A startup that bypasses real estate agents and connects potential renters directly to landlords has launched in Sydney.
Rentwolf is promising complete transparency for both sides, with participants being able to view in real time what offers are coming in from potential tenants interested in the property.
“It’s kind of like what happens with the stock exchange, where you can see every single offer that’s been made,” said founder and chief executive Chris Martino.
Once the landlord has selected the successful applicant, who doesn’t necessarily have to be the person with the highest financial bid, the necessary paperwork to start the tenancy is all digitised, with the exception of the physical signatures – something that is still a legal requirement in New South Wales.
For the renter, the platform calculates an “offer to income ratio” to discourage house hunters from making bids higher than they can safely afford.
The startup has so far been funded by family and friends to the tune of $600,000, as well as a $650,000 no-interest loan from Technocrat founder Anand Vasan.
The platform formally launched in Sydney on July 12, and user registrations hit 5000 by this week, including 650 landlords.
Martino is aiming to on-board the Melbourne market soon, then seek a series A capital raising round around October to December this year.
In the longer term, revenue will come from aggregated rental bidding data, which could be on-sold to public and private institutions interested in real estate pricing trends. But before the system builds up a critical mass for that data to be meaningful, a floating $14 monthly subscription fee will be initially charged to landlords.
The $14 figure could change depending on how the data collection proceeds, Martino told Business Insider.
“At launch we finish at the contract stage, but the second thing we’ll launch in the next six months is payments,” he said, adding property management could be added to the platform beyond that.
Martino founded Rentwolf in 2011 and is also a director at AirData and Synergy Plus, as well as holding down a position as financial analyst at Indian Ocean Capital.