Why this startup thinks it can take on Craigslist and Airbnb

San Francisco #1 HomesuiteHomesuiteA Homesuite rental in San Francisco.

Housing is being attacked from all sides in San Francisco: the short-term rental market may be capped by the city government, while long-term tenants are being forced out of their rentals by owners who want to sell them or turn them into condos.

Homesuite, a six-month old startup out of Palo Alto, is trying to carve out its niche somewhere in the middle by offering renters something they don’t normally see on Craiglist or Airbnb.

Homesuite only offers furnished, monthly rentals where the minimum stay is at least 30 days.

It’s what allows the company to have an actual broker’s licence, which could let it steer clear of the regulation pitfalls like Airbnb is currently battling, said its founder David Adams.

While most monthly housing is geared toward corporations, Homesuite is trying to make it an alternative to long-term rentals and boost the housing supply stock — at least a small amount, Adams said. Furnished, monthly rentals only make up two to three per cent of the market in San Francisco, Adams calculated, but making it easy to tap into that could help the housing crunch in the Bay Area.

“Typically this market is corporate housing,” Adams said. “We want to make it something that is accessible to people looking for long term homes.”

San Francisco #2HomesuiteA Homesuite rental in San Francisco. Each one comes furnished and has to be rented for at least 30 days.

Adams founded the startup after he found himself moving from place to place, crashing in hotels or sublets, and not having many options that had been vetted and were easy to secure.

It also fits Adams’ personal lifestyle of owning little and moving often.

He’s in a “Homesuite” of his own right now, but is considering moving up to San Francisco to live closer to his girlfriend. If the commute to the company’s offices in Palo Alto proves to be too long, then he can always move back to a different apartment down in the Peninsula.

HomeSuite @ Home #2HomesuiteThe Homesuite team working out of their first office: a Palo Alto garage.

This isn’t just another Silicon Valley startup designed for Silicon Valley, though.

Homesuite wants to make what’s typically corporate housing available to people like visiting academics, patients who may need treatments for a few months, or newcomers to a city who are looking to get a feel for where to live without needing to buy furniture.

“The people in our market, they are very busy,” Adams said. “They are not looking for a social experience. They are looking for an easy experience.”

Palo Alto #1HomesuiteA Palo Alto rental on Homesuite.

The easy part does come with a bit of a price hike, which the company openly acknowledges on its site.

Homesuite takes a commission on the rental, so the prices are higher than if you went through the landlord directly. Some of the landlords they work with are normally corporate rentals, while others are putting their properties up for rent on a monthly basis rather than yearly.

The company raised $US2.3 million in December 2014 from Battery Ventures, Foundation Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and the co-founder of GrubHub before it launched in January 2015.

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