Are you a property owner or an investor focusing on furnished rentals for corporate clients?
If yes, you might have already stumbled upon the Corporate Housing by Owner platform, where you can promote these types of property.
In this review article, I pack the most important Corporate Housing by Owner reviews into one and give you my opinion about this platform.
So keep reading to learn what I found out about it.
What is Corporate Housing by Owner?
Corporate Housing by Owner connects individual property managers, property owners, and corporate housing companies with mostly business travelers on a domestic and international level.
It is also a marketing and educational website, and offers individuals furnished private residences that can be rented on a monthly basis.
Corporate Housing by Owner also features the so-called “CHBO complete” property standards program that helps owners to rent their properties.
It was launched in March 2006, published in USA Today, New York Times, the Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and its site has reached several million visitors since then.
Besides the website potential, tenants are also reached by different marketing efforts, such as trade expos, direct sales, and direct mail.
All properties on Corporate Housing by Owner are individually owned by owners or property managers.
How to Use Corporate Housing by Owner
Using It As a Potential Tenant
When you visit the site as a potential tenant, you can use the site search by clicking on “Need Housing”.
There, you can enter your search criteria, such as the city where you want to rent and your arrival and departure dates.
As additional information, you can indicate if you have pets and if you like to search within a certain radius of the respective city.
Further required information you would need to enter are:
- The length of your stay
- The number of bedrooms needed
- The anticipated move-in date
- Your price range
- The purpose of needing a property and all further requirements
- Your complete contact information (First Name, Last Name, Country, State, City, Phone, Email, and preferred method of contact)
Additionally, it is a requirement for you to create a new account with Corporate Housing by Owner.
So, this section is basically for potential tenants that will need a bit more assistance in finding the right property.
You can also use the browsing section on the website, when you click on the “Browse Top Cities” drop-down field.
The different cities are ordered alphabetically and once you click on a city, you will see different properties that you could rent.
After that, you will get to another page with a broad overview of properties available and if you scroll down, you can select between two categories, which are the corporate apartments in the city and short-term rentals.
On this overview site, you will also get some short basic information about the respective city such as population size and some of the major economic drivers.
When you click there on a property to see further details, you will get the typical property detail listing page with pictures, an overview of the features, the description, amenities, rates, a map, the availability, and reviews.
By using the different tabs, you can jump to the different sections of the page.
To contact the specific listing owner, you won’t have to enter that many details like when you go the route with more assistance. You just enter your first name, last name, phone, email, and a message.
The arrival and departure dates are optional to enter.
You can also save properties you like by clicking the start/heart link associated with the particular listing. This is only possible if you are registered and logged in.
Once you have a list of saved properties, you can come back to it by clicking on “saved listings”.
Using It As an Owner
If you are an owner and want to advertise your property with Corporate Housing by Owner, you will need to select one of the pricing plans.
You can promote unfurnished and furnished properties.
The company has four different yearly plans, one fixed monthly plan, and three monthly bulk plans available.
With the exception of the bulk plans, all prices for the plans are disclosed on their website, but you can find the bulk plan prices kind of hidden within the FAQ section.
CHBO gives all owners the guarantee that your property will be rented within 30 days once the listing is activated.
In the event that this won’t happen, they extend your subscription for six more months without any further costs.
The guarantee is not completely without limitations. It can only be applied to new annual packages, and it excludes the bronze package.
You can find below an overview of the different pricing plans:
|Bronze ($339 per year)||Silver ($399 per year)||Gold ($499 per year)||Platinum/Certified ($975 per year)|
|Basic Search Ranking||X||X||X||-|
|Priority Search Ranking||-||-||-||X|
|Listings Allowed Live||1||1||1||1|
|Photo Slots Available||18||33||33||60|
|Listing Duration||12 Months||12 Months||12 Months||12 Months|
|Sponsored Listing||-||1 Month||3 Months||6 Months|
|Featured Listing||-||1 Month||3 Months||6 Months|
|CHBO Certified Property||-||-||-||X|
|Professional Photo Shoot||-||-||-||X|
|Linked to Partner Site’s||X||X||X||X|
|Assigned CHBO Agent||-||-||-||X|
|Bulk 5 (5 Listings $199)||Bulk 10 (10 Listings $249)||Bulk 25 (25 Listings $379)||Monthly $229 (for 1 Month)|
|Basic Search Ranking||X||X||X||X|
|Listings Allowed Live||5||10||25||1|
|Photo Slots Per Listing||33||33||33||18|
|Listing Duration||6 Months||6 Months||6 Months||1 Month|
|Linked to Partner Site’s||X||X||X||X|
In order to buy one of the listing plans, you will first need to register.
