Lee Lin had a full-time job, three rental properties and a problem: he had no time to find tenants to live in them. He tried advertising on free-listing websites like Craigslist, but found it too time consuming, so he created an alternative.

Lin and co-founder Lawrence Zhou, both former programmers, spent nine months and $20,000 in personal savings to build RentHop.com. The website showcases available apartments in New York, predominantly ones that don’t charge renters expensive broker fees.

“Landlords and property managers are very desperate now,” said Lin, who added that when the rental market tanked it forced landlords to absorb broker fees as a way to try to entice renters. These “no-fee” apartment listings have become extremely popular with New Yorkers. “The bottom line is the recession is driving landlords and brokers to work harder to find tenants and that makes room for a new site and a newer business model, such as RentHop to come along.” (Read full article here)

THE PITCH

The site is now averaging about 25,000 visitors a month, which Lin said puts it on par with the websites of established New York-based brick-and-mortar brokerages like Anchor Associates (www.anchornyc.com), Ardor (www.ardorny.com) and Bond New York (www.bondnewyork.com).

“I don’t want to suddenly start expanding to other cities without first locking down New York,” admitted Lin, whose primary goal is to establish RentHop as a “dominant player” in the New York rental market over the next 12-18 months. That means becoming an “indispensable tool for the property managers and brokers to use.”