capitalizing on a problematic housing market here in San Francisco where it's based, the startup's services — which, for renters, essentially cost $25 if you land the place — are available globally. Lubinsky tells SFist he's got happy users everywhere. And rather than fanning the flames of the market, Lubinsky argues that he's shining a light on its private dealings, even perhaps cooling it down.
"Many people feel that they need to submit secret bids, nowadays, in order to get a place. Using our technology, our platform, people can know how much you actually need to offer." Submitting an offer below asking is an option on Rentberry, as is submitting an offer just above another offer rather than way above what you think that offer might be.
The question, it seems, is whether or not this creates more demand: Bidding wars in public rather than blind bidding in private. Lubinsky argues that, privately, landlords or rental agencies can and probably will tell you whatever they'd like — that there have been other bids, higher bids, what have you.
Consider a blind auction versus an auction house. Which dynamic do you think is more fair? That might be your answer to whether you think Rentberry is a good idea or not. Finally, as Lubinsky insists, Rentberry is really for submitting and receiving applications and offers. It's Craigslist but for 2016, he implies, even though Craigslist still exists and it's free and it forces landlords to pick a price and stick with it.
What effect, if any, a service like this will have on the broader rental market remains to be seen but as we've noted, things already have cooled off a bit.