A UK start-up is taking the time and legwork out of finding rental accommodation by offering a personal service which matches prospective tenants with properties, then schedules viewings and takes them on a tour of what’s available.
Known as Homie, the service is making serious inroads into the London market, catering to busy professionals, expats and students who are short of time or local knowledge in the house hunt.
CEO and founder Alex Eid said the idea came to him in 2015.
“It all started when a friend of mine was moving to London and I wanted to help them find a place to rent. I managed to find somewhere in just one day by arranging everything from the location to viewings and cab tours.
“This experience showed me that the market was lacking a personal service like that – a friendly person to help with your search for the right property, show you around and give you advice – which is something only local experts can provide.”
Mr Eid launched Homie in 2016, and already it has a staff base of 21, has attracted over $6 million in seed funding and has rolled out across zones 1 and 2 of London. So far Homie has helped over 1,000 people find their next home.
The service works by assigning every renter a personal home finder, known as a ‘Homie’, who uses the company’s proprietary aggregator platform to search the market and match renters with their ideal home.
“Rather than renters wasting hours looking through traditional rental websites, which are often known for clickbait listings, a Homie does all the research for the renter’s exact specifications and removes the need for them to deal with multiple estate agents.
“It works by matching the renter to a property that best suits their criteria and the Homie will then schedule multi-agent viewings to make life that little bit easier.”
The ‘Homie’ then joins house-hunters on a black cab tour of their favourite properties, advising them every step of the way. Renters can request as many tours as they need to find the right home, paying a once-only flat fee of £49.
Mr Eid said the typical customer tended to be young professionals who are short of time. He noted research showed renters previously spent on average 20 hours a month searching and five hours a month attending property viewings. Meanwhile, viewings were often scattered across the city at inconvenient times and involved dealing with countless different agents.
“Homie prides itself with taking care of the time-consuming tasks which professionals don’t have the resources to do due to time constraints of their work and social life.”
Other customers include expats who aren’t familiar with London and need assistance in navigating the city and finding the best deals for them.
“We also home a lot of students and first-time renters who don’t necessarily understand London’s real estate market. We expect our customer to evolve as Homie’s coverage expands and we launch into new territories.”
Homie is now looking to increase its London footprint, but ultimately they hope to improve the rental search experience wherever it’s needed.
“We want to fulfil our goal of making renting in London a transparent, affordable and positive experience. Once we’ve done this our aim will be to export and expand the platform to other cities, which could be anywhere – such as Sydney, Paris, Hong Kong or New York.
“We want to change the way people rent by providing a seamless experience under a consumer brand that champions renters and allows them to manage all aspects of their rental in one place.
“We want to become the go-to platform for renters, allowing them to relocate locally or internationally within a few clicks. By giving renters more control and transparency around their decisions, we create more value to renters, allowing them to view and rent the best properties in no time.”
Further information about Homie is available at homie.rent