Category Product Reviews: Avail – GeekEstate Blog

Category Product Reviews: Avail – GeekEstate Blog

[Note from editor: The Geek Estate Mastermind is a real estate tech think-tank comprised of 200+ founders, executives, VCs, and practitioners. Our mission is to attract the 1,500 most forward-thinking, and diverse, innovators.

Below is a sample of one of the in-depth category reviews from our small landlord property management software mini-series that members have full access to for only $109/quarter.]

Without further ado…

BY DREW MEYERS
Last Updated Jun 16, 2019

Avail is property management software for DIY landlords that serves 115,000 landlords and more than 200,000 tenants / renters. Their product streamlines online rental listings, applications, lease templates, rental payments, maintenance requests, and tenant vetting. Landlords are managing single family homes, condo units, and small multifamily buildings in 17,000 zip codes nationwide.

Founded in 2012 and a member of MetaProp’s 2015/2016 class. Have raised $5.4 million, including $2.5 million this year. Formerly operated as Rentalutions until their re-brand in June of 2018.


MARKETING

the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service

Usability

Entering photos, pricing, and availability is straightforward and clean. Publishing a property is an 11 step process.

No native iOS or Android apps.

Differentiation

Rent Analysis: The 6 page report helps determine the optimal monthly rent for the specified property. Powered by Rent Range, Avail charges landlords $19.99 per report.

Marketing Website: It’s one click to activate a marketing website, for those on a paid plan. This is geared toward the landlords with 5+ properties.

Auto populating home facts: After inputting the property address, beds, baths, and square footage are auto populated.

Utilities Included: The ability to indicate which utilities are part of the monthly rent is a nice feature for tenants. In my case (renting a townhome from a DIY landlord), garbage and water are covered in the rent while electricity, internet, and gas are not.

Amenity Icons: While not crucial to improving the software’s functionality, it’s a nice design touch.

Insights

With Zillow’s Rent Zestimates as a free alternative to paid rent reports, I question how many landlords pay for the in-depth reports.

I like the ease of activating their marketing websites that landlords can use for their own lead generation efforts. The sweet spot is those without enough properties to make investing in a professional website worthwhile, but want a landing page to bring added legitimacy. They are following a similar strategy as Zillow providing agent websites, but for landlords instead of agents.

Links


ADVERTISING

a public notice. especially: one published in the press or broadcast over the air

Usability

Avail syndicates active listings to Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, Zumper (which we reviewed in Part III), as well as Apartments.com, apartment list, Walk Score, and PadMapper.

Differentiation

Breadth of Syndication: While Facebook and Realtor.com would be nice additions, they syndicate more broadly than any of their competitors.

Rental marketplace: A search portal for tenants to find properties posted on the Avail platform.

Insights

They are betting big on syndication. Cozy syndicates to Realtor.com and Doorsteps.com, while Zumper has a relationship with Facebook Marketplace. The Zillow relationship is crucial for Avail, and I have to imagine a Facebook partnership is at the top of their wish/priority list.

Building their own rental marketplace is a smart long term play that will give them leverage. A network/portal will increase their future ability to add tenant facing features such as a loyalty program, financing (such as a deal with Rhove or Digs), and verified properties. That said, accepting listings from other sources will be required if they ever plan to be a viable rental search portal. Building a search portal is a risk in terms of splitting product focus/resources in the short term.

Showcasing Redfin in their “My Team” section indicates they are thinking about monetizing landlords who choose to sell rather than continue renting.

Links


APPLICATION

a formal request to an authority for something

Usability

Simple to request applications. If you haven’t collected Renter Profiles using syndication partners or the lead generation website, then simply enter the email address of the prospective tenant to send them the application.

3 tiers of tenant verification, powered by TransUnion:

  1. Renter Profile (Free): Job History, Rental History, Income Verification
  2. Credit Report ($25): Credit Score, Adverse Items, & Credit History + Renter Profiles.
  3. Full Bundle ($45): Nationwide Criminal,Terrorist List, Sex Offender List, & Evictions + Renter Profile & Credit Report Info

Differentiation

Choice in Payment: Landlords can cover the application fees or have the potential tenant pay.

Re-Use of Applications: Tenants can apply to multiple properties using the same application, saving them from paying another fee.

Customizable applications: An upgraded feature that requires you to be on the Landlord Plan or higher. Allows for adding customized questions into the applications on a per applicant level, or across all applicants. You can complete this in the “applications” tab under step #3 when sending off an application request.

