By Konrad Putzier
If brothers Isaac and Omer Palka are successful, New York City’s rental brokers could soon have a much harder time finding business.
Their website Zenly, launched in June, hopes to connect renters and landlords directly, without the help of brokers. The site advertises apartments much like brokerages do, with the added benefit of a video tour. But if potential tenants want to tour an apartment, they are asked to make an appointment with the landlord via the website.
In eschewing brokers, Zenly hopes to save apartment hunters money, explained Isaac Palka. He said the site charges tenants five percent of the first year’s rent — significantly less than the 15 percent typically charged by brokers.
Zenly’s success hinges on whether landlords are willing to sign on and accept the burden of showing prospective tenants around an apartment. So far, 20 large landlords — including Stonehenge, Rockrose and TF Cornerstone — are working with the service, according to Zenly.
For now, Zenly is only looking to work with large landlords, but Omer Palka said the company hopes to eventually list for landlords of all stripes. Zenly could become a test for the resilience of the brokerage model in the internet age. Successful real estate listings websites like Zillow, Property Shark or Craigslist have generally helped rather than threatened brokers, giving them new platforms to find clients. Zenly, on the other hand, explicitly hopes to take business away from brokers.
“We found that in our demographic group, people prefer to do things on their own and visit apartments without someone looking over their shoulder,” said Isaac Palka. “And, quite frankly, people want to save money.”
Isaac and Omer Palka, neither of whom had any prior experience in real estate, got the idea for Zenly during their own apartment search.
“The last time I was apartment hunting I realized the process hadn’t changed in the ten years since I had been in college,” Isaac Palka said. “That’s where all this came from.” займы онлайн без залога
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