Click to Rent: 11 Companies Making Renting Easier Around the World

Edmund Keith

November 4, 2020

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The idea of creating a platform where users can search for, apply for, reserve and sign a contract for their next home is one that is gaining traction across the world and one that eminent classifieds industry veteran Malcolm Myers highlighted at yesterday’s Property Portal Watch Virtual event:

“It amazes me that we don’t have any large rentals marketplace businesses in Europe yet.” Malcolm Myers.

Whether they refer to themselves as ‘end to end rentals’, ‘housing as a service’, or ‘the Airbnb of midterm rentals’ these companies are all bringing the process of renting an apartment online and in doing so taking some stress out of the process.

 

1. Spotahome: Spain (with coverage in 14 European cities)

Spotahome is very much seen as a pioneer of the end-to-end rental platform model. The company has had to shift its target market from foreign students to longer-term digital nomads in the wake of covid related cutbacks.

Model: Users find a property they like on the portal interface (which has a lot of info and a video walk-throughs for most listings), they check the dates they want to move in, provide some personal information, and pay a booking fee and the first month’s rent all through the platform.

Makes its money from: A booking fee charged to the user when they book a place to live.

Backers: In 2018 Spotahome’s founders went to San Francisco cap in hand to look for Series B funding. CEO Alejandro Artacho is on record as saying that his team were nervous about the round, but came back from the states as one of the first European proptech firms with silicon valley venture money from the likes of Kleiner Perkins. The company is also backed by pan-European marketplace investment firm Samaipata.

2. QuintoAndar: Brazil

In a country where renting was previously rendered a nightmare by the need for local guarantors and minefield like local bureaucracy QuintoAndar has become a reference point for other companies that set out to make renting easier. A beacon for Latin American tech firms, the company was declared a unicorn in 2019 just 6 years after its foundation.

Model: An online end to end lettings agency which can count on a property portal with tens of thousands of listings in 12 of Brazil’s most popular cities. Unlike some other end-to-end rental platforms, QuintoAndar is not just an intermediary handling transactions but is actually the entity renting out the properties as well.

Makes its money from: QuintoAndar charges the tenant the first month’s rent as a brokerage fee and charges the property’s owner an 8% monthly fee which is apparently standard for letting agents in Brazil.

Backers: Some very big-name investors including General Atlantic and SoftBank as well as prominent angel investors have plunged over $350M into the Brazilian company so far.

3. Qasa: Sweden

The USP of Qasa seems to lie in its ability to craft custom made lease agreements which are apparently water-tight within the Swedish legal system. An obvious barrier to both copycats and overseas expansion.

Model: Qasa is designed to make subletting an apartment in Sweden easy. From calculating what you as a landlord should charge as rent to finding a tenant to building a lease agreement and taking payments.

Makes its money from: Monthly rental fees are paid by Qasa to the landlord on behalf of the tenant and the company takes 6.99% of that rent payment as a transaction fee.

Backers: Qasa used to count the leading Swedish property portal site Hemnet among its backers until it was bought out by Shibsted-owned classifieds site Blocket in 2019.

4. Zumper: USA

Since 2018 Market leader and rival Zillow has had a similar, if not entirely as streamlined, process for pre-vetting applicants and handling payments. Zumper President Vishal Makijani told us that Zumper’s product Instarent has seen a good uptake since its introduction and he’ll be trying to keep Instarent one step ahead of Zillow’s product.

Model: Apart from being a traditional rentals portal, Zumper offers an ‘Instarent’ product where prospective tenants can submit details, pay a fee to take the apartment off the market, get approved for the tenancy, and pay rent online.

Makes its money from: Zumper makes its money from its Instarent offering from a reservation fee charged to tenants on reserving a property and 2% of the monthly rent from landlords.

Backers: A lot of silicon valley venture money. Zumper has so far raised some $90M from names such as Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and European classifieds giant Axel Springer.

5. Instahome: Malaysia

Launched in autumn 2020, the model is entirely new in a region where there is significant room for growth. Instahome has every chance of helping shift rental trends in southeast Asia in the next five years.

Model: Similar to other end-to-end rental platforms around the world. Users go to Instahome to find an apartment they like from its deduplicated listings, they check available dates, submit documents, and once they have the landlord’s approval they book the apartment. One interesting feature is that Instahome will incentivize prompt rental payments from tenants with as yet unspecified rewards.

Makes its money from: Instahome will charge agents a fee once it has found a tenant for their property. It’s unclear from articles and press releases published so far if the company will take a percentage of tenant rent payments.

Backers: Instahome has been founded by Catcha group and iProperty founder Patrick Grove who clearly has a lot of experience in the field of property technology companies in southeast Asia.

 

6. Nomad Homes: United Arab Emirates

Having been co-founded in 2019 by a former Goldman Sachs investor and Stanford MBA alumna Helen Chen, the startup has a lot of media coverage, not least from CNN.