You can do this using your Facebook or Twitter account or using your email.
Corporate Housing by Owner also offers different discounts should you need to list multiple properties.
For secondary listing(s), prices start at $229 per year for the basic annual listing.
The Sponsored Listing Option
As you might have noticed in the pricing overview table, there is the feature of “sponsored listing”.
Only the Silver, Gold, and Platinum/Certified plans include this feature.
What does it do?
It will get your listing a higher exposure and your ad will be displayed in a special area on the search results page while also being displayed in the regular list and map view.
We will have to keep in mind this feature because I will get back to it later in my section about which pricing plan I would choose.
Should you have one of the Bulk plans or the Bronze plan, you can make the upgrade by clicking on the tab “my listings” within the dashboard.
There, you click on the “Sponsored Listing” option and the “Add” button. After that, you select how long you would like the duration to be and make the payment.
Is there a way to monitor the listing’s activity or is there any analytics feature?
The analytics functionality is a bit limited, you only can see each time your property listing is viewed.
To find this section, you need to visit your dashboard once logged in and then click on the “My Listings” tab.
Under the “Stats” column, you will see an icon that looks like an eye. You just need to click it to see the stats of your property.
What About Virtual Tours?
You might have already read in my article about virtual tours about the benefits of offering them.
On Corporate Housing by Owner, you can also include a virtual tour of your property.
You just need to again be logged in, then click on the “my listings” tab and then click edit.
Next, you click the edit button below your property’s details and select the tab on top called “links”.
Now, you can insert whatever link you have for your virtual tour in the link field. Once you inserted it, a virtual tour icon will automatically be displayed in your listing detail section.
Does Corporate Housing by Owner work with exclusivity?
Since the website is not a real estate broker that makes owners enter into an exclusive listing agreement, it doesn’t limit you from promoting or advertising your property on other channels.
The only thing you might want to make sure of is to have the availability calendar updated, so other channels where you promote your property don’t interfere with the availability displayed on the Corporate Housing by Owner website.
Is there some tenant onboarding assistance that Corporate Housing by Owner can offer?
There is some assistance that the company makes available. They offer some sample rental agreements that you can access in the dashboard.
But I wouldn’t use it 1:1, since depending on your situation, you might need to fine-tune it with your lawyer so you are able to follow your local laws.
Although not directly but through their partner SmartMove via Transunion, they also offer a tenant screening service.
Which Pricing Plan Would I Choose and Why?
Although it is tempting to start at once with the most economic plans such as the silver or the different bulk plans, I wouldn’t start with them.
Firstly, because they don’t provide you the CHBO renting guarantee and secondly, you don’t get the listing exposure you will need to test your rental offer from the get-go.
In my opinion, the Gold plan is the plan you want to choose from the start, because you will get the renting guarantee and you will be able to get at least for one month the maximum exposure possible with sponsored and featured listings.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t analyze the overall website traffic of Corporate Housing by Owner via tools such as similarweb.com.
These tools never give an exact number, but at least have the ability to estimate the traffic within a certain ballpark.
This may be due to not enough website traffic (the tools start to work at higher traffic volumes), which would be a bit strange, or due to having some sort of blocking function active in the website’s backend which makes it impossible to be analyzed via third-party tools.
By knowing the monthly website traffic even based on an estimation, I could have calculated the cost per acquisition based on the pricing and a certain average traffic conversion rate.
This would have made the comparison of the different plans a bit easier.
By the way, this situation was also the moment when my first good impression started to change a bit.
But you will see what I am talking about once you get to the pros and cons and customer reviews I found further down below.
The Pros and Cons of Corporate Housing by Owner
- Helpful customer service
- A rent guarantee for certain pricing plans
- Some tenant onboarding assistance (e.g. sample agreements, tenant screening by partner)
- Rather expensive plans, and no free trial periods
- The inquiry forms for tenants could be asking for a bit less information and thus might increase the conversion rates of the website traffic.
- The pricing of the bulk plans is hard to find and not disclosed on the main pricing page. You can find them only on the FAQ page after a longer search effort.
