A new interactive game pokes fun at the nonsense of Tel Aviv’s rental market
How staggering and unpredictable have asking prices become for even run-down rental apartments in Tel Aviv? A new interactive game that lets players guess the asking rent of an apartment in Israel’s most expensive city based on a few photos, general location and number of rooms has people hooked.
The aim is to highlight some of the absurdities of Tel Aviv’s real estate landscape and reflect how in tune players are with the realities of a compressed and booming housing market. Players enter a guess and click “Next” to find out how close they were to the actual asking price.
The online game, called Rent WTF, was created by data and software engineer Yoav Tepper, a self-proclaimed “data freak” and resident of Tel Aviv.
Tepper told The Times of Israel that he was motivated to create Rent WTF because “you can hear everywhere, especially on social media, that everyone is talking about rental prices and how quickly things are changing. I thought of a way to raise awareness of the situation, but also to make people smile. »
The game responds to guesses – good or bad or close – with humor, encouraging players with a “very impressive” message or “either you’re cheating or you’re a real estate appraiser” or criticizing them with “terrible” and “not even close.
After five guesses, the game provides a score. (This writer was wrong only 15% of the time, with a guess right on the nose.)
Tepper says that the apartment “features” provided by the game, as the price indices are not predefined.
“I took a bunch of listings and added the same details as the original listing. While some of them mentioned square feet or number of floors, others only mentioned neighborhood or the number of coins. It also shows how inconsistent this market is,” he said.
“I think there is so much variation in Tel Aviv rental prices that there is no single predictor for asking price. Probably, ‘located in Tel Aviv’ is the most important,” he said.
The game circulated widely and was received with universal enthusiasm. Reactions have included a politician and former Knesset member playing it live on TV (and massively understating the actual rental prices), and positive comments on social media platforms from those who have tried. to understand the most serious point behind the quiz.
Rent WTF was a fun side project designed to highlight the levels of unpredictability in rental prices in Tel Aviv, Tepper said, adding that he wanted to make his voice heard in the debate but had no idea how. how quickly the game would take off.
“While some might get it right and just enjoy the game, others will be way off and have a red flag,” he explained.
Tepper’s average error in estimating rental prices is 7.6%, he disclosed.
Tepper said his goal in creating the game was a social one rather than a commercial one. But in the longer term, he would like to expand it to cover real estate markets outside of Tel Aviv, and see gambling as a way to add “market sentiment” into the housing price equation.
Rents in Israel have increased by around 20% in the first half of 2022. But in Tel Aviv, according to anecdotal reports from tenants and real estate agents, lease renewals often ask for prices 20 to 40% higher than those from last year.
A recent analysis by The Times of Israel suggests that while some people are willing to pay extra to live in Tel Aviv, many simply find themselves excluded from the city. With new construction focused on luxury residences, they see little prospect of change.