Tagged: Allison DeAngelis

BU students’ startup digitizes real estate game

By Allison DeAngelis, Daily Free Press staff

Take one part Google+, one part Facebook and another part real estate agent and out comes SocialRent, the apartment-finding application created and programmed by five BU students over winter break. The application works to help young adults find roommates and housing over the Internet.

Founded by School of Management senior James Zar and College of General Studies freshman Brandon Cohen, SocialRent was created to solve a problem the boys saw amongst peers looking for apartments.

“There is no one else focused on the customer, that’s focused on making the renter or the group of students have the best experience possible,” Zar said. “The truth is there’s no one doing that right now, except for us, and we’re proud to say that.”

After four weeks of winter break spent working 12 hour days, the finished product emerged as an application on Facebook where friends looking for housing can collaborate on their ideal place to live, each with the ability to make changes in a format that Cohen says resembles Google+.

After logging onto Facebook and downloading the app, users choose their ideal location on the “area chooser” map and rent limit. From there, they drag and drop the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. that they prefer onto the “place creator blueprint.”

Almost immediately after it launched, one of Conrad’s friends used the site instead of a local realtor. After the agent showed the girls a rat-infested former-frat house, “I said, ‘Don’t use them, use our app… We’ll just take care of it,’ and she was like, ‘perfect.’”

Photo courtesy of SocialRent Facebook Page

Users have flocked to SocialRent since it hit the web on Jan. 17, and Zar estimates that they already have around 700 housing projects in the works and more than 1,000 users.

Conrad said he was surprised by how quickly people began signing up with the site. “One time I checked [the amount of users], it was about 450, and the next time I checked [the amount], it was like 800. So it went two-fold in two days,” he said.

SocialRent now partners with 15 real estate agents nationwide. They currently work with realtors in ten different cities, but stress that the very day they get a request from a user, they work to make a relationship with a real estate agent in that town.

As they expand naturally, they look to put SocialRent in “college- and high-tech cities where young adults and recent grads live—the millennial generation, as we refer to it,” said Zar.

Despite the positive feedback from BU students in particular, the team still has work to do on the site. They continue to look for investors to “accelerate their growth process,” but having just returned to school, they are focusing on fortifying the experience users are having as well as juggling the business with schoolwork.

When asked how he was handling the workload as a programmer for the site, CAS junior Jeffrey Giardina said, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. It’s a good idea and it’s getting a lot of press, a lot of users. It is tough, but we just try to make it work.”

Keep an eye out for this new start-up, and the changes they’re planning to make, including a “roommate finder” and a way for users and their parents to process forms digitally.