Apartment-rental websites and apps
Search smart with these apartment-finding apps, search tools and newsletters.
Mon Apr 23 2012
In 2003, Stephanie Diamond began her apartment search with an e-mail to her friends, and continued to receive notices of new vacancies long after finding a place and settling in. She collected the leftover listings in an e-mail she forwarded to her contacts list, and that e-mail list has since grown into a free weekly newsletter, sent every Wednesday, containing a dossier on newly available, no-fee art studios and living spaces for sublet, share, swap or lease. Anyone can sign up to receive the list, which will never include listings from brokers or other entities charging a fee. Diamond still compiles the newsletter personally, making sure no brokers or scam artists slip their posts in the Listings Project. Sign up or post a listing ($20) at stephaniediamond.com/listings.
Move, Inc. (move.com and realtor.com)
Move.com skews heavily toward buildings with multiple available units, while realtor.com takes those listings and adds apartment-community advertisers—tend to be pricey and luxury-laden (the range for Manhattan studios is $2,020–$3,440). Approximately 80 percent of listings are refreshed every 15 minutes, with the remainder being updated between one to 24 hours—which means if you call about an apartment, you won’t be disappointed to learn that someone else moved in months ago.
Naked Apartments (nakedapartments.com)
Brokers aren’t always evil. The two Harvard grads behind this site believes the good ones are worth searching for before your apartment hunt begins: Complete an anonymous profile that includes your income and credit score (if you wish), in addition to your search criteria; agents with matching listings will then send you a list of possible fits. See a unit you like? Check out reviews of the broker—the site’s other users have already vetted them for you. If the broker’s ratings are poor, you can search the site’s list of rentals to find another, more highly rated agent with listings in the same building.
Keeping track of all the potential pads that catch your eye can be a headache. This service enables apartment hunters to save listings from any website to a free personal account by clicking a toolbar button Nestio installs in a browser. The website pulls in photos, plus price, address and layout information for comparison. It also taps into Foursquare to show nearby amenities, and lets you calculate distances to your office or a friend’s place and share favorites with roommates for them to check out and comment on. The free iPhone app allows users to upload their own photos and add notes as they view each property.
New York Bits (nybits.com)
You can contact management companies that will rent to you directly on New York Bits, instead of paying hefty fees to a broker who screens places for you: The company checks that each listing submitted is a no-fee rental (and investigates any disputes if a fee appears later down the line), not brokers attempting to lure people to a fee apartment. Use the search tool to home in on no-fee pads meeting your criteria for size, price, amenities and location. Or click through the site’s extensive list of rental buildings to find out if, for example, the charming complex across the street from your favorite bakery has vacancies.
PadMapper focuses almost exclusively on the location of your new digs: For best results, type in your desired zip code; available listings, culled form Craigslist and a number of other apartment-search sites, will pop up on a Google map. Use the filter to further home in on units meeting your criteria.
Place of Mine (placeofmine.com)
What Kayak did for flights, this website hopes to do for rentals. Launched in February, it allows you to search listings from a bevy of sources, including StreetEasy and Craigslist, as well as local classifieds, brokerage websites and property managers. Place of Mine draws on publicly available information to rate each apartment on a ten-point scale—comparing it to other units with the same number of bedrooms and baths in the city—on price, access to public transport, and proximity to amenities such as parks, shops and restaurants. As with Nