Apartment-finder service Urban Igloo just opened a Philly branch at 20th and Walnut streets in Center City. The company, which started in D.C. three years ago, calls itself a "matchmaker for renters and landlords."
"A lot of people just don't have time to deal with finding an apartment, and don't want to get frustrated dealing with Craigslist and search engines," says Debbie Kaplan, Urban Igloo's chief operating officer. "And our service is free, so why not?"
Urban Igloo picked Philadelphia as its next location because of the city's large transient student population and strong rental market, Kaplan says. Those sick of search engines can sit down with an Urban Igloo leasing agent, list their requirements and get taken on a guided tour of available apartments that fit the bill. There's no charge for renters; when a lease is signed, Urban Igloo gets the equivalent of one month's rent from the landlord.
The company has a growing inventory of apartments in the city and immediate suburbs, mostly in smallish buildings in the 20-unit range that don't have their own leasing staff.
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"The first step is really culling down what the renter is looking for," Kaplan says. "The agent has to understand what is a must-have and what would be nice to have. Then they can navigate the renter though the process, which can be very, very stressful otherwise."
New to the city??Hop on in
New to Philly? Urban Igloo offers half-day tours of the city for $289. Sign up and one of the leasing agents will ferry you around town in the bright-blue Urban Igloo car to help you narrow down where to live. "It's for a renter who doesn't know anything about the city and just wants to get a feel for the different neighborhoods," says Kaplan. "We'll show them the local grocery stores, bars, yoga studio -- whatever they want."