Move Inc., the parent company of realtor.com, announced Tuesday that it had acquired Avail, a software company that provides tools for landlords.
The companies did not provide financial details about the acquisition, but in a statement Move Inc. said picking up Avail “helps realtor.com further expand into the rental space.” Realtor.com CEO David Doctorow further framed the deal as strategic, saying in the statement that “Avail is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the DIY landlords and tenants in a large, growing and underserved market.”
“By combining Avail’s rentals listing content and easy-to-use tools with realtor.com’s large audience, consumer experience platform and insights, we believe we can deliver more value to DIY landlords and tenants,” Doctorow added.
As those comments indicate, Avail is designed to assist smaller-scale, do-it-yourself landlords. The software allows landlords to create and market their listings, screen potential tenants, collect rent and handle maintenance requests, among other things.
Avail also touts its usefulness to renters; the statement notes that tenants can use the platform to apply for housing, sign leases, pay rent and submit maintenance requests.
The company currently offers a multi-tiered subscription-style service. More than 90 percent of the company’s customers use the basic free tier, according to the statement, though a second tier costs $5 per month per unit. The paid tier includes increased customization and the ability to create websites, among other things.
A group of part-time landlords founded Avail in 2012 after coming to the conclusion that the DIY rental landscape was chaotic and lacked adequate management tools. Today Avail includes a team of more than 30 people, all of whom will make the transition to realtor.com.
Move Inc. — which is a subsidiary of News Corp., the company best known as the parent of the Wall Street Journal — is acquiring Avail at the end of a chaotic year that has seen markets across the U.S. upended thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Midway through the year, for example, rental price growth plummeted amid a more broadly faltering economy. Millions of renters have also missed payments this year.
On the other hand, this fall, rents for some types of units — like single family homes — have been climbing. And a report out this week further showed that rents in most major cities are now rising faster than they were prior to the pandemic.
The Avail acquisition positions Move Inc. to capitalize on some of that growth. It also follows a pattern in which larger companies increasingly try to cater to the needs of smaller-scale landlords. That pattern makes sense because smaller landlords represent a massive market; according to Thursday’s Move Inc. statement, landlords with between one and 20 units “own and manage about three quarters of all the rentals in the U.S.”
Avail CEO Ryan Coons expressed excitement about joining realtor.com, saying in the statement that the acquisition should lead to greater opportunity for his company’s customers.
“Leveraging realtor.com’s industry expertise and scale,” Coons said, “will allow us to expand our platform capabilities and offerings so we can continue to deliver high-quality services, tools and education to even more landlords and tenants.”