- When you browse for rental listings in a particular city, the first page shows only a few rental properties, which can give the false impression to tenants that there is not much inventory. But once you click on one of the rental property categories you often get a much larger selection. This could lead to website visitor bounces and lower conversions.
Corporate Housing by Owner Reviews – The Good & Bad
I also checked the majority of the available customer reviews about Corporate Housing by Owner and filtered the ones out that didn’t seem to be too biased to one or another side.
And this is what I found:
2 Good Reviews
“I have used, and benefited, from the services of CHBO for approximately three years.
Through CHBO I found two excellent tenants in succession, and I earned the rental income for which I was aiming. CHBO provided me, in many cases personally over the phone, with all the assistance and advice that I needed.
I heartily recommend CHBO.” (source)
“I’ve had the pleasure of using CHBO to advertise my furnished rental since early 2014.
Their website is very easy to use, and if you need to talk to someone, I highly recommend Eric *****, because he’s given me a lot of good advice.
I used their photographer to get professional shots of both interior and exterior.
I followed their directions to make my rental CHBO certified, meaning fully furnished, including dishes, towels, everything they listed as essential for renters comfort.” (source)
2 Bad Reviews
“CHBO was a complete waste of money.
I live in a highly desirable area near Century City and Beverly Hills, and got very little interest through this site.
I spoke to an employee who sold their website and service to me as a complete “package”, and convinced me to buy it.
But of course when I wasn’t happy with the outcome, they argued that I had purchased an “ad”, and that ads don’t always work out (funny how they were no longer positioning their website/service as a “package”).
Anyway, they knew I was very unhappy and their customer service never bothered to reach out to me to try to make it right. “ (source)
“I tried CHBO and also found that it wasn’t worth the money.
I saw the not very positive experiences in this thread, but I figured it would be worth it if we at least got one booking through it.
But after two months there hasn’t been a single inquiry. CHBO reps say it’s a slow time of year and say we should post more photos of the outside, etc.
But during that same period of time, we easily booked 3 stays totaling 6 months of medium-term corporate renters (a traveling nurse and two business travelers) using Airbnb for the same property as soon as we opened up the availability on Airbnb.
The biggest red flag is that CHBO offers no free trial period, they charge a large up-front full-year fee, and it’s completely NON-refundable.” (source)
My Impression About the Reviews I Found
The reviews I mentioned above are again just a selection of good and bad reviews that I thought were not too biased.
But my overall impression reading many different reviews across several different websites was that good reviews seemed often to be overly polished, and somehow I could never buy them as being completely authentic.
The longer and more elaborate reviews that seemed a bit more authentic were unfortunately the bad ones.
This leads me to the last section of this review article – the alternatives.
What Are the (Better?) Alternatives from an Owner’s Perspective?
After what I found, you may still want to give it a try with Corporate Housing by Owner, but unfortunately, I can’t give the platform completely green lights for a go and can’t recommend it one hundred percent with a clear conscience.
So, that’s why I will provide you also with three alternatives that you might want to take into consideration.
With 2ndAddress, you can create a free listing with no listing costs or commitment.
The platform caters to business travelers and provides you with in-depth screening and credit checks.
Their Host Assured Program also includes property protection and accident and liability insurance policy for damages.
2ndAddress also features a property management service.
You can find out more about the company here.
There is not much to say about Craigslist since it is a very well-known classified ads platform throughout the world.
It includes different classified sections for jobs, housing, for sale, items wanted, community service, services, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums.
You could promote your furnished rental property for free in the housing section.
You can check it out here.
Another rental platform that is now very popular is Airbnb.
It connects property owners or people who have access to properties and want to rent them out with people looking for furnished accommodations worldwide.
It isn’t directly focused on the niche of corporate housing but you can present your property in a way that will attract corporate tenants.
The platform charges a small fee per transaction for their “connection services”, and no recurring monthly or annual flat fees have to be paid.
You can learn more about Airbnb here.
This was a bit of a bumpy review, and I would have loved to be able to fully recommend Corporate Housing by Owner to you.
But the more I dug deeper into the platform, compared it with alternatives, and especially read the different reviews, I realized that my first positive impression couldn’t hold up until the end.
You may still want to give it a try as a marketing experiment with a bit of cash to spare, but keep in mind the mentioned downsides.