NYC rental websites stack up

November 21, 2011 11:10AM

At least six new New York City rental websites have launched in the last 18 months, according to Crain’s, as the city’s booming rental market and low vacancy rates drive prospective renters to do what they can to avoid paying broker fees that range from one month’s rent to 15 percent of a year’s rent.

New rental sites include 18-month old UrbanEdgeNY.com, which provides no-fee apartment listings directly from landlords, and NakedApartments.com, where apartment hunters can search for free, but brokers and landlords must pay monthly subscription fees.

The new start-ups face the challenge of standing out in a sector that now has around 30 sites, Crain’s noted, including industry fixtures like Streeteasy.com and Craigslist.com, the latter of which is increasingly deemed unreliable by consumers, according to Crain’s.

“We want to be the number one source for renters,” said Sharif Fakhr, founder of another new site, InsideDigs, which launched 10 months ago.

Despite the success of these sites, established brokerages like Citi Habitats continue to argue that the digital search for a home does not compare to working with a broker.

“These sites simply provide access to info,” said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats. “We know what goes on in the market.” [Crain’s]