“We’re seeing a lot of foreign money and investors that want to park their money somewhere,” said Lee Lin, co-founder of rental search website RentHop. “The joke is Manhattan condos have become the new world reserve currency.”
But as property values rise, investors can no longer “blindly purchase real estate and count on steady appreciation from the housing crisis,” he said.
That’s why he’s launched RealtyHop, a spinoff of RentHop that’s designed to help investors home in on properties likely to deliver the best return on investment. The site’s launch comes shortly after the debut of a similar service, FixFlip.com.
“This is the right time to be doing this type of analysis,” Lin noted. “The last five years you’d make a lot on appreciation.” Now, he said, it’s more about “will I actually get a good value, and how much would you make if you started to rent it out?”
RealtyHop currently covers New York City only, but RentHop has plans to expand RealtyHop to other cities as it continues to gather rental data in those areas.
Users can search a neighborhood to pull up listings ranked by their expected “cap rate.”
A cap rate predicts a property’s potential return on investment, and is calculated by dividing the income a property is expected to generate after expenses by the total value of the property.
RealtyHop can also compute the rate of return for a home purchase financed by a mortgage.
RentHop says RealtyHop provides a good starting point for investors to evaluate the potential of rental properties, but notes that it doesn’t take into account other important data, including vacancy rates and closing costs.
RentHop also said that RealtyHop relies on data from listing agents and brokers, and sometimes “an apparently amazing deal is an artifact of incorrectly entered numbers (for example, a co-op incorrectly classified as a condo, which tends to sell for more).”
The search tool is currently free for listing agents and consumers — and will be for the first six months, Lin said — but RentHop may charge for featured placement or access to more sophisticated data analysis in the future.
RentHop is backed by Y Combinator, Two Sigma Ventures and Social Starts.
Editor’s note: Erik Pisor contributed reporting to this story.