The Real Deal New York

Urban Compass goes live with apartment search site

May 07, 2013 05:30PM

Ori Allon and a screenshot of Urban Compass

The shroud of mystery hanging over tech start-up Urban Compass has been lifted, and its purpose does indeed pertain to real estate. The site — which lists apartments in Manhattan and in parts of Brooklyn — aims to make city house hunting “faster, easier and cheaper,” in the words of co-founder Robert Reffkin, the New York Observer reported.

As The Real Deal previously reported, there was much speculation about the purpose of Urban Compass.

Until a press conference today with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Urban Compass Soho office, co-founder Ori Allon had remained silent on the focus of the start-up, which hired Citi Habitats alum Gordon Golub earlier this year, secured an investment from Bill Rudin of Rudin Management and put out a casting call for real estate brokers to work as “neighborhood specialists.”

Urban Compass users can search for apartments by location, size, price and in some cases, building amenities, according to Curbed. In an effort to be unique, the site also offers paperless applications for rentals. The site is updated multiple times each day, and listings are culled from landlords and their exclusive brokers.

The site’s “neighborhood specialists” make visits to apartments with users looking for a home in hopes of guaranteeing the accuracy of the listings. Appointments can be booked through the site. [NYO] and [Curbed]Zachary Kussin

  • Timtom

    I just don’t see how their service is any different from other firms.

    • Agent X

      It is no different just less personal… which does not work. For example, they do not put cell phone numbers on their business cards.

  • hamboner

    Proof again that rent controls in NYC are truly evil. Because of the low vacancy rate, RE agents can get away with charging 15% (up from 10% in the 60s) to do very little — that’s $5000 bucks for signing a contract on a $2800/month apartment.

    This approach manages get the RE agents to be contractors working for peanuts and to re-direct the revenue back to the owners/landlords. The renters get a small discount (7.5% vs 15%), but that’s still $2500 — far far more than you would pay a car dealer or anyone else in a competitive market.

    • Hard Truth

      Sounds like, you’re shopping in a Porsche dealership complaining about the high performance price – because you just need a car to bump around the block with. No need to stand there pulling your hair out over the price of a Porsche, if the money is too large for you, there’s a Honda dealership next door. If the extra performance is not worth it to you..hit the pavement, and go “do very little” yourself, for $5,000, and find an apartment with out a broker. Sounds like the $5,000 means a lot to you, so why pass it up? get out there with your metro card, and go door to door yourself. Brokers are for people who value their own time more, and would rather pay some one else to perform and do the leg work for them. If there’s no value in it for you..we’ll ..as we said..metro cards are available to everyone! You can also drive down to florida to pick your own orange from a tree, if you dont want to pay $4 for a container of tropicana that the cashier only took a “second” to pass on to you, and “did almost nothing” for.

    • BoneHead

      Can it be possible that in the year 2014 (nearly), America, there are still people here who think they’re in a socialist society? If the concept of free trade, & property ownership, does not agree with you…you’re in luck..International plane tickets are on sale, and it seems you only need a 1 way ticket!

  • restartupguy

    This is their MVP. They are just getting started. Confident they know what they are doing.

  • Helene Smith

    Actually it was much MORE personal. It worked.

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