A startup company aiming to make all things off-campus housing easy, perch’n, has made its way to SUNY New Paltz.
perch’n is an off-campus housing listing service connecting college students looking for rentals with property owners/managers. At this school, 53 percent of students live off-campus, making it an ideal addition to the 17 campuses that perch’n currently operates near. Additionally, New Paltz is the second most expensive place to live in Ulster County behind Gardiner, in regards to property taxes.
perch’n is currently most active in the Hudson Valley with listings in the Poughkeepsie area which encompasses Marist College, the Culinary Insitute of America, Dutchess Community College and Vassar College. According to perch’n, the area has been a great place to beta test the model because of the number of small-to-moderate sized schools and various types of communities.
According to startup team member Rhona Bork, the potential for their company was realized when they developed a custom website to help them rent their own off-campus housing; a better alternative to the college’s housing office, which lacked photos, and sites like Craigslist.
“After a while, our website proved so successful other landlords wanted us to put their houses on it as well,” Bork said. “We decided that there was definitely a need.”
perch’n provides landlords with a sophisticated listing system to show their properties in an organized manner for their prospective renters and allows for quick response to renter inquiries.
At New Paltz, students have used an online bulletin service that accepts listing from landlords who have housing in the area. According to start-up team member Jonathan Kossar, this list is outdated and difficult to navigate.
“The growing need for housing in this community coupled with students’ natural affinity for digital applications and tools make traditional methods like the bulletin service obsolete,” he said.
Third-year early childhood education major Karen Pass described the bulletin system as “all right” and said that the graphics are outdated, making the page look cluttered and unorganized.
“The bulletin keeps all posts, even after the landlord has found a tenant for the room/property,” Pass said. “On top of that, there are multiple posts for the same room/property, which makes it chard to filter through the posts.”
perchn.com provides searchable listings with filtering ability and maps showing locations relative to campus making it easy for students to quickly find optimal housing options. There is also a roommate search and subletting feature.
The website has its own internal messaging system that protects the user’s contact information in order to maintain privacy while communicating with landlords. Users have the ability to share favorites with family and friends coupled with live chat capability.
perchn.com also provides a platform for users to sell unwanted furniture or appliances in their local off-campus community and a review function so that others can see the opinions of previous renters.
The company is in the process of developing a mobile app, since over half of their views on perchn.com have been on mobile devices.
“We’ve worked hard to make perch’n intuitive to use and give renters many tools that allow them to search and locate the best choices available for them,” Bork said. “We continue to upgrade and tune our software and our outreach to the communities we serve responding to the needs of our users.”