Students develop off-campus housing directory
Carolyn Hutyra | Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Looking for off-campus housing? The search just got easier with South Bend Student Housing, a new website created by six Notre Dame students in the Engineering, Science, and Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Masters Program (ESTEEM). The website makes finding residences, contacting land lords and securing listings faster and more convenient.
Graduate students Keith Marrero, Amanda Miller, Conor Hanley, Eric Tilley, Nathan Higgins and Sean Liebscher are the co-founders of the website and business South Bend Student Housing, which went live in February.
“It’s kind of like Amazon,” Marrero said. “You tell it what you want and it’ll tell you what’s available that meets your needs, and then you’re able to make an informed decision based on that.”
Marrero said the website allows students to browse housing options in the South Bend area based on amenities and preferences.
“One of our goals is to provide information for students about everything that’s available because a lot of students will hear about their housing through word of mouth,” he said. “You don’t really know everything that’s out there.”
Although the co-founders are still in the process of contacting landlords and adding additional listings to the site, Marrero said the site already contains numerous housing options available for browsing.
Students interested in a property can simply click the “Contact Landlord” button to email the owner directly. The website includes additional features such as a compare option.
“One of our big features is the compare feature,” he said. “It enables you to compare three, four, however many properties you want on one page as opposed to having a million tabs open.”
Marrero said there are means of comparison between properties to see if they include various features such as off-street parking or in-unit laundry. The distance from the residence to the University is also included.
The website is especially helpful for graduate students who travel from various areas around the country and world and are likely unfamiliar with the South Bend area and housing options, Marrero said.
The website first started out as a class assignment, but Marrero said the interviews the team conducted for class showed such positive feedback that students began asking when the website would go live.
After deciding to make the project a reality, Marrero said the team received funding from an anonymous investor for the entrepreneurial venture. A beta site was created last fall and advertising through social media started in February.
Students interested in learning more about off-campus options can visit the website southbendstudenthousing.com for more information.