The Cozy Blog

Exciting Updates to Cozy Payments

Written on May 21, 2015 by Chris Rivard

We have some exciting news to share about Cozy payments. We’ve been speaking with many customers over the past few months and one theme we’ve heard consistently is the need for more flexibility in payments. The requests we’ve heard include:

  • The ability to request a one-time payment from a tenant.
  • Expanded payment options in addition to our current bank to bank transfers to allow tenants to pay with a credit or debit card.
  • More flexibility around monthly rent due dates.

The design and engineering teams have been working through how best to incorporate these features and provide a best in class user experience. These improvements are in development right now with a scheduled release later in the summer.

As part of these improvements to payments, we’ve found a new payments partner in Stripe. Stripe is the leader in online payments and will allow us to design and deliver these capabilities in a great user experience at a much faster pace.

In order for landlords to continue to accept rent payments uninterrupted, all landlords will need to agree to Stripe’s terms of service in their Cozy account. We’ll be sending out an email beginning next week that includes a link to the terms. The only action necessary is to click the button in the email.

The move to Stripe will occur on June 9th, 2015, so please review the email as soon as you receive it. We’ll also post a message on the Cozy dashboard that landlords will see when they log in. Tenants do not need to take any action. We’re very excited at what we have planned for our customers and are working hard to get these features into the product.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to our amazing support team.

How to Read a Tenant Credit Report

Written on May 13, 2015 by Katie Harlow

A lot of folks using Cozy are accidental landlords, and many have never needed to interpret another person’s credit report. Quite honestly, even when reviewing my own report, I was mostly focused on the score — but, when you’re evaluating a potential tenant, you need to look closely. Fortunately, Cozy makes it easy to review a credit report, even if you’re doing so for the first time.

Let’s take a look at the different pieces of information you’re provided with, and how you can use them. But first, if you haven't run a tenant credit report yet, use Cozy. It's free for landlords like you, and just $19.95 for your applicants.

The Overview

credit report overview

Here’s a top-level summary of your applicant’s debts and credit lines along with their credit score. This will tell you their total existing debt, plus the percentage of available credit they’re currently using.

Credit Summary

credit report summary

This is where you’ll find a breakdown of your applicant’s total monthly payments and total debt. Knowing how much your tenant already owes each month may give you a better idea of whether they have enough income to comfortably cover rent. I’d also recommend paying close attention to their total debt ratio. Some applicants may have a large total debt, but a big portion of it may be things that are considered good debt, like student loans.

Payment History

credit report payment history

Next you’ll find your applicant’s overall payment history. This will tell you things like when they last made a late payment and the number of accounts currently in collections. Accounts Ever Late and Time Since Late may give you a good indication of this applicant’s likelihood to pay their rent on time every month.

Account History

credit report account history

Next you’ll see a more comprehensive display of your applicant’s account history. Here you’ll be able to view up to 25 months of payment history for each account. I’d recommend looking out for consistently on time payments, which suggests that this applicant is accountable for their financial obligations.

Score Factors

credit report score factors

Finally, you’ll see a list of factors that could have lowered your applicant’s credit score. We’ll give you a brief explanation of each one, but you can also check out www.reasoncode.org for a more in-depth rundown.

Build Your Business with Cozy

Written on May 07, 2015 by Gino Zahnd

We hear from customers everyday, and we frequently hear stories about how Cozy has changed someone's life, or made it possible to deal with investment property or rooommates in ways that we never intended. So when Scot Rife wrote to tell us he completely changed careers, and has built his real estate business with the help of Cozy and Landlordology, we had to share his story. Scot's story is why we're on this mission!

And with his permission, here's the email from Scot:

I wanted to introduce myself... You don't know me, but I have gotten to know your work over the past month and am very grateful.

I bought my first investment property in 2011 and what started as a hobby, turned into a passion and now a career. I left my 20 year banking career in 2013 to become a full-time investor and Realtor specializing in helping others buy and hold Real Estate for wealth. I now own about a dozen single family rentals with a business partner.

Here is where you come in... The teaching from Landlordology has caused my business partner and I to move from investing in Real Estate to running a Real Estate business. For example, we developed a written screening process and new leases that require electronic funds transfer from Cozy. We've also created a tenant portal we call www.Resident411.com to provide transparency to our tenants and an optimal resident experience. We're developing written systems for everything we do and feel empowered to take on roles we've been out sourcing. As we onboard new properties and existing ones go vacant, we are transitioning from a property manager to self management and will save over $700 per month thanks in part to you.

