Not so long ago, I was sitting in the corporate office of a well-known residential real estate brokerage firm in Manhattan, signing a lease to my first apartment in New York City. I skimmed over the document as I repeatedly wrote my name, while a schmoozy, fast-talking broker in a tight-fitting suit assured me I was getting a great deal. The experience was unsettling, expensive and I ended up getting a very average “deal” for my quaint four bedroom, five-floor walk-up.
This occurrence is common for the New York neophyte, as the process of finding an apartment in the city is infamous as a stress-inducing and pricey ordeal. Fortunately, there’s a tech company on a mission to overturn this norm.
Born out of Brooklyn, Nooklyn is a tech-powered real estate platform. 85 percent of the company’s users are millennials, as it aims to help young people between 18-24 find and buy apartments.
“We are building a people-first company with great experience and design,” said Harley Courts, Nooklyn’s founder and CEO. “I believe that business model alone cannot effect major change. We are the first to build the foundations of a social integrated real estate platform and this is just the beginning for us.”
In contrast, traditional real estate firms are relationship-driven and slow to integrate technology into their brokerage models. Up until now, companies such as as Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and Streeteasy have led the charge when it comes to online listings, and Compass has made waves in the high-end market befitting Manhattan residents.
Nooklyn’s intuitive UX and sleek app cater to the Brooklyn set, which largely includes millennials. The app’s design allows users to easily track appealing listings by favoriting them with a heart as you would on Instagram. The roommate-finding feature within the app bears similarities to popular dating apps, where a bio on one’s affinity for pizza is replaced with one’s preferred neighborhood, budget and move-in date. However, no swiping is required, and you can easily message anyone you’re interested in living with as you would in a typical social networking platform.
This type of technology, which was built by Nooklyn’s in-house team, is solving a common problem for the 2.3 million millennials who choose to make their home in New York. While the process of finding an apartment may be unfamiliar and intimidating to this group, the technology is not.
Nooklyn also populates its site and app with original content in the form of neighborhood guides. These local summaries showcase the best art, bars, coffee shops, restaurants, music venues, recreational activities, shopping and transportation options, so users can get a feel for a neighborhood as they search.
Moreover, the company’s 115 agents represent an anti-corporate epithet—many of them moonlight as the artists, skateboarders and musicians you tend to find in Brooklyn.
Looking ahead, the company aims to expand to Austin, San Francisco and into other millennial-heavy cities.
Nooklyn has offices in Bushwick, Williamsburg, Crown Heights and most recently, Union Square.