• Renters often pay a broker 10% to 20% of annual rent
for an apartment in New York City.
• Two former Google employees founded a peer-to-peer
rental site to get rid of this fee.
• Outgoing tenants are paid up to half a month’s rent for
finding a new tenant, either by their landlord or the incoming
There’s a seemingly endless supply of apartment buildings lining
the streets of New York City. And yet, finding a livable rental
is often an exhaustive and wickedly expensive process.
Many apartment hunters turn to real estate brokers, who charge a
fee of 10% to 20% of annual rent for their services. Slap a 15%
broker fee — the industry standard — on top of the $3,500
median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, and
you’re handing over nearly $10,000 right out of the gate, not to
mention the security deposit or moving costs.
Joinery, an apartment listing
marketplace founded by former Google employees Julia Ramsey and
Vianney Brandicourt, aims to fix this.
Ramsey, 31, and Brandicourt, 32, met while working on a project
years ago in Google’s Paris office. They stayed in touch when
Brandicourt left the company to start the analytics teams at
Spotify and then Foursquare.
Meanwhile, for the first time in seven years of living in New
York City, Ramsey found a great apartment “through a friend of a
friend” instead of a broker, she told Business Insider. To her
surprise, the process was enjoyable.
“First of all, there was that element of trust, but also I didn’t
have to pay any crazy fees associated with an apartment, it was
just a very clean transaction,” Ramsey said. “So I started to
think to myself, how can I actually systematize this? How can I