When looking for housing in Downtown Binghamton, students frequently resort to checking bulletin boards and Craigslist, or relying on word-of-mouth. A new app is looking to change that.
Zumper is an apartment rental startup that has recently begun targeting college students looking for housing near their campuses. It has over 1 million apartment rental listings in cities and towns across the country, and is available for iOS, Android and web apps. Both the app and the website allow students to run their credit report and fill out a rental application that can be submitted to any listing provided.
Suzanne Margolis, a sophomore majoring in business administration, is one of the campus representatives for Zumper. She said the company aims to make the rental process as easy as booking a hotel by moving the application process and payment options online, so there’s no waiting in an apartment complex for hours to get a spot.
“In general, Zumper’s goal is to streamline the process of finding and applying for apartments,” Margolis said. “On campus, we are aiming to help with off-campus housing. College students are a really important group because we tend to be more open to new technology and will have a use for the application immediately or in the very near future.”
She said the process would be beneficial for both students and landlords, as it would provide the homeowners with a way to publicize their offerings and simplify the rental process.
Margolis said she joined Zumper’s campus representative program to learn marketing skills and about the company’s influence on Binghamton University’s off-campus housing process. Currently, she said, they’ve been working on targeting student housing complexes such as Twin River Commons and 20 Hawley Street Apartments, and also generally getting the word out about the service.
Another one of Zumper’s BU campus representatives is Jessica Siegal, a junior majoring in English. She says her position entails introducing the app to BU’s campus and reaching out to students who are looking for housing Downtown or in other cities.
“It is my job to reach out to my generation to show them a new app that could be very useful to them,” Siegal said. “Since college students are next-in-line for the workforce, housing is one of their top priorities upon graduation. Our aim is to expedite the process of finding and renting an apartment.”
Another key feature of the app is how it adds to the renter-landlord relationship, Margolis said. By moving much of the rental process online, the company claims to increase transparency in the rental process by putting all renting information in the open, eliminating the threat of inconsistent pricing.
Fiona Tarzy, president of Off Campus College Council (OC3) and a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said that as a representative of students living off-campus she is always concerned with landlords’ treatment of students.
“It’s actually really relevant to what we do,” Tarzy said. “What we try to push as a community is transparency for students because a lot of students get into really sticky housing situations and landlords are consistently treating students poorly because they have all the power in the situation.”
Tarzy said she hopes that the app will improve the current climate surrounding the off-campus housing search process.
“What I hope this does is portray an accurate picture of the market so that people can make their decisions wisely,” Tarzy said. “It could really change the way that students go into their housing situations.”