Apartment Living

Websites Serving The NYC Short-Term, Sublet, Rental Spectrum

Websites Serving The NYC Short-Term, Sublet, Rental Spectrum

When people mention sublet websites, there are seemingly many choices in a crowded space. That’s weird, because Harvard Business School professors Peter Coles, Ben Edelman, and Mike Luca found that a strong marketplace network effect should consolidate the ecosystem into a few winners.

Why So Many Sublet Websites In New York City?

Each sublet website actually serves a different occupancy duration niche along the spectrum of sublet rentals. The key to understanding the sublet market is to break down tenants and landlords into categories by length of stay.

Vacation Stays: Airbnb / VRBO /

The ultra short term housing sites operate more like inns and small hotels. Guests come for a week or two, sometimes only a weekend, and occasionally just one night. Airbnb is by far the largest marketplace by almost any measure, but we should mention’s increasing inventory of short-term housing. aggregates hotel listings and runs a much larger hotel inventory, comparable to Expedia. But they’ve got their eyes on short-term and have heavily recruited hosts to their platform.

Short-Term Housing / Serviced Apartments

There is an industry built around corporate professionals relocating to new cities, and New York City is full of them. Sometimes called corporate housing or serviced apartments, these units are designed for stays of one to three months. They are generally too short to be of interest for brokers, and too long to fall under the hotel and vacation stay category.

Unfortunately, this is one of the most fragmented of all markets. You wouldn’t want to rent one of these sight-unseen, if you can avoid it. That rules out sites that collect payment up front, such as Airbnb. But no one can grind out a living showing 1-month stays all day long; even if there were great deals, who would pay the commission?

To find serviced apartments, you will need to do most of the legwork on your own. To start, try the extended-stay sections of your favorite hotel search sites, and you can find monthly occupancy rates. Still, not many buildings can list themselves on Expedia and Priceline, so you should also scour ads on social media and Craigslist.

Lease Breaking Websites

People still call these sublets when searching on Google, but a lease break can take many forms. If a tenant needs to leave mid-lease, it’s important to loop in the landlord to find out your options. Sometimes, the landlord will want someone to assign the remainder of the lease; other times the new tenant signs an entirely new lease (potentially with a fee to the breaker). The duration of stay tends to be 3 to 9 months in the assignment case.

Sublets and For Rent By Owner Listings

Sublets are a broad term, but some of the best sublet deals come from For Rent By Owner listings. You can search on RentHop for NYC Sublets of both types – a condo owner with an exclusive for example, or a lease breaker with landlord willing to renew for 12 months.

When searching for sublets, the listings will often be interchangeable with full-fledged landlord listings for vacant apartments, or brokered exclusives looking for 12 month or longer lease. In that case, is there an advantage to having a separate section?



RentHop Sublet Solution: FRBO Postings, Multiple Search Categories

When catering to the For Rent By Owner crowd, our team realized they clearly have different needs than the leasing office of a large building. Safety and verification is much more important for individual owners, as they likely won’t have any online presence or reliable research the poster prior to meeting.

On the outward facing search result for consumers, we do mix the results and provide special filters and tags We tag them with a special “By Owner” tag, so you can filter for them, and we require the full address be shown on the listing. Next time we will discuss the search-engine side features we built to help you find the best sublet, leasebreak, and FRBO deals.

Published at Thu, 23 Jan 2020 15:40:37 +0000

Breaking Down The Stratus, REBNY, RLS, And Perchwell Claims

Yesterday we discussed the Game of Thrones level drama that has erupted between the various REBNY and RLS vendors. We obtained and read through some of the claims laid out in the Stratus Data Systems demand letter to REBNY. Here are some key arguments.

REBNY and Stratus Always Agreed On Data Ownership

Usually these API and data disputes are at the heart of who owns the data. REBNY seems to have that covered in their original contract with Stratus. No one seems to dispute that the data belongs to the brokerages, and Stratus the vendor never owned the data.

Data Schema, Software Methodology, and API Design In Dispute

However, Stratus claims the way they crafted the data schema is proprietary. Moreover, vendors using the system were prohibited from reverse-engineering or copying the software and related methods for distributing the RLS Data of New York apartment listings, and how they syndicate to NYC real estate marketplace portal websites.



In the NYC ecosystem, RentHop and RealtyHop are Syndication Portals.  Client Vendors include RealtyMX, Nestio, OLR, and Perchwell.  A separate company usually implements the RETS server.  (Hat tip  Wright Strategy Advisors)

Perchwell Replacement Is a URL Change To Identical System

As evidence that Perchwell is in violation of the agreement, Stratus points out REBNY alledgedly told other vendors that transitioning to Perchwell would be seamless. No methods of querying, inserting, or reading data from the RLS will require changes. The only changes would be a URL change to point to a new server, and a new set of credentials.

Of course, Perchwell and REBNY had planned further modifications, but Stratus claims the initial transition is a reverse-engineering of their proprietary systems and a violation of their agreement.

Both Systems Use Industry-Standard RETS specification and API

To make things more complicated, the Stratus system is compliant with a widely used industry standard called RETS. It is neither an API or a schema, but a data transport standard. It mandates many of the API calls that a RETS server should implement, a general way of laying out the data schema, AND a query language for inserting and selecting data.

There are many RETS implementations already out in the world, many open source. However, details of how to make a local marketplace fit into a RETS implementation is left unspecified.

That’s a good idea, because it allows the local brokers and websites to accommodate local peculiarities. For example, in some cities the property types will be “House” vs “Mobile Home” vs “Farm”. In NYC, you instead see “Condo”, “Co-op”, and “Townhouse“.

No Stolen Code, No Stolen Data, Industry-Standard API, Proprietary Implementation Of Schema

So where does that leave us? No one has stolen any code or any data! However, did they steal by reverse engineering the proprietary technology architecture? Is it proprietary when we are talking about a widely used industry standard, but with customizations tailored to the New York market?

For the geeks out there, it’s not quite like REST, which is purely a transport standard on top of HTTP. RETS clearly mandates some real estate specific endpoints, methods of querying, and an architecture built around iterating through a multiple listings service.

But it’s also not the same as a ready-to-use SQL schema where all tables, columns, and indexes are in place, and all that is left to do is drop in the data. RETS requires the implementation to think carefully about what data fields are necessary and how they might be linked. For example, is every listing part of a unit? Is every unit a part of a building? Can a unit be part of two buildings?

I am not a lawyer. I am not an expert in IP law. However, I am a data nerd, software engineer, and real estate enthusiast. We will continue the 3rd part of our analysis next time!

Published at Wed, 22 Jan 2020 14:02:03 +0000