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PROPTECH-X : Roome explains why fixing University lettings is personal

Roome founders fix University lettings problem 

Having met 1,000 proptech founders, critiqued over 400 decks, worked with 120 founders as clients and written six million words on the digital transformation of real estate, it takes a lot to get me excited as I have seen it all.

But every so often I meet people whose energy and vision shines out, and having met James Buck & Owen Redman joint Founders of Roome I felt like I had been tag teamed by a force of nature. Their service is all about transforming student lives through seamless housing connections whilst empowering universities to support students with off-campus accommodation.

The following piece though is James Buck’s (Pictured – R) powerful own words about the Why? And the How? He and Owen Redman (Pictured -L) modernised University lettings for the student and helped the Universities at the same time. As James explains it all began with their own experience,   

‘The time studying University was priceless. Without the people I met and the lessons I learned, the opportunities that were afforded to me along the way, I don’t know where I’d be without them. I met my people, people who understood me and we made memories for life, living together in a privately rented house.

I started university in 2018 but my route there wasn’t conventional. I thought I would receive offers from my firm university, but when that dreaded results day came around, it was radio silence. Through clearing I was accepted to the University of Surrey, and being lucky, without realizing it, I got my first choice student Halls whilst studying in my first year. Soon after I moved into my first-year halls, I was fully exposed to all the joys of the private rental market for the first time in my life.

During this process, I realized how bad the situation really was, and saw and experienced multiple inefficiencies with the off campus lettings process. My letting experience as a student is what fuelled me to fix these issues. An experience that went something like this; navigating multiple platforms to find accommodation, arriving at the viewings, only to discover they weren’t student lets.

Or after finding a house that all my friends liked, we had people dropping out of the group, so we had to search for additional housemates through Facebook groups that were cluttered with event tickets and dubious room listings. With the number of students attending university increasing and the more private landlords leaving the space, these problems are only set to get worse.

It’s stressful enough when accommodation options are so low, but with little to no way to find housemates to shared accommodation online, especially for incoming first year students, you can only begin to imagine how problematic this process is. Students mentally prepare for going to university for months, but if they don’t have accommodation, they’re left unable to start their next chapter in life, despite being accepted into university and working hard to meet the grade requirements.

Universities are being put under massive amounts of pressure due to limited housing options and supporting struggling students with nowhere to live. This falls on the accommodation and the wellbeing teams to help students through such a stressful process missing out on the opportunity to live in a university city, through having no accommodation or being rushed into subpar accommodation, massively affects a student’s experience and is detrimental to their mental health.

This could poorly affect the university satisfaction rating, reputation, or even lead to dropouts or not accepting offers, leading to missed revenue opportunities, accommodation teams already struggle to manage incoming students in their own halls without having to think about all the issues off campus, but with the surplus of applicants and no real off campus process or solution, innovation is needed now more than ever.

My co-founder, Owen and I built an end-to-end solution called Roome through our personal struggles as students, and it offers a solution to universities struggling to manage the process off campus. We match likeminded students together in housemate groups, offering transparency on every available accommodation option, and simplify the booking process for all parties involved.

We provide the largest selection of off campus accommodation out of any platform; we create a trusted ecosystem where students can confidently secure housemates, review accommodation and let properties. Our break came when the University of Surrey came to us in need of a solution that only we could provide. They had more incoming students than available accommodation with no way to match students and safely put them into off-campus accommodation.

For the first time, with a quick turnaround of two weeks, we sourced over 450 available rooms in Guildford and gave personal support to over 500 students that were under pressure to either commute, defer or reject their offer completely. We helped them find housemates they’d enjoy living with in a property best suited for them.

We’re now setting our sights on helping the rest of the universities through their letting cycle and assisting even more students in the Q1 intake cycle. The platform and support services provided by our team to walk students through the lettings process and our start to finish technology and vetting process building a strong partnership with the University of Surrey as the recommended off campus accommodation provider for 18,000 students.’

To find out more about what Roome is up to, or if you can help in any way to speed the progress of James & Owen and their team, please use this LINK.


Andrew Stanton’s PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’ in association with Estate Agent Networking & News Now publications. #proptech #property #realestate #digitaltransformation #startups


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Andrew Stanton Founder & Editor of 'PROPTECH-X' where his insights, connections, analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are based on writing 1.3M words annually. Plus meeting 1,000 Proptech founders, critiquing 400 decks and having had 130 clients as CEO of 'PROPTECH-PR', a consultancy for Proptech founders seeking growth and exit strategies. He also acts as an advisory for major global real estate companies on sales, acquisitions, market positioning & operations. With 100K followers & readers, he is the 'Proptech Realestate Influencer.'