MyNewPlace promises easier apartment hunting

Site plans to implement Web 2.0 technologies to give renters an easier way to find apartment that suits them.

MyNewPlace, an online apartment search service using an innovative combination of user-created content, map mashups and other Web 2.0 technologies, debuted Monday.

MyNewPlace is launching with a database of more than 6 million currently available apartments throughout the United States, said CEO John Helm.

The site, which describes itself as being in beta still, is expected to compete with the likes of Rent.com and Craigslist--though much more so in cities like San Francisco and New York than in cities like Dallas, Helm said.

The site differentiates itself from competitors by giving would-be renters the opportunity to post blog entries talking about their experiences and asking for tips, and by also providing Google maps showing apartments' locations with even the simplest searches, Helm said.

Further, MyNewPlace gives renters specific information about potential apartments, even without asking for registration.

The site's business model is what Helm called "Pay for performance." That is, apartment owners pay MyNewPlace a fee when a unit is rented using the service. In return, MyNewPlace users get a rebate of around $100 when they sign their rental agreement.

The site is also built with advanced search tools that allow renters to specify up to 20 different criteria to look for, including pets, type of pets, location, number of bedrooms and so on.

"We have the most robust way for them to take a 6 million (apartment) database," said Helm, "and sift it down to the five or six they want to go visit on a Saturday afternoon."

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