When I was an undergraduate, there wasn't one person I knew who didn't use Craigslist to find an off-campus apartment. It wasn't like we had much of a choice though: there really wasn't another option available to find open properties short of driving around in your car (which I still stand by as one of the best ways to score a pad).
Over the last few years though, we've seen tech platforms like Zillow and PadMapper (which are awesome), but then again I have the benefit of living in a big city. According to the team at ABODO, I'm lucky.
I was approached by the team of entrepreneurs from Madison, Wisconsin because they want to set the record straight for these smaller markets. According to them, there are thousands of smaller cities and college towns throughout the US that are seriously under-served.
“Craigslist's chaotic user interface and lack of curation and verification makes it a painful, time consuming, and risky way to search. Until now, there’s been no secure, one-stop platform allowing renters to custom search hundreds of apartments in mid-size cities and campus town,” says Michael Taus, ABODO’s Head of Growth.
I think it's important to define what Taus is saying a bit more explicitly. That is, he's not saying there are no options at all for a smaller, college town like Penn State – far from it. In fact, a cursory glance at Zillow shows far more available rentals than ABODO offers for Penn State:
Rather, Taus is claiming that there's a serious market need for a platform that offers both secure and verified rental properties. Also, while Zillow has more options available here, a lot of them are aggregated and pulled directly from Craigslist, which is something the ABODO team wants to avoid.
After all, the three cofounders decided to start their company after finding themselves in a nightmarish scenario, wading tirelessly through Craigslist posts to no avail. To that end, they built ABODO to stand out from the rest of the herd by first and foremost offering their users a sense of comfort and security knowing that all the listings are verified, safe, and secure.
And to ensure a continual flow of property listings, the ABODO team is also focusing on building and sustaining relationships with landlords while also providing free listing options for smaller properties. Not to mention they integrated a lot of features that you don't find on too many other rental platforms out there:
- Neighborhood View: Added Google Street view to every listing, so users can tour the neighborhood before visiting the property.
- Walks Score and Transit Score: Location, location location! Every listing now includes a Walk Score and Transit Score, so users know how accessible their favorite apartments are.
- Save Favorites Across Devices: Users can start searching on a laptop, then move over to their iPhone. With a simple sign in users can save and access their favorite properties on any device.
- Custom Lists: Too many listings to choose from? No problem. Users can zoom in to the neighborhood they like and then select List to see properties nearby.
- Property Videos: Love those property video tours? Now users can view property videos right on their iPhone.
- More Amenity Love: Need a fitness center? Gotta have that balcony? We know users want a place with the right amenities, so we made it even easier to find. Users can add their favorite amenities and ABODO will provide the best matches and highlight those favorites on every listing.
- Notifications: Got FOMO? No problem. With notifications enabled, users will know when new listings arrive.
To date, ABODO has grown to include more than 1 million listings across more than 400 college campuses. What do the end-users like most, so far? As the team tells me, the fact that renters can hone their search to meet specific needs versus sifting through a massive, generalized list is at the top of the list. No doubt about it, the market for rental platforms is pretty saturated, but I give the ABODO team credit for tackling the student rental angle.
Image Credit: ABODO Facebook page