SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Looking for an apartment in the Bay Area is no walk in the park — especially if that park outside of your would-be window is prone to criminal activity or loud neighbors.
The website Swapt claims to ease some of the anxiety that comes with apartment hunting by providing renters with reviews that cover over 500,000 apartment units throughout the nation.
Founded by 31-year-old former housing industries analyst Eric Wolfe, Swapt allows users to leave detailed reviews and rate the places where they’ve lived in order to help others make informed decisions about where they want to rent.
Past renters know while an apartment may appear fine during an open house, a bad landlord or rude neighbors often aren’t revealed until after the moving boxes are unpacked. Wolfe said Swapt aims to help renters avoid those issues from the beginning.
“It’s not always easy finding good info online,” Wolfe said. “Brokers present one side of the story. Swapt wants the other side of story; the perspective from the consumer of the product.”
The service is already available across the U.S., with a focus on San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York. Wolfe describes these markets as some of the most confusing and competitive where renters often feel forced into a housing option and are more worried about not making an awful decision rather than finding their “dream” apartment.
Swapt has plans to tap into social networks like Facebook or Nextdoor to share knowledge between acquaintances who are leaving apartments and those who want to move in.
Despite numerous user-generated apartment directories on the market, Wolfe said Swapt has thousands of apartment reviews since launching in beta two months ago, already surpassing Yelp’s apartment reviews in San Francisco.
Compared to Yelp, Swapt has 1,912 residential review in San Francisco versus 1,765 for Yelp. About 856 of Swapt’s reviews covers residential properties while Yelp features 196 properties with 12 percent of their total reviews in San Francisco coming from just one property, Parkmerced.
“It’s clear that our method not only works well, but is well-liked by users,” Wolfe said.