Bungalow – a new way of Property Management for Single-Family Houses

(中文在英文後面)

If Airbnb is the king of vacation home rentals, then Bungalow is probably trying to be the queen for single-family house rentals (co-living).

Usually, apartment complexes are under big property management companies like ESSEX and Prometheus that own many apartment complexes in California. However, the single-family houses are often time operated by the homeowners or they hire real estate brokers who also run a property management business to serve their clients that have investment properties.

I only learned about Bungalow lately because I was looking for a new place to move to, and I prefer single-family houses to Townhouses, Duplex, or Apartments. I think the concept of Bungalow co-living style of rentals is interesting because it really trying to make leasing/moving/living as easy as possible for you.

The bungalow was founded in 2017 based in San Francisco.  On their website, it says, “Bungalow is the largest and fastest-growing co-living company in the United States tackling two of the largest problems of our generation — housing affordability and loneliness” which I think has the potential to go somewhere. By the way, they are hiring too. News articles about them.

They currently have rentals in these cities.

Here is the renting process (you are the tenant):

First, you look at their website to see if there homes that interest you.  You won’t be able to see the actual address and roommates profiles until you have submitted your application and background check (cost $1) and approved (in a few minutes).  By the way, don’t trust the photos because it is all taken in the beginning when the house was done.  It’s better to see in person, or at least has one of the current roommate to do a video tour although it’s still not the same as you see it in person.

So if you have a few places that you could see yourself live in, then step 2 would be to submit your application and background check. Once they approved you, you will know how much rent you got approved on, and you can see the full address on each house so you can google it to see the location.

You can play around with the lease duration to see the rental fee changes.  The shortest term is 3 months, the longest is 2 years.  The rent changes depend on if your lease ended in a slow season or not. Besides monthly rent, there is a $150 flat-fee monthly which includes all utilities, wifi, monthly cleaning, and 12 hours daily support (garage space is up for rent and it’s cheaper than storage).

They now split your deposit into the length of your lease so you don’t need to give them one month deposit with the first month’s rent all at once when signing. They furnished the living room and the kitchen.  If you need them to furnish your bedroom, they are able to help with a small fee. They also offer 2 weeks trial –  if you don’t like it after you move in, within 2 weeks, you can request moving out or transfer to another house with no termination fees other than the first month’s rent.

Keep in mind, they allow the master bedroom to have two people in it which means if a house has 5 master bedrooms, it “could” have a total of 10 people live in it (worse case), and you have no control over it.  Therefore, unless most of the roommates don’t cook, the kitchen/cabinets and the fridge is likely not big enough. I don’t know how they divide a house into 8 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms or 5 master bedrooms with some rooms even have a mini kitchen in it and some of the room doesn’t have a built-in closet (they put a standing closet in a room).

Step 3, add those houses that interested you onto your list, check out the roommates’ profiles and if you like what you see, you can request a 24 hours meet and greet chatroom with the roommates. You can also ask them to do a facetime and show you how’s the house looks like in real life.

Step 4, after the 24 hours period ended, Bungalow will check in with the roommates to get a verdict. Once they approved to have you as their new roommate, you will receive an email with a lease agreement that tells you the monthly rent (rent + monthly flat fee + deposit split in monthly payment).  Since they have that room reserved for you, now you won’t be able to see other houses that were on your list unless you release the room.

Step 5, This step will be signing the lease, get the key, and move in.

After I looked at three different houses, first one is 5B3b in Los Altos with 2-car garage and 4 roommates, second one is 4B2b in Mountain View with two-car garages and 1 rommmate, and the third one is a brand new 5B5b in Redwood City with no roommate yet and no garage.  All of them has it’s pros and cons, but in the end of the day, I feel it’s like living in a luxury college dorm which is not what I am looking for. Therefore, I change my house hunting direction to look for a 1 bedroom apartment.

Although Bungalow’s co-living is more like a luxury dorm than a home which is not the right fit for me, I still see it’s potential.

大家對Airbnb應該耳熟能詳, 只要想到渡假屋, 現在的人第一個想到的不是五星級飯店, 而是Airbnb (起碼在美國這邊是這樣啦). 如果說Airbnb是度假住宿的首選, 那Bungalow 這家新創公司大概想拿下獨棟屋租屋市場的大餅.

