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Housing Advocates See Bitter Side Of New Rent-Bidding Startup Rentberry

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) --  It's supposed to take the stress out of apartment hunting, but a new web application that shows which properties people are bidding on is getting mixed reviews.

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A two-bedroom home is now around $4,800 a month in San Francisco.

Landlord Gail Sabin could charge a bit more for her Glen Park beauty, and she'd get it easily.

Sabin said,"Just like buying in the city, renters offer more."

Up until now it has been a blind bid. You don't know what other people are bidding to rent out an apartment.

The website Rentberry wants to change that by making it all public.

Rentberry co-founder and CEO Alex Lubinsky said, "It's always best to be knowledgeable and submit an educated offer."

On Rentberry you bid and see other bids too. They only charge when someone rents a place: they pay $25 and there are no other fees.

"I think the biggest help it would be is to a landlord who would want to hand it all over to a third party and not deal with it itself," Sabin said.

They don't have to take the highest bidder. They can take anyone after meeting them. But there are concerns this bidding website could lead to ever increasing bidding wars.

"Anything that causes renters to bid up going to cause rents to go up, obviously," said San Francisco renter Chris Summer.

Tenant groups aren't happy at all with this new website. Rents have been going up at a ridiculous rate in recent years in San Francisco. But things have leveled off and some surveys show rents are actually going down.

"It could actually make some things more affordable if people are bidding low," said San Francisco renter Dory Little.

But tenants' rights groups are blasting the website, with one saying anything that could help raise the price of housing in such a horrendous housing crisis is "callous."

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