Technology

Companies vie to provide paperless rental applications to the masses

Zumper, Cozy and Lovely integrate credit reports, bring cumbersome process into the digital age

Two years after launching as a rental marketplace, Zumper is finally doing what it set out to accomplish from the very beginning: streamline the rental application process by bringing it online.

With the release of the Zumper Rental Application, aka “Zapp,” rental brokers, agents, property managers and landlords on Zumper can sign up to accept the digital apps that come complete with credit reports from Experian Marketing Services.

Renters can fill out a Zumper online rental app, pay a one-time $10 fee to attach an Experian credit report and apply for units that accept them on Zumper with one click.

Once filled out, renters can then send the app to as many listings as they want on Zumper, but only those with the “Zapp” logo guarantee that they will accept the paperless application. Any rental property pro can accept a Zumper listing, but they have to create a free Zumper Pro account to access it.

Zapp is an effort to establish a national standard in online rental applications, Zumper co-founder and CEO Anthemos Georgiades said. Zumper expanded its rental listings platform nationwide in July 2013 and is now out to revolutionize the rental app with that critical mass of listings on the site, he said.

Renters know the headaches that accompany paper applications — filling out multiple apps that vary slightly from each other, paying multiple application fees, mailing or hand-delivering the application. By having to sort, keep track of and evaluate the paper apps, rental pros know their pain, too.

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Zumper was originally conceived of as a solution to those problems, Georgiades said. But three weeks before the firm launched in 2012 at TechCrunch Disrupt, it decided to pivot and use its seed funding to build a mobile-focused rental listing platform that would help rope the rental industry and consumers into the process, he said.

Zumper raised $6.5 million in a Series A funding round in March, which is fueling the firm’s efforts. Currently, the firm makes money by charging property managers and brokers who list their rental units on Zumper to enhance their listings on the site, Georgiades said. They also pay a fee for each lead they receive from the site.

Zumper doesn’t make money off the rental applications now, but if it becomes the go-to site for online rental apps, it can provide higher-quality leads to its rental pros and therefore charge a higher fee for them, Georgiades added.

Other rental marketplaces like Cozy and Lovely are also racing to become the rental industry’s go-to digital application platform. Cozy, which also ties its online rental applications to Experian credit reports in addition to payment processing, raised $5 million last October.

Lovely, which was acquired by rental marketplace giant RentPath Inc. in April for $13 million, also offers digital rental applications, Experian integration and rental payment processing.

To become the industry standard for online rental apps, “we need high landlord and rental agent adoption,” Georgiades said.

Zumper’s rolling out the “Zapp” platform first in its hometown of San Francisco, Georgiades said. Roughly 20 percent of the firm’s approximate 2,000 San Francisco listings carry the “Zapp” logo, he said.

The firm will bring the feature to a handful of large markets where it has gained traction this fall including New York City, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago, Georgiades said. Zumper’s near-term goal is to bring approximately 20 percent of its rental listing inventory for each of its top U.S. markets onto the “Zapp” platform, he said.

Renters can fill out Zapp applications on their Android mobile devices with Zumper’s Android app. IOS capability will be coming soon, Georgiades said.