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Nat Levy
Real Estate Reporter

March 10, 2016

Real Estate Buzz -- OneRent: Startup uses an Uber approach to streamline property management services

Real Estate Reporter

In tech hubs like Seattle and San Francisco, the origin of many startups can be traced to someone's frustrating experience with technology or an industry that seems outdated and inefficient.

That's how OneRent, a property management platform for renters and property owners, came to be.

Four friends — Chuck Hattemer, Greg Toschi, Arman Dezfuli-Arjomandi and Rico Mok — were students at Santa Clara University in California and had a hard time trying to rent a house off campus. They couldn't get landlords and property managers to respond to them, and many fellow students shared similar experiences.

In March 2014, they founded an online business called OneRent, with an office in San Jose.

Hattemer calls it the first “end-to-end” property management service. It deals with almost everything: listing properties, finding tenants, showing units, taking applications, coordinating move-ins and processing repair requests. The site also seeks and incorporates feedback from renters.

Instead of waiting for a call back from someone, a prospective tenant can schedule a showing through the website. OneRent contracts with people who show units, and potential tenants can submit a rental application online right away if they like what they see.

“We are really pushing for that one-click rental experience where someone can show up at a house and say, ‘I love this place' and rent it on the spot,” Hattemer said.



The company recently expanded to offer its services in Seattle and has plans to enter other markets. The website lists rentals in Seattle, Bellevue and Mercer Island as well as the San Francisco Bay Area, but OneRent still has just a single office in San Jose.

One advantage for landlords is that OneRent gets properties onto the top listing sites. It also screens tenants, and handles showings, move-ins and rent collection. OneRent says the pricing structure for landlords is simple: it takes 5 percent of rent.

Hattemer said property management hasn't changed much for decades. He said his research shows there are more than 200,000 property management companies in the U.S., but not one of them has more than a 1 percent market share. The Buzz could not confirm these stats.

Originally, the team wanted to use the platform to list properties for rent and simplify the application process, so they drove around asking property managers to sign up.



“As we did that we realized how outdated those operations were,” Hattemer said.

Hattemer said property management, specifically for the single-family market, is usually coupled with more lucrative businesses such as property sales, so there isn't a lot of incentive for change or innovation.

OneRent founders say one innovation they offer is a network of “on-demand” property managers and maintenance workers. Contractors for showings and move-ins have experience in real estate, sales and customer service, but they are usually not affiliated with a property management firm. All the repair crews are licensed, insured and bonded.

The on-demand model allows OneRent to expand quickly into new markets without opening offices.

Each of the founders brings different skills to OneRent. Hattemer's focus is marketing. He worked at a startup called Nimble Storage for two years while in college and helped run a web-design business with his brothers while in high school on Mercer Island, where he lived from 2001 to 2012.

Toschi, who is CEO of OneRent, majored in finance and earned his real estate license. He interned at a development firm and built a network of contacts within the real estate industry before meeting the other co-founders. Dezfuli-Arjomandi, the chief technology officer, studied computer engineering. He has worked on a number of software projects and designs products for OneRent.

Mok is chief operating officer, and studied operations management in college. He was born in Australia and came to the U.S. seven years ago because of his interest in technology. He built one of the early sports-streaming platforms and first got into startup culture at age 18.

Downtown Bellevue is tops

Bellevue has the fourth best downtown among small and mid-sized U.S. cities, according to Livability.com, a website that says it explores what makes small and mid-sized cities great places to live.

Bellevue finished behind Alexandria, Virginia; Santa Monica, California; and Greenville, South Carolina.

Today, about 12,000 people live in downtown Bellevue, and planners expect most of the city's growth will be downtown. Bellevue had the highest projected annual growth rate of the top 10 downtowns.

Other factors in Bellevue's favor: a variety of places to eat and plenty of high-end retailers.

Livability.com said it looks for low vacancy rates, new development and a growing population in ranking cities.

What does Capitol Hill want?

Development around Capitol Hill's light rail station will have a big impact on that neighborhood, so the local advocacy group Capitol Hill Champion is looking for someone to find out what people on the hill want to see.

Champion is looking for feedback about new development from underrepresented groups in the neighborhood. The city's Department of Neighborhoods provided a grant for the position, which is a part-time outreach assistant.

The work will be done from April through November, and the hourly pay is $15.

The station opens March 19. Capitol Hill Champion said the developers, Gerding Edlen and Capitol Hill Housing, are expected to begin construction on transit-oriented projects in 2017.

Got a tip? Contact DJC real estate editor Brian Miller at brian.miller@djc.com or call him at (206) 219-6517.

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