Zumper reduces manual property manager verifications by 90% and cuts response times in half with Persona’s automated identity platform

See how Zumper uses Persona’s flexible, automated IDV solutions to scale property manager verification and onboard users faster.

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Zumper is a two-sided marketplace that gives property managers and owners a platform to list their properties and renters an easy way to view, evaluate, and apply for those listings. Zumper works with property managers of all sizes, from individuals with single properties or multifamily homes to some of the largest property management firms in the United States, and reaches an average of more than 3.4 million high-quality renters each month.  

Problem: Zumper needed to establish trust between the residents and property managers/owners using its platform.

Years ago, when property managers or owners had a property to rent out, they would go down to their local bulletin boards and post a flier describing the property in hopes that a renter would see it and contact them. Online rental marketplaces like Zumper can be thought of as modern bulletin boards serving the same purpose.

But making the business model work requires trust. Property managers and owners need to trust that the renters on the platform are legitimate, and renters need to trust that a listing is an accurate representation of a property — and that a listing poster isn’t simply a scam artist looking to steal their personal information, payment details, or deposit.

“Traditionally, the rental industry has benefited the property manager more than the renter,” says Johnny Tsai, VP of engineering at Zumper. “To make sure the individual would be a good renter, property managers ask for a resident screening report, credit score, criminal history, and pay stubs. Renters provide a lot of personal information to establish trust with a property manager or owner. But it’s very one-sided. How do renters know which property managers to trust?”

With this in mind, Zumper needed a way to establish trust with renters on its platform — trust that they were finding the listings that matched their criteria, getting the best value for their money, and that the property managers and owners they were working with were legitimate.

Zumper realized that in order to build trust with renters and attract them to its platform, it would need a way of verifying the property managers and owners who wanted to list on the site.

“The renters are putting a lot of their personal and financial information on the line to even have a chance at getting a rental,” says Johnny. “So, as a platform, we want to make sure we verify our property managers and owners.”

Initially, this process involved looking at a number of signals to determine how risky it would be for Zumper to do business with that individual. If this analysis resulted in too high of a risk score, the listing would fail. A member of Zumper’s team would then reach out to the individual poster to request additional information to verify the property manager.

“It was a very manual process,” says Johnny. “And it wasn’t scalable. We knew that we would ultimately need a more automated solution capable of growing with our platform.”

Renters are putting a lot of their personal and financial information on the line to even have a chance at getting a rental. So, as a platform, we want to make sure we verify our property managers and owners.
Johnny Tsai
VP of engineering at Zumper

Solution: Zumper partners with Persona to automatically verify property managers and owners and reduce the risk of scam listings on its platform.

With Persona, Zumper was able to automate much of this followup — resulting in quicker decision making and less downtime for legitimate property managers and owners looking to get their properties listed.

“The majority of property managers and owners finance their properties with a mortgage,” says Johnny. “Vacancies are expensive. Just one month without a resident can result in a major loss of investment. There’s an incentive to get legitimate property managers and owners verified as quickly as possible.”

Some of the other reasons Zumper ultimately chose to partner with Persona include:

Ease of integration

Users — both property managers and owners and renters — can interact with Zumper in a number of ways: through the company’s website as well as its Android and iOS apps. A key focus of Zumper’s engineering team was finding a solution that would facilitate verification while also allowing all of these different entry points to be easily aggregated.

“Being able to easily integrate across multiple platforms was important to us,” says Johnny. “Persona’s ability to be flexible, especially over different mobile browsers, was a key differentiation.”

Johnny also notes that many of the other IDV solutions they were considering would have required Zumper to build its own APIs and design its own user interface.

“The fact that Persona supports its own UI out-of-the-box makes it a very low barrier to adoption,” says Johnny. “We didn’t want to have to reinvent the wheel just to get started.”

The fact that Persona supports its own UI out-of-the-box makes it a very low barrier to adoption. We didn’t want to have to reinvent the wheel just to get started.
Johnny Tsai
VP of engineering at Zumper

Expertise in handling PII

Zumper also recognized that whatever solution it chose would be handling a lot of sensitive information — i.e., everything a property manager or owner provided the company during verification. As such, it needed to ensure its identity solution could collect, transfer, and store this information securely so Zumper could be confident it was protecting the privacy of its users.

“Any solution we ended up choosing was going to be dealing with a lot of personal information,” says Johnny. “So the tool needed to be experts at the engineering work and in protecting identity information.”

The fact that Persona’s solutions are fully compliant with key privacy regulations — including the CCPA and GDPR — was a big part of why Zumper ultimately chose Persona. Likewise, our certification to the highest security standards — like SOC 2, NIST 800-63, and ISO 27001 — made it clear that Persona had the expertise Zumper was looking for in a partner.

Results: Zumper was able to reduce manual verifications by roughly 90% and cut response times by 50-60%.

Since deploying Persona’s automated IDV solutions, Zumper has significantly reduced the number of manual verifications its team must complete. “In 2023, we automatically screened approximately 90,000 property managers and owners using Persona,” says Johnny.

With an almost 90% pass rate, that meant that Zumper’s team only had to manually follow up with the remaining 10% who failed initial verification — a significant reduction vs. the completely manual process the company used to have.

Lower volumes also made for much faster response times, empowering Zumper to approve legitimate property managers and owners who failed automatic verification much more quickly than would have been possible with manual review.

This translates into real value for property managers and owners looking to fill vacancies as fast as possible to preserve their cash flow. It also frees up Zumper’s team to spend more time focusing on identifying and removing any fraudulent listings that may have made it onto the platform, creating a healthier marketplace for renters.

“Manual verification is the most time-consuming part of customer support,” says Johnny. “In the past, it could take anywhere from three to five days. Now, in the worst case, if a manager or owner fails the automatic verification, they’re reviewed within 48 hours. In 2023, we averaged a turnaround time of 28 hours for manual review.”

Looking ahead, Zumper is excited to continue tweaking and optimizing its verification flows to ensure it’s adapting to any new strategies or workarounds that fraudsters are using, while still providing a pleasant UI for users.

“It’s an ongoing battle,” says Johnny. “Scammers always find new ways to manipulate the system so we constantly have to make sure that our logic is sound to eliminate those loopholes.”

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