Real estate, Technology

Apartment List + UserTesting

Check out how focusing on empathy helps renters find homes they love
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Industry: Real estate, Technology
Company Size: Medium
Role: Researcher
Customer Type: B2C

About Apartment List

Apartment List is a technology-driven rental marketplace with over 5.5 million units on the platform, reaching millions of renters on their path to find their next home each month. Apartment List was founded with the mission to deliver every renter a home they love and the value they deserve.

Apartment List achieved

Better alignment around user needs

Increased revenue and reduced costs

More successful product launches


Apartment List is on a mission to deliver everyone a home they love. As our homes have become a place of refuge during the pandemic, this vision has never been more important.

About a third of the U.S. population rents their home, and renters are four times more likely to move each year than homeowners. Last year, Apartment List helped more than 175,000 renters find new homes.

Think of Apartment List like a dating app. Rather than just presenting a list of properties, the platform matches renters to properties that fit their needs based on their stated preferences. Beyond its customized approach to the apartment search, Apartment List differentiates itself through innovative technology and its unique “success-based business model,” which essentially means that Apartment List is only paid once a renter moves in to the listed property.

So it’s critical—in terms of development costs and potential revenue—that Apartment List introduces the right technology at the right time for both renters and property owners alike.


“Before we think about building something, we run a sentiment study on UserTesting with renters and clients to validate or invalidate our assumptions about a concept or a feature,” said Daniel Kim, UX Research Manager at Apartment List. “Then, after the first iteration of the MVP or prototype, we put it in front of renters and clients again to understand what we need to tweak, so we’re not building a solution that doesn't solve for a real-world problem and potentially lose millions in revenue.”

As Apartment List’s first UX researcher, Kim said one of his biggest goals has been to “socialize and evangelize empathy by helping everyone at Apartment List understand what it means to be a renter and a client through research.” “When we develop products, we might see them as metrics and not really as humans. My role is to bring that perspective,” he said.

Kim has also applied his UX expertise to develop empathy on his team for each other. You can read about it in this Medium post.

Kim values most the flexibility that he gets with UserTesting. For example, on a recent test, he successfully found renters throughout the US who were renting and matched 12 different screening criteria on the UserTesting Testing Contributor Network.

And like many busy UX professionals, Kim said he appreciates the quality of the UserTesting Testing Contributor Network because he doesn’t have to invest time to weed out unqualified responses.

Apartment List’s approach to user testing is to test, test again, and test some more.

“Having the human insights we get from UserTesting is instrumental in developing our strategy so that the features and products that we develop solve the real-world problems of our customers,” Kim said.

“With any decision-making, you need some evidence. Quant data is one type. But with quant data, you don't fully understand the why behind the metrics. By being able to prove with the why behind the numbers, I can provide that additional context,” he said. “We are social creatures. When we understand what others are going through, we can empathize with them and have more motivation to solve their problems.”


Kim said UserTesting has benefited Apartment List in three ways:

Decreased risk of launching the wrong products and features for their target audience
Decreased costs for engineering and design
Increased revenue as all new products are developed to meet the needs of their target audience(s)

Apartment List’s focus on empathy for its target audiences and solving their pain points contributed to the company becoming profitable in 2020 as the platform logged 5.5 million listings (about 13% of the available inventory in America) and 30 million registered users.

Furthermore, that success factored into the company’s $60 million Series D funding round that included capital from notable investors Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Andre Iguodala, A-Rod Corp, and Lizzo, among others.

“The company’s profitable 2020 made it an attractive investment,” Iguodala said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “It's a rare thing you see with startup companies,” he said.

Daniel Kim
UX Research Manager at Apartment List

“Human insight from UserTesting is instrumental to our go-to-market strategy. It ensures the products and features we develop solve real world problems, better than our competition.”