Sliced Bread, a startup and app studio founded in 2010, today officially announced the private beta of its newest creation, RentingWell. RentingWell provides a web-based tool for managing rental properties, designed with ease of use in mind, with the ultimate goal of making it simple for landlords to track their expenses, payments and income to take the sting out of tax time. It also provides a way for property owners to keep track of tenants, contractors and preferred vendors, and will also soon provide a tool to help with marketing, making it a triple threat.
RentingWell, which Sliced Bread bootstrapped from funds resulting from its sale of Hello Referrals last year, is designed around the idea that existing tools either aren’t simple enough, making them intimidating for hobby real estate owners, or are tailored more toward U.S. markets, leaving out the international large landlord market, which is worth an estimated $3 billion a year. RentingWell co-founder Chris Saracino told BetaKit in an interview that despite the presence of competition like RentPost, he thinks his tool addresses different needs.
“We wanted to create something that when you logged in, it didn’t look like a panel from a space shuttle,” he said. Saracino notes that RentPost and other similar tools are often aimed at American landlords, which can make them particularly complex and intimidating given how much laws and regulations vary from state to state. Even so, Saracino said the plan is to look at international expansion eventually, both for North America and beyond, though it will take time to negotiate the various peculiarities associated with each market. The value prospect behind RentingWell aims at simplicity, as well as being a one-stop tool for a variety of landlord-focused features.
“Most landlords, believe it or not, are usuaully using Excel spreadsheets, following email threads, and they struggle at the end of the year with a declaration of additional income at the end of the year for tax purposes,” Saracino said. “We wanted to give them something that would do that, and that would also facilitate tenant conversations, issue resolution, and give you a single spot on the web that would give you kind of a dashboard view with everything going on with a building, or even a portfolio of buildings.”
Saracino notes that a surprising number of landlords don’t track contractors and tradesmen, so they’re often left not knowing who to call when they need something fixed or renovated, even if they’ve had a positive experience with a specific company or individual in the past. The built-in contact manager allows landlords to keep track of who they use for certain jobs, and to make notes about their performance so they’ll remember who to call – and who not to – next time around.
The RentingWell team also plans to roll out a marketing manager for landlords as part of the product in the coming months. That will provide an easy tool that allows property owners to prepare attractive landing pages for their listings, complete with lots of pictures. Landlords can then include links to their property pages in listings posted to Craigslist, Kijiji and other popular online rental spots.
Landlords pay for RentingWell, which offers only paid services at tiers ranging from $10 t0 $50 per month, depending on how many properties a user wants to be able to manage (RentPost’s plans range from $9 to $169 per month). It’s designed to pay for itself in terms of time saved, Saracino says, and also provide landlords with a comprehensive way to track issue resolution, which could also help it pay for itself in terms of contributing to the resolution of potential legal claims. Saracino and company are also planning future feature additions, including possibly a document store that would provide easy access to things like lease agreements and other rental-related docs.
Real estate is a market that’s been slow to pick up on online and cloud-based trends, due in part to how complicated and locally specific an industry it can be. RentingWell answers those challenges by being as simple as possible while still remaining relevant to a specific market. It’s narrow focus may limit is ability to scale, but it does offer clear value if it can get the word out among its target demographic. And further down the road, its simple approach may help it have an easier time with international expansion than others in the same business. But it does face competition from RentPost, which launched in January after being in development for two years. It’s looking to solve the same problems for the same set of users, and with a base of early users, it might be just as well-positioned as RentingWell to tackle property management.