Finding the right apartment in a tight market can be tough enough. Once you move forward and submit an application, waiting days or even weeks for approval can be a nerve-wracking, frustrating experience.
Seeking to help, apartment-rental property search app Zumper just introduced Book Now, a 24-hour response program designed to help landlords and renters move through the decision process in as little as 15 minutes. Today Zumper announced its first three test markets for the fast-answer feature.
You can search Zumper for apartments anywhere in the U.S. Zumper CEO Anthemos Georgiades told Digital Trends in 2016 that young professionals in San Francisco use the app to monitor prices in their neighborhoods.
Before a wider rollout, Book Now properties initially will be limited to three metro areas. The program starts today, December 5, in Chicago. Denver and New York City are next on the list.
Because Zumper’s role with the Book Now program goes beyond an online marketplace, the company must have licensed real estate agents where it offers the service. Zumper real estate agents represent the landlords.
For a rental property to be listed in Zumper’s Book Now program, the landlord must agree to approve or decline applications within 24 hours of submission. The app uses automated notifications to move both parties through the process and Zumper has a support team in addition to the local real estate agents.
When an apartment hunter sees a Book Now property they like, the first step is to create an account on the site and pay a reservation-hold fee with a credit card to receive a rental application and generate a credit report. Georgiades told Digital Trends it’s a good idea to create an account even before searching for likely properties to be ready to apply as soon as you find a suitable apartment.
According to a Zumper representative, prospective tenants “should be approved” if they have a 650 or higher credit score, three to four times the rent in monthly income, and no evictions or criminal convictions. It takes just 10 minutes to complete an application, the company says, and if a landlord acts quickly, renters can get a decision within 15 minutes.
If an applicant is declined, Zumper said in an email “The renter gets an email with alternate properties to look at. The renter can also contact one of our leasing experts for more information on why he/she was declined, and we’ll offer suggestions to help get qualified (e.g., tools to help improve their credit scores, set them up with a guarantor, etc).”
Zumper doesn’t guarantee 24-hour decisions or that landlords will approve applicants who meet the above criteria. The expedited time frame is a goal, and Zumper has set up an automated mechanism with human-assisted backup to meet or beat the 24-hour time frame. It will be interesting to hear how well the pilot programs do in cutting renter approval decision times in the first three markets.