Navigating competitive rental markets where renters have little say in their home specifications is all too common, especially in New York City. With prices skyrocketing across boroughs, landlords hold the cards, and renters are left with little choice but to settle for what they can get.
ClikHome — an online advisor for apartment renters — hopes to put a little power back in the renters’ hands. After filling out a few basic fields (number of desired bedrooms, desired neighborhood and so on), searching lessees are directed to answer a series of 10 questions to help match them with the best apartments based on lifestyle and the budget constraints previously covered.
It’s currently live in New York City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the company has big plans to expand to new markets this year.
Inman recently spoke with ClikHome co-founder and president Nick Kljaic regarding the website’s searching features, recent launch and budding expansion into the business-to-business market.
Kljaic’s comments have been edited for clarity.
How were you and Junjie Shi inspired to start ClikHome?
We started in NYC. We were both renters, and one day in the office we both started talking about how difficult it is to rent in NYC and how it shouldn’t be that hard. There are no good rentals — you have to search through those other marketplaces, and it’s very difficult to find something that is for you, which is even more difficult when you’re not from that city. As we started expanding, we just quit our jobs, and that’s the beginning of ClikHome and where we are today.
How does ClikHome set itself apart from the other search engines on the market?
We’re working for renters. That’s how we differentiate ourselves from our competitors that are out there. It’s not just about listings and landlords, it’s about the renter and getting them what they really want. It’s how our entire concept is structured.
Can you explain a little about how the step-by-step works on ClikHome and how the algorithm plays a part in determining which listings are a good fit for renters?
If you go on our site, first you will fill out the city, then the regular filter and price fields. Then, you hit the unique part, which is the personalization page. Basically, our matching engine is asking questions based on your preference: what you like, what you don’t like, what you do. [It’s] basically about you and your lifestyle, so you can personalize your search and we can match you with the right apartment and the right neighborhood. That is our unique part.
It’s just 10 questions at the moment. The engine is random; we have a database of questions which are not always the same. One answer determines the next. It can specify what apartment is the right match. This calculation and the matching is happening in real time.
Nothing is predetermined — how you answer the question is what makes the algorithm go to work and calculate. The matches you receive are just for you. No one will have the same score or the apartment with the same score as you. That is a very important aspect of our personalization.
When did you officially launch and what has the process been like since?
We launched about a week ago. We built everything in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
We are [now traveling] in San Francisco, and expanding to other new markets.
Where do you see ClikHome going from here?
We are in an ongoing process of testing new markets. Another big thing in Cedar Rapids is a business-to-business model. A lot of big corporations can use our service and our model for corporate relocations. We are in talks with a Fortune 500 company in Cedar Rapids and are in the final stages. They are most likely going to be on board for us to deliver corporate housing and inquiry relocation, which means that the employees, wherever they are, will use our algorithm to find the apartments they like and we will take care of the apartments for them to find. This is a huge problem for big and middle-size companies who use third party vendors. We give offline support and customer representatives 24/7, as well.
Any tips for renters navigating competitive markets like NYC?
It’s always who you know. Know the neighborhoods. When we lived there, the first thing I asked my friends was, “Are you moving out?” so I could move in. From now on, ClikHome takes care of that; you don’t have to pay the price. You have to pull the trigger when you like an apartment right away, though, because if you don’t, someone else will.
Anything else you would like to add?
If brokers or property managers want to promote their listings on ClikHome, we don’t charge for them to have their listings on the site, so they can get the exposure. For the renter, it gives more choices to score more apartments.
We are working with property managers everywhere; more choices are better for renters.