When Zumper launched its own rental brokerage with three agents last summer, Manhattan’s traditional brokerages were up in arms. Since then, the StreetEasy competitor has more than doubled its number of exclusive rental listings and embarked on an agent recruiting spree.
As of May 15, Zumper had 26 licensed agents in New York, according to New York Department of State data compiled by The Real Deal. Zumper’s hiring efforts appear to have ramped up between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15, when it brought in 13 agents for its rental brokerage arm, the data analysis shows. Between April 15 and May 15, Zumper added another six agents.
Zumper did not respond to request for comment, but it’s been recruiting openly. The company organized a brunch for prospective agents last week and hosted an open house in April. On a jobs posting for a leasing agent, Zumper said it was looking for agents who had leasing experience, a track record of closing deals and (ideally) exclusive relationships with landlords. The splits are “competitive” and there’s a large support team to help manage the 100,000 leads generated monthly in New York, the listing claims.
The language of the listing suggest these agents are being hired to grow its Zumper Select rental program, which pairs a Zumper agent with an apartment hunter from the start of the housing search process to lease signing.
When Zumper Select was announced last year, it fueled existing fears that technology would eventually make brokers obsolete or at least diminish their earning power. Zumper’s lead generation program allows renters to search for apartments, chat in real-time with a staffer or watch video tours of listings. Landlords can use Zumper Select to market their listings directly to potential tenants.
It quickly drew the ire of the city’s largest residential firms, many of which refused to send listings to Zumper’s tech platform.
“By posting to their site, you validate their service, which given their new direction, does not make business sense,” Citi Habitats’ president Gary Malin said at the time.
New York is a big market for Zumper, which has raised just over $39 million in venture capital funding. The website has roughly 38,000 listings in the city — but only about 1,900 of those are Select. When the real estate tech company officially launched the brokerage operation in New York, it had about 800 Select listings.
Zumper, which acquired New York City-based PadMapper in 2016, could still pose a threat to traditional brokerages. Zumper struck a deal with Facebook last fall, which allows users to browse Zumper listings on Facebook Marketplace. And individual landlords can automatically syndicate listings to Facebook by posting to Zumper Pro.
Third-party platforms are increasingly squeezing money out of rental brokers. Last year, StreetEasy instituted a $3 daily fee on any rental listing. Record levels of concessions have effectively reduced commissions from 15 percent of the lease value to one month’s rent or less, brokerage heads at The Real Deal’s 11th annual showcase and forum said.