Model: Catering to ex-pats moving to Dubai, Nomad Homes a personalized moving service for users looking to buy or rent. Once you find a property listing you like on the platform and give a time you’re free to view it, Nomad takes care of the rest leaving you free to just move in.

Makes its money from: When a home is rented Nomad shares a 5% commission with its agent partners.

Backers: The company secured a round of seed funding totaling some $4M back in July. Although the nascent company has been coy on who participants were, it has been reported that they included the venture arm of Comcast.

 

7. Homie: Mexico

Despite ditching its founder Jordi Greenham after an ugly scandal in February 2020, the startup has made notable strides in making the notoriously difficult process of renting an apartment in Mexico easier and has listings coverage across most of the country.

Model: Users give a budget before looking through listings, organizing viewings and applying before paying a fee to take the property off the market and paying rent for it through the platform. Homie also guarantees rent and legal protection for the landlord.

Makes its money from: When prospective tenants wish to reserve an apartment they pay Homie a fee of around $230 USD to take it off the market.

Backers: Equity International, Angel Ventures and Pacific Alliance were all part of a $7M round in late 2019.

 

8. NestAway: India

Another example of a company in a country with huge growth potential going after the rental market. NestAway is interesting because it doesn’t just cater to the upmarket Indian segment but is also looking to expand its offer to where margins are smaller and recently decided to spread to smaller towns and rural areas via a franchise model.

Model: Very similar to Quinto Andar in Brazil in that NestAway is an end to end rental solution that also serves as the broker and property manager rather than simply a platform intermediary.

Makes its money from: NestAway charges the landlord 12.5% of the rent to manage the property and find a tenant but does not charge the tenant or the landlord any one of brokerage fees.

Backers: Goldman Sachs invested some $5M back in September 2019 and the company has also been backed financially by IDG and The University of California among others.

9. Rent.com.au: Australia

Although countries such as Australia might be considered more developed than Brazil or India, they seem to be lagging behind when it comes to click-to-rent companies. Specialist rental portal Rent.com.au is catching up having added bolt-on services such as rental insurance, renter resumés, utilities and online payments over the last 18 months to become the closest thing Australia has to a click-to-rent platform.

Model: Ostensibly a regular property portal with auxiliary services added, Rent.com.au works as a click to rent platform but users can also go down the traditional route to renting an apartment if they don’t want to make a ‘renter resumé’.

Makes its money from: Charges advertisers as a regular portal and also makes its money from what it terms ‘Renter Products’ which include the ‘RentPay’ product where renters are charged $3 per month to pay their rent through the platform.

Backers: The platform is backed by digital banking company Novatti, who no doubt provide useful expertise behind Rent’s online payments platform.

10. Movebubble: The UK

Building a large network of small landlords with second hand property is tough. That’s why UK rental platform Movebubble is mostly targeting the build to rent sector to gain inventory in the two cities in which it operates: London and Manchester. For the demand side Movebubble partners with big employers in those cities such as Google and the NHS.

Model: Movebubble works as a kind of agent for the renter and part of its USP is using technology to make sure that a property is still available when a prospective tenant wants to sign an agreement (a big problem in London). Like other click to rent platforms, a lot of the leg-work of renting is done online including tenant screening but Movebubble does not handle rent payments or act as a lettings agent.

Makes its money from: Similar to Homie in Mexico whereby the platform operates something of a freemium model with users only paying to reserve a property and take it off the market.

Backers: Former Rightmove Chairman Scott Forbes was recently announced as a Director as well as from former Spotify Chairman Adam Williams. It has also received money from build to rent company Quintain.

 

11. Aptuno: Colombia

Aptuno is another company looking to disrupt rent in another Latin American country in which renting can be a nightmare. Founded in late 2019 the company is looking to take some of the stress out of renting in Colombia.

Model: Landlords upload their property which Aptuno then publishes across its network to find a renter. Like many others on this list the company’s USP in Colombia is that it can use fintech to pre-approve prospective tenants who can then apply to rent and sign a contract via the platform and avoid in person contact and phone calls.

Makes its money from: Aptuno’s site is somewhat opaque when it comes to declaring how the company makes money. We can assume that the renter is charged on reservation of the property.

Backers: Founder of Viva Real and Grupo ZAP Brian Requarth is listed as a co-founder, and the startup has venture funding from Chilean VC firm Magma Partners.

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Simon Baker is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Online Marketplaces and Property Portal Watch. Involved with property portals for 15 years, he’s a well-recognized expert and industry consultant.
As former CEO/MD of the REA Group for 8 years, Simon led the group to its current market-leading position. When he joined REA Group in 2001, it had $4m in revenues, $6m in losses and an $8m market cap.
By 2008, the company presided over $155m in revenues, $35m in EBITDA and enjoyed a peak market cap of $1b. Simon is currently Chairman of the Mitula Group and Real Estate Investar and a serial portal founder and, investor.