Industry Interview – Harry Conti from FreshRent
Where did the idea of FreshRent come from?
About 2 years ago my business partner and I were searching for student accommodation from home, we couldn’t pop into a branch as we were back home, miles away from campus. We decided to look online at website like AccommodationForStudents and Rightmove, but the websites felt outdated, and clunky. From there we decided that there wasn’t a real solution for student accommodation search.
After looking into it, there didn’t seem to be a comprehensive system which both landlords and agencies can upload properties to – so we decided to build one!
Would you class yourselves in the bracket of #PropTech and if yes, what makes you that?
Yes! Very much so! Technology is at the heart of everything and everyone nowadays, if you look back 20 years ago, the idea of uploading your rental property to a website was a fantasy, now we have built a system which integrates with other established platforms to allow automatic property uploading. We’ve gone well past the point of writing a quick description and uploading a photo or two.
FreshRent already allows users to integrate 3D virtual tours, Videos and even 360 Walkthroughs, all this can be done seamlessly as we work the the Rightmove V3 .BLM standard, so agencies using a comprehensive back end software solution won’t even have to visit FreshRent in order to list on it, We have some great partnerships with other companies in the field and always look to collaborate Technology is making it easier and faster than ever for people to complete day to day tasks, we are simply bring student property listings into the 21st century alongside residential property listings!
We are currently in Beta, we are due to launch our V2.0 service before christmas which has some really cool features for both students and agencies, such as location services, utility management, online rent payment gateways, personalised online ESign AST, Automatic EPC and our bespoke FRESHsafe system which will ensure your property is up to date with all changes in legislation.
Is there similar concepts out there or are you unique – What is your USP that makes you stand out?
One of the main reasons we decided to launch FreshRent was because there are a number of similar services launched as a sort of after thought to the residential portal (e.g., OnTheMarket.com & Rightmove), but no one service that did it all. If you look at RightmoveStudents; Agencies can upload, but landlords cant, if you look at AccommodationForStudents; both agencies and landlords can upload, but they only offer a manual upload service, so agencies have to sit down and individually list properties which is so time consuming most agencies simply don’t bother, giving students less choice. At FreshRent we offer both manual and automatic upload options to entice both agents and landlords, giving students the widest selection of accommodation.
Unlike residential portals, no student portals seem to pass on landlord leads, we have clear incentives for landlords to send their listing to a local agency for a free valuation (The landlords gets 50% off their listing fee). At the moment this is our biggest USP for agencies.
For landlords, we offer listings like many of our competitors, but we can also put them in touch with local agencies to help them let their student property – unlike any other student portal.
For students, we offer a ‘student friendly interface’, we are one of the only sites to include options such as ‘Parking spaces available’, ‘Bills Included’, and contract length directly on the listing, at a glance students can see more information about the property than on any other portal.
Do you think that the way people search for property is changing?
Defiantly! As the major portals start to age, you can really see some exciting stuff from new entries into the market, a lot of the major portals seem to be focusing on features for agents, but not for the end user. You can see portals understand this and adapt, we now have iOS apps, Samsung TV API’s, tvOS apps and specialised digital screens to display properties. This will only be the beginning.
In partnership with 360FLY, agents will soon be able to upload virtual reality videos to FreshRent, providing headsets to walk in tenants to get a realistic 3D virtual tour. Prospective tenants can even use Google Cardboard alongside their smart phone and visit a property from home in the virtual space, directly on our site.
The technology is there, and fast becoming industry standard. Over the next few years we will see how the major player decide to utilise it, the student demographic has always been very forward thinking, and we wish to utilise that in order to be first to release these bespoke features
How important is social media to your business and to the property industry as a whole?
Social media is the only way we advertise. Its the only way we can really get 100% of our demographic interested and engaged in our content. Traditional media has been a dying art form for many years, simply its not beneficial to us.
For the wider residential market and industry as a whole, social media should play a large part in your marketing plan, social is widely becoming the go to advertising platform, with the introduction of paid for Snapchat filters, and geolocation advertising, agencies can really reach very specific parts of the market, something you wouldn’t be able to do with traditional marketing no days.
Thanks to Harry Conti from FreshRent “Ultimate Student Lettings Portal”.