This New App Eliminates Broker Fees

Photo: Oliver Online Inc.
When hunting for a new apartment, many of us hire brokers to help reduce the stress of the search. They know which landlords are trustworthy, which pads come with a dishwasher, and whether or not Fido will be able to join us in our new digs. But the inevitable broker fee is a headache in and of itself; in some cities, like NYC, it increases the first year's rent by 15%. We'd much rather spend that money on a fabulous couch or artwork for our new home. That's where Oliver comes in. Created by tech expert Yossi Shemesh and real estate developer Amir Shriki, Oliver is a new app that's designed to help users "rent an apartment seamlessly without a broker." Unlike services such as StreetEasy and Zillow, which make a profit from charging the middlemen, Oliver eliminates the involvement of brokers altogether. As Shemesh told TechCrunch, "We plan on...becoming the Uber for rental, where you actually connect directly...with the apartment / landlord." Oliver users simply choose an apartment of their liking and schedule a time to meet with the landlord. Brokers may argue that this method doesn't weed out suspicious landlords and shady rentals, but, as TechCrunch put it, "If the sharing economy has proven anything, it’s that services like this can work quite well when the landlords do a little work, and most apartments require applications and credit checks anyway." The app, which launched in Manhattan a month ago and has raised $1 million in its seed round, is rolling out its service in Brooklyn this weekend.

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