在美國, 通常大型公寓都是幾家大型租賃管理公司旗下的資產, 例如ESSEX 和 Prometheus這二家租賃管理公司,光是在加州就有不少大型公寓出租. 但是獨棟屋 (single-family houses) 多半是由屋主自己管理, 或者屋主聘僱有做租賃管理的地產經紀人代管.

我則是因為最近需要搬家開始找房子, 我想繼續分租獨棟屋, 才看到Bungalow貼出來的廣告, 上了官網才得知這家新創公司. 我覺得他們的經營型態很有趣, 真的讓找房子/搬家/安頓居住, 簡單許多.

租客的步驟如下:

第一步, 你先上Bungalow官網看看有沒有幾間房子是你有興趣的, 你暫時還看不到完整的地址, 要等到你送出申請表和背景查核通過後才看得到. 費用只要一美金, 需時幾分鐘而已. 記住, 千萬別相信你看到的照片, 因為那些都是房子剛裝潢好的樣子, 最好可以親自去看, 不然起碼要請現任的室友視訊給你看一下現況.

第二步, 申請核准後, 他會告訴你被核准的租金額度, 接著你可以把你有興趣的房子加進你的清單, 這時你會看到完整的地址, 和室友們的簡介, 你就可以Google地址, 看一下房子外觀和地理位置.

你可以調整租賃長度, 看看租金的變化. 最短是三個月, 最長是二年. 租金的變化是根據你的租約到期時, 是在熱門或冷門的租房季節. 每個月除了租金以外, 還有一個$150月費 – 這包含水電/瓦斯/垃圾和網路, 還有每個月專人打掃和每天十二小時的協助 (車庫空間可以月租, 會比去外面租倉儲便宜).  他們現在將押金分成月繳, 加在租金裡面, 這樣你就不用一次拿出很多錢. 他們會把客廳佈置好和廚房會有一些基本的鍋碗瓢盆. 如果你需要他們幫你的房間也一起佈置, 付點錢也是可以做到的. 如果你搬入後不滿意, 二週內可以選擇搬出, 或者搬到另外一個房子, 除了你第一個月的房租, 不會有任何多餘的罰款或違約金. 過了二週後若想提早解約, 就必須找到合乎標準的接替人.

他們允許主臥有二人居住, 所以有五個主臥的房子, 就有可能會有十個人住在裡面, 但我覺得即使多數的室友不下廚, 大部分的廚房和冰箱的空間肯定不夠大. 我絕對不想住在一個會讓我覺得像宿舍的地方, 尤其這麼多人住在同一個屋頂下. 我不知道他們是怎樣把一間獨棟屋隔出八間房四間衛浴, 或是五個主臥, 有些房間內還有迷你廚房, 尤其有些房間是沒有內建衣櫥 (他們有放站立式衣櫥).

第三步, 你可以送出與室友打招呼的申請, 24小時內有效, 你可以先跟室友在聊天室打字聊, 也可以用網路視訊, 請他們把屋況拍給你看.

第四步, 一旦24小時結束後, Bungalow會去徵詢室友們的意見, 一旦室友們同意, 你就會收到Bungalow寄來的租屋同意書, 載明個月的租金 (租金 + 服務月費 + 訂金分期) 和相關規定. 由於他們將這個房間保留給你, 所以這個階段你就不在能看到其他在清單上的房子, 除非你放棄這個房間.

第五步, 這一步應該就是簽租約, 拿到鑰匙, 搬進去.

我看了三棟不同的房子, 第一棟是位在Los Altos的五房三衛, 二個車庫, 目前有四位室友; 第二棟是位在Mountain View的四房二衛, 二個車庫, 目前有一位室友; 第三棟是位在Redwood City, 全新的五房五衛, 沒有車庫, 也還沒有人住. 這三棟房各有優缺好壞, 但最後都讓我覺得比較像是高級宿舍, 所以我後來決定去找一房的公寓, 放棄Bunaglow.

雖然Bungalow’s co-living的居住型態比較想是高級的宿舍, 不是我想要的家的感覺, 但我還是認為他的理念是很有發展潛力.

 

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