Housing Web Site Offers Renters, Potential Homebuyers Incentives

Oak Brook, Ill.–Oak Brook, Ill.-based HomePerks, LLC’s new online network utilizes a unique concept to help real estate industry members move property during the housing slump: Reward your clients.Apartment buildings, developers, real estate agents and other professionals participating in the www.HomePerks.com network sponsor a rewards program on the site for their current and prospective customers. The system encourages repeat and referral business by offering points–called “perks”–for certain actions, such as referring a friend, visiting an open house or signing a rental contract. Customers can redeem the points they accumulate via the site’s rewards catalog, which contains more than 12,000 products that range from DVDs to gas grills to flat-screen TVs.HomePerks founder and CEO Brian Columbus created the system after spending 10 years in the real estate industry as a residential condo and single-family home developer. “I felt we needed to find a way to keep the market active and keep people engaged,” Columbus says. “It’s a cost-effective way to do it. There are no fees to join the service.”Professionals aren’t charged until customers receive their points. “There is no set up fee or upfront fee; there is only a fee when we actually send perks points to clients,” Columbus says.And, unlike gift certificates or cash offers, HomePerks offers a partial refund for unused perks.”If the perks expire, we refund 80 percent back to the property–you can’t do that with cash or a card or an apartment lease,” Columbus says. “If you say, ‘We’ll give you the third month free,’ you’ll never see that back.”HomePerks will work well for apartment communities because the system can be used to drive revenue and retain renters, according to Columbus.”Some buildings need to fill vacant units, some need to keep loyalty,” he says. “We’re looking to work with apartment buildings that would want to focus on lead generation to get people to tour, or to offer lease incentives to lease before a certain period for 10,000 perks, or for renewals and say, ‘You’ve been in this property for 10 months, we want to offer you an incentive to stay.'”HomePerks is a privately held company. The HomePerks reward service is open to leading companies, consumers and professionals.