We "use" other on-line services in our business but feel a great connection with cozy.co because of the value you add through the information you provide at Landlordodogy. We see you as a partner in our business that goes beyond the web tools.

Yesterday, a client set up a cozy.co account to screen and collect payment from his tenants. I see part of my role is to educate clients and introduce them to tools to be successful in their business. All my investor clients are now hearing about Landlordology and cozy.co.

You've helped us take our training wheels off and move forward in our business and I wanted to thank you.

With gratitude,

Scot

Scot M. Rife

Realtor®

Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors

535 N Main St

Springboro, OH 45066

www.scotrife.com

If you are using Cozy to run your business, or if you're thinking about making the leap, please let us know!

The $100,000,000 Milestone

Written on May 06, 2015 by Gino Zahnd

You've helped us hit another milestone: Cozy now processes over $100,000,000 a year in rent payments. 1.5 years ago, I wrote that we had processed our first $1 million, so it's fun to know we now do about 2x that every week now. And we're just getting started.

Cozy's customer base has grown person by person, business by business, with no sales team. We're now used by landlords, property managers, and tenants in over 6,000 ZIP codes in the US. That includes essentially every urban area, every suburb, most college towns, and lots of places in between. It's deeply rewarding to know that we're enabling people to never have to think about rent or rent-related tasks, and we're doing it at what is starting to look like substantial scale.

As we've grown, we've learned a ton about the needs of both landlords and renters when it comes to financial transactions along the rental lifecycle. To that end, we're actively working with the Cozy customer advisory board on new products to meet those needs, as well as technology to extend Cozy payments far beyond our core services. This summer is going to be awesome.

Thanks for being with us as we've grown, and thanks for all the support. The next time I write about this will be when we hit the billion dollar mark. I can't wait.

The Best Rental Application Gets Better

Written on April 28, 2015 by Ravi Dehar

We're constantly incorporating landlord feedback into our product development, and we're excited to unveil two updates to our new rental applications.

First, we've added an emergency contact field to the rental application.

Rental Application Emergency Contact

Second, in addition to some other minor design tweaks, we've added a new checkbox at the end of the application, right before applicants hit submit, confirming that they're comfortable with their prospective landlord contacting their employer and references.

Rental Application Submission

We're constantly making updates to our tools for landlords and renters, and as always, they're available for free, instantly, to everyone using Cozy. There's no software to update or fee to pay.

If you're a landlord or property manager that isn't using Cozy for rental property management yet, you can sign up for free.

The Tools We Use: Analytics

Written on April 27, 2015 by Ravi Dehar

Like most web-based software, Cozy uses Google Analytics to track our traffic and its sources. Google Analytics does a great job tracking users on our site in aggregate. But we also need need information about specific users and their behavior. What sources were driving the largest accounts? Within a given page of our online rental application, where are applicants getting stuck? And, most importantly, how can we tie together an applicant’s credit report purchase to the signup source of the landlord that requested it? URL tracking alone won’t cut it. Here are a few other tools we’re using to bridge the gap.

GoSquared

GoSquared provides us with people analytics. For an individual user, we can see what actions they’ve taken on the website and what pages they’ve visited. This is useful both from a marketing perspective, as well as a support perspective.

Amplitude

Amplitude tracks events in aggregate for us. This is where we segment our audience into cohorts, track event funnel completion rates (like those rental application steps), and more. Amplitude also gives us raw access to all of our analytics data via SQL queries.

Segment

Segment is the one-stop-shopping experience for analytics. With one simple integration and a few calls to their easy-to-use tracking API, we track all of our analytics data anywhere we want to track it. That one call sends our data to Google Analytics, GoSquared, Amplitude, and any other place we want it to go. Their Javascript library works great out of the box, and can have you up and running with most services you need in no time. If we want to try a new service, we simply turn it on. If we want to shut one down, we simply turn it off - no code changes or development time needed.

Periscope

Periscope is where we turn for database-driven dashboards. Periscope makes vital stats like the number of landlords that signed up yesterday, or the number of credit reports purchased available at any time, always up to date and accurate. We also track our marketing spend, geographic coverage, and more. Their simple interface and powerful query language make it easy to look at any statistic over any time period.

Renters: Your credit report matters

Written on April 23, 2015 by John Bragg

When you're applying to live somewhere new, you've probably looked at several available properties, and you've probably fallen in love with one of them. We can help you land that first choice. With Cozy, you have the opportunity to share your credit report with your prospective landlord, and doing so right when you apply can give you a leg up. Most landlords ask to see it anyway, so providing it proactively can give you a big advantage over other applicants.

