Urban realty company targets recent grads

by Astrid Bradley | 5/15/07 2:11am

After toughing it through four years of college and the grueling search for a job, graduates might think that the worst is over -- until they attempt to find an apartment. Urban Grad Realty, founded by George Washington University dropout Jonathan Iger, is one company that promises to ease the burdens of such a search from the beginning stages of locating an apartment to the final stages of settling in.

"We basically want to alleviate any stress of moving," Iger said.

Iger said that nine to 12 months after graduation thousands of students move to New York City, making it a prime location to start up his new enterprise.

Iger plans to expand the company to the Boston and Washington, D.C., areas by January 2008, and to the Chicago and San Francisco areas the following year.

Urban Grad was established this past January, and Iger considers its website the most advanced of its kind ever.

"It was easy for me to move back in with my parents for a while and look for an apartment," Iger said. "[But] I noticed that if you live outside the tri-state area, you only have a couple of days to look for an apartment."

Iger said that this time constraint causes recent movers to settle for unfortunate apartments.

Forrest Hanson '06 said that despite the limited amount of time that he had to look for an apartment, when he moved to Brooklyn last August he was able to land an apartment.

"We checked out a few real dumps and a place that wasn't even built yet -- but could be if we put down a big payment," he said in an e-mail, "but the last one we tried was amazing and we snapped it up." He added that a lot of people he knew settled for any apartment they could find due to time pressures.

Iger said that a lot of services recent graduates need to move in, are only offered during weekdays and other times when the students.

"I wanted to offer a service that would ease the transition," Iger said.

Iger said after he witnessed occurrences such as friends using towels as blinds for months on end, he knew that these were necessary services.

"After seven months, we still don't have a toaster," Hanson said. "We're still grilling ourtoast."

Iger said that over the past month Urban Grad has begun advertising at schools in the Ivy League and other northeastern universities in order to attract a large influx of the New York-bound.

"I'm actually looking at moving in September, so I'll definitely look into this site," Hanson said. "I imagine it'd be a great advantage having all the resources available, especially considering all the sh*t that comes with finding a place and moving in."

Iger said that most agents operate on a "bait and switch" technique, listing old advertisements in order to attract more clients. He said that Urban Grad is different because it is constantly updated.

"What ends up happening is that you see this great apartment and you call and the agent gives you the run around," Iger said. "Our listings are all available -- if its on our website ... then we can show it to you."

The company has advertised through ads in commencement issues, posters, career fairs and websites such as Facebook.com, flyers and their new marketplace feature.

Urban Grad has also created an internship for college students, in order to promote events and to attract traffic to the company's website and 1-800 number.

Iger said that most agents look at the customer as a commission and will attempt to make money off the customer until the sale is complete.

"Our relationship doesn't end there," Iger said. "We stay in touch with you,"

The company provides a starter kit to new tenants, which contains neighborhood information such as bank and liquor store locations.

"If you have a dog, and want to know the nearest vet, we will do that for you," Iger said. "We try to cater to our customers."

Urban Grad offers paid premium services which give customers access to amenities from providing a "move-in box," a box of supplies that everyone needs on their first day but never has, to having an Urban Grad employee sit in their apartment to wait for a furniture delivery man or cable serviceman.

"I didn't want [the realty company] to become a concierge service, but we wanted to integrate those two ideas together," Iger said.

Dan Kurland '06 said that he would have appreciated services such as these after his move to New York.

"That would have been money," Kurland said.

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