- Rental site RadPad now lets renters digitally sign leases.
- That means renters can now complete the entire rental transaction process -- and pay rent throughout their tenancy -- on RadPad.
- However, renters can only digitally sign leases through RadPad for listings that have been manually added to the site by landlords.
Fitting all the the moving parts of a fragmented transaction process into a single choo-choo train to closing has long been the aspiration of real estate tech entrepreneurs.
RadPad may have just delivered — to renters, at least. Consumers can now use the rental site to find and apply for listings, sign leases and make payments throughout their tenancy.
Thanks to integration with DocuSign, the startup has “close[d] the loop on end-to-end apartment rental transactions” by rolling out a feature that lets landlords use RadPad to upload or create leases for renters to sign through RadPad, said RadPad spokesman Kyle Austin in a statement.
It’s the startup’s latest step towards towards molding a platform that nurtures what it says are shifting renting practices that are blurring the lines between short and long-term units.
Consumers could already use RadPad — which claims to receive 500,000 unique visitors a month — to submit applications with automatically fetched background checks, credit reports and bank statements. And they paid more than $40 million in rent through the site using debit or credit cards in 2015.
But users still had to sign leases off the site, either online or in person.
Property-management software like Rentalutions lets landlords syndicate listings and digitally secure applications, leases and payments from renters.
But RadPad claims to be the first consumer-facing site to offer those services to renters in the same place where they’re searching listings.
RadPad’s rental transaction platform comes with a big caveat: Renters can only use it if landlords or property managers have signed up.
Signing up requires landlords to create listings from scratch and upload existing leases or draft new ones using templates available on RadPad.
Landlords only have to submit a listing once to services like Yardi and ListHub for syndication to dozens of rental sites, including RadPad. So taking the time to create an original listing and digital lease just to streamline the rental process for RadPad users alone might seem like more trouble than its worth.
Ironing out a variety of customizable lease forms that comply with state laws was “painstaking” for RadPad, but the startup is hoping that offering the templates will turn it into a magnet for mom-and-pop landlords in particular, said RadPad CEO Jonathan Eppers.
DocuSign populates all lease forms on RadPad — both those created on the site and those that are uploaded — with digital signature boxes that renters can sign and then submit to landlords through RadPad.
“Our integration with RadPad will enable landlords to save time and money by making the entire listing to lease process digital – all while creating a great experience for their tenants,” said Georg Gerstenfeld, vice president of Global Real Estate Solutions at DocuSign, in a statement.
The new feature is off a promising start. RadPad already supports lease-signing for 5 percent of its total rental listing inventory (a total that includes listings syndicated by services like ListHub) in Los Angeles and Chicago.
To coax landlords and property managers aboard, RadPad offers promotion in search results to those who create listings with leases.
RadPad’s Austin pitched the lease-signing feature as “another step in cutting out brokers/agents from the rental process” and as a victory over competitors Zumper, Apartments.com and Trulia — which he suggested are working on similar functionality.
He also cast it as a bid to “battle” Zillow, which he implied had bought dotloop with the intent to roll out digital lease-signing to consumers. (Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff has said “one of the primary reasons” Zillow bought dotloop was to improve its value proposition to real estate brokers.)
In markets where agents mostly just help renters find units, technology like RadPad’s transaction platform might pose a threat to rental agents, Eppers said.
But he also noted that in some markets agents list properties, qualify applicants, collect payments and oversee the move-in process on behalf of landlords.
That’s why some have not only been listing properties on RadPad but also accepting rental applications through the platform. Eppers anticipates the same agents will start to use RadPad to execute lease agreements.
Blurring the lines between short-term and long-term
Technology like RadPad’s transaction platform makes it more feasible for consumers to commit to homes they’ve never seen in person — and shifting renting practices that are blurring the lines between short and long-term units is already encouraging the behavior, Eppers said.
Airbnb has spurred many landlords to list properties as short-term rentals that would have entered the market as long-term units in the past.
Some Airbnb listings feature both per-night and monthly rates (which typically represent a discount on a per-night basis). Users can book some of these listings for months-long stays.
Signing monthly leases or longer leases that still run for less than 12 months is becoming more common, according to Eppers. And since those leases don’t require as much commitment, that trend is likely to drive more renters to sign leases for units they’ve never laid eyes on, he said.
RadPad wants to cater to this behavioral shift. Taking a step in that direction, it recently began publishing listings from onefinestay, a marketplace for high-end short-term rentals. RadPad is talking to Airbnb about also publishing Airbnb listings but that “just hasn’t happened yet,” Eppers said.
Perhaps boding well for a future partnership, it turns out that one of Airbnb’s co-founders, Joe Gebbia, contributed a letter of recommendation to the visa application of one of RadPad’s co-founders, Tyler Galpin, according to Eppers.
Since Airbnb is reshaping renting behavior and already has a rental transaction platform, Eppers sees the site as its biggest competitor — even though Airbnb hasn’t moved into the conventional rental space yet.
He wants RadPad to become the leading platform that supports both long and short-term rental transactions before Airbnb “decides to do what we’ve become.”
And then get acquired by Airbnb, right?
“That’s not what I said,” Eppers said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that Kyle Austin is a spokesman for RadPad, not a co-founder.