A New Website Could End Realtor Fees

Northeastern startup Wizio aims for a transparent market of empowered renters.


Provided by Wizio

Dozens of new housing developments are popping up in Boston, but the process of renting an apartment is stale and well rehearsed, with costly fees and swirling uncertainty for to-be-tenants.

While other cities have similar qualms with the system, Boston is unique in its staggering number of college students and millennial renters per capita. Enter: Wizio, a new startup by Northeastern students and Husky Startup Challenge winners Cameron Billings, Devon Grodkiewicz, and Christopher Canal, aimed at creating a better rental community in Boston.

Designed to give renters the power and cut out realtor fees, Wizio invites current tenants to upload video tours showing the honest pros and cons of their apartments. With transparent information, tenants-to-be can arm themselves with facts sometimes concealed by landlords and real estate agents. In exchange for sharing their personal experience, users receive a free credit equal to the signing fee for an apartment through the Wizio platform.

“We don’t think that realtors or landlords are evil, but the system has reinforced poor behavior,” says CEO Christopher Canal.

Wizio will provide landlords with a list of interested tenants. “Critical to the success of our platform is our ability to represent landlords and property managers on the website, as well as tenants,” says Canal.

Wizio is new, founded last January, with the beta edition of its website, allowing tenants to upload and browse tours, live just this week. On January 1st, 2016, Wizio will launch its online e-realtor service, where users can sign a lease and pay for apartments online, with Wizio acting as the virtual real estate agent.

The company has had thousands of hits on their site since the beta version went live earlier this week. “We’ve received several emails from excited tenants and landlords who are ready to be done with realtors in Boston,” says Canal.

On balancing school and their startup, the Husky Challenge winners say it’s hard and sometimes a little silly. “Last weekend, after 30 straight hours of debugging server issues, Cameron had to go home and finish his computer science homework,” says Canal.