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Deep Dark Secrets of New York Rentals


A startup seeks to give renters the information they need

Information, we are told, wants to be free. But ask someone how much money they make, or what they pay in rent, and even the biggest over-sharers will shut up fast.

New York startup RentHackr is looking to change that attitude, toward apartment rentals at least. The site lets users see what others are currently paying in rent, and forecasts when apartments will become available. Think of it as a Wikileaks for real estate, without all the disastrous geopolitical consequences.

“There’s a definite element of uncovering what has been hidden,” RentHackr founder Zeb Dropkin told us. “In New York for example, only 3% of the market is ever vacant in all the boroughs, 1.5% in Manhattan. That’s 97% of the market that’s opaque.”

RentHackr users share details of their rent and apartment location and are able to see what other users are paying on the same block or neighborhood. Armed with the knowledge of going rents in the area, prospective tenants can gain the upper hand in lease negotiations.

“The pain point for me is wondering, ‘Am I paying too much for rent?'” Dropkin said. “[RentHackr] is how you can make an informed decision.”

RentHackr is looking for a lead developer – check out the listing here.

Now go forth (and shed some light).

Nitty Gritty:

11/28/2010: Date Wikileaks began releasing US diplomatic cables

$3,461: Average monthly rent of a Manhattan apartment

38,000: # of rent-controlled apartments in NYC

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