Westside has also maintained its business by offering corporate memberships and leasing services for apartment owners.
Corporate subscriptions start at $1,375 – a price point that includes 25 accounts active for 60 days. So a company that is recruiting can give 25 incoming employees a two-month account to look for a new pad.
Westside has seen a 3 percent uptick in corporate subscriptions since last year after an extended period of flat growth, said Miller, who noted that about 75 percent of its business customers are L.A. tech companies, such as Santa Monica’s Cornerstone OnDemand.
There’s a direct correlation between tech companies moving here, setting up shop and hiring people, and the increase in corporate accounts, said Miller.
Westside also has sold a leasing service to landlords since 2009 in which its employees show apartments to prospective renters, receive applications and run background checks.
“(Leasing services are) a hassle from a landlord’s perspective,” said Miller. “We have a team of 10 people in house seven days a week answering the phones, setting up showings.”
Westside charges landlords half of a unit’s first month’s rent – a cost that some large professional apartment management companies are unwilling to pay, especially if they already have trained leasing agents.
“We’re not going to outsource that to another company because we consider that a very high value-added part of what we do,” said Daniel Tenenbaum, principal at Brentwood’s Pacific Crest Realty, who noted that his company puts a lot of resources into training leasing agents.
However, Miller said the leasing service has caught on with small mom-and-pop landlords in high-rent areas – customers who stand to gain a lot from finding a tenant quickly but don’t have the manpower to run a professional leasing office.
Westside’s leasing team has represented more than 5,000 leased units since 2009, according to Miller.
With high rents in mind, Westside is also aiming to become a major player in the residential brokerage business when it launches that division next year.
The company plans to use its vast database of rent prices to identify geographical areas where values are on the rise and assist in pricing homes. Miller said Westside Rentals also plans to exploit its network of apartment hunters and landlords to find clients.
In a test case, the company sold a three-bedroom Inglewood townhouse for $387,000 in October.
“It complements everything else that we are already doing,” said Miller of Westside’s brokerage plans. “We are going to be leveraging the relationships we have. We’ll convert our members who are paying a good amount of rents and then put them in a condo or townhome.”
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