Privacy: Avail’s business model allows them to make a promise to not share tenant data with 3rd parties.

Insights

The option to absorb the screening costs is a great feature for landlords in need of differentiating to secure a desirable tenant. They are the clear winner in flexibility, made possible by their business model.

I’m anxious to see whether they crack the nut of allowing screened tenants to use their credit/background reports to apply to properties posted outside Avail’s ecosystem.

Making privacy a core part of the pitch to both landlords and tenants is an opportunity to differentiate against any media/portal model (e.g. Zillow and Zumper).

Links


SCREENING

to select, reject, consider, or group by examining systematically

Usability

It’s easy to compare tenants, communicate with them, and quickly access their reports.

Differentiation

Tenant pays: They default to tenants being charged for reports, though landlords can absorb those costs.

Reference Checks: They automatically reach out to prior landlords via email so tenants/landlords don’t have to.

Side-by-side Comparison: A nice feature when whittling down a list of prospective tenants.

Grouping of roommates: Important feature for those renting larger houses to a set of roommates rather than to one individual.

Insights

The reference checks is a fantastic built in marketing channel. My last three landlords have all been DIY and none have used Avail. Each of them were notified of Avail when I put them into my renter profile.

Links


SIGNATURES

a person’s name written in a distinctive way as a form of identification

Usability

Digital signatures with their leases are supported.

Insights

Digital signatures are table stakes in today’s property management software landscape.

Links


MOVING

to relinquish or take possession of a new property

Usability

They recommend Two Men and a Truck to tenants to help with moving.

Differentiation

Tenant + Lease Data: The combination of renter profiles with current address and lease agreements with the new rental address allows for production of a moving quote without a plethora of additional tenant data input.

Insights

With their partnerships with State Farm and Two Men and a Truck, I’m surprised they don’t have an integration/partnership with a cleaning company to further improve efficiency of the move-in/out process. One major challenge is the lack of nationwide solutions with the on the ground operations required to serve their client base.

Links


PAYMENTS

to give in return for goods or service

Usability

Standard credit card authorization for submitting applications.

ACH and credit cards accepted for monthly rent payments. Follows National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) standards to process rent payments.

Seamless for tenants to connect bank accounts from a wide variety of financial institutions.

Differentiation

FastPay: A new feature, lets Avail process payments the next day rather than the several day turnaround time required by ACH transfers.

CreditBoost: A nice feature for tenants to benefit from on-time payments by reporting them to TransUnion. Landlords, if they turn the feature on, can send a negative report for late payment of more than 30 days.

Multiple Bank Accounts: Ability to add multiple payment sources, so that tenants can alternate monthly payments if needed. Or put a payment on a credit card when cash is in short supply. I’ve successfully paid rent with both my Bank of America account and my girlfriend’s CitiBank account.

Property specific bank accounts: For landlords who run multiple properties through separate LLCs.

Insights

It’s clear they’ve spent considerable time making payments a core part of their offering. The FastPay is an impressive technical feat to deliver next day processing, though it wouldn’t seem so from the surface. The breadth of their financial integrations is a significant strategic advantage.

Links


COMMUNICATIONS

the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information

Usability

Simple for tenants to log a repair request with a description and photos. The landlord can communicate status updates via the in-app messaging system.

Differentiation

Maintenance Requests & Tracking: A huge pain point usually handled via long emails/texts with photo attachments. Centralizing the entire process makes Avail even more critical to the landlord’s day-to-day operations.

Insights

Avail has ample opportunity to integrate with a maintenance solution such as KeepeZingFix, or even a home manager service such as Setter. Doing so would be a win for landlords and tenants, as well as Avail’s bottom line.

Links


COMPLIANCE

conformity in fulfilling official requirements

Usability

They provide lawyer-approved, state-specific templates and integrated rental insurance.

Differentiation

Compliant Landlord-Tenant Leases: Their leases include all the clauses, disclosures and attachments needed to be compliant with local ordinances.

Insights

While aggregating state laws is not a defensible moat since it’s all public information, it’s a nice feature to set themselves apart.

They have a longstanding partnership with State Farm allowing them to monetize renter’s insurance while increasing compliance. Adding other options such as Hippo and Lemonade would give tenants choice and increase trust in the process.

Links


ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

MetaProp Demo Day Presentation:

Ryan Coon interview with Nate Smoyer:


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