We've processed thousands of rental applications, and they've given us a treasure trove of valuable data about how landlords decide who to rent to, and subsequently, how renters can ensure they get their desired property. If you want to know how to land your first choice spot, this data can give you some clues.

The most striking thing we have learned is this: you are 4 times as likely to be offered a rental if you include a credit report with your application.

Why do landlords want to see your report?

A landlord's primary concern is whether or not you will pay rent on time and in full. While your report does not include your history as a renter, it does include your history as a payer of other kinds of debt. It may be the only verified piece of evidence that you can provide to prove that you are financially trustworthy and reliable, and those renters who provide a credit report with their application show that they have nothing to hide, making deciding to rent to them much easier.

If you're a landlord, tenant credit checks with Cozy are easy (and free): just sign up as a landlord to use Cozy's free rental application, or if you already have a completed application, you run a tenant credit report with just your applicants' names and email addresses.

Tenant Screening Services: Why Cozy Works Best

Written on April 21, 2015 by Ravi Dehar

Tenant screening is an integral part of how landlords decide to whom they'll rent their vacant property. In most cases, you're likely renting to a complete stranger -- someone you might've met in person while showing the unit, but not an acquaintance otherwise. While the in-person meeting is critically important in figuring out if someone will be a good tenant, you also need data to back up that decision. That's where Cozy's tenant screening tools come in.

1. Rental Application

Our rental application, recently redesigned to be mobile-friendly and accessible anywhere, makes it easier for prospective tenants to apply to properties they're interested in, and it makes it easier for landlords to accept and track their applications. With a credit report built-in, it takes just a few minutes for an applicant to provide all their pertinent information, and for a landlord to review and assess their pool of applicants.

The application includes all the vital information: income, pets, references, and more.

1. Tenant Credit Report

Running a credit report on a prospective tenant is an important part of deciding whether or not a tenant will be able to pay their rent on time every month. With our credit reports, we provide detailed financial information in an easy-to-read format. What's more, running the credit report doesn't impact applicants' credit scores, and it costs them only $19.95!

Because Cozy works across the US, and gives landlords all the information they need to make an informed decision, we think it's one of the best tenant screening services around.

Introducing the Newest Member of Team Cozy: Jimmy Moncrief

Written on April 17, 2015 by Lucas Hall

We’re excited to announce that Jimmy Moncrief has joined Team Cozy!

Jimmy owns multiple rental properties in Tennessee and is joining Cozy as a content writer on Landlordology, our free landlord education site.

Jimmy Moncrief

Notably, Jimmy is a bank underwriter, commercial loan creditor, landlord, and real estate investor. He is also the mastermind behind Real Estate Finance HQ and has been wrangling finances for the majority of his life.

Jimmy’s career started at the age of 12, when he won a stock market investing competition against thousands of contestants! He went on to become a stock analyst and hedge fund partner at a Fortune 500 company. He found his niche by combining his deep understanding of finances with his love for real estate.

As Landlordology and Cozy continue to grow, we are attracting many large-asset landlords, managers, and investors. Jimmy has the heart of a teacher and loves to educate others on tips and tricks to creative and successful financing.

Jimmy brings firsthand landlording and finance experience to the Landlordology community, and we’re overjoyed to have him in the Cozy family. He is a wealth of knowledge for anyone looking to finance investment properties, or hoping to learn more about building a profitable portfolio.

Check out his recent articles on Landlordology and feel free to connect with him in the comments or on his personal website.

The Best Way to Collect Rent: Cozy

Written on April 16, 2015 by Ravi Dehar

The best way to collect rent is online, and while we're certainly biased, Cozy is the best way to do it. Here are three reasons why.

1. Cozy is free!

Cozy doesn't cost you or your tenants anything to collect and pay rent every month via bank transfer. There are no transaction fees, monthly fees, or any other fees. Cozy makes money on tenant credit reports, and we don't charge for rent collection.

2. Cozy is automatic.

For landlords, that means no more late payments. For tenants, that means one less thing to remember each month. A few days before rent is due, we'll send a reminder email to tenants about their upcoming payment. But there's no need to login or even push a button to make sure their rent gets paid on time. It's all done automatically.

3. Cozy makes collecting roommates' payments easier.

With Cozy, roommates don't need to worry about collecting multiple payments to submit to their landlord. Cozy automatically aggregates the payments and submits one full payment to the landlord, automatically. It's better for landlords too: you no longer need to worry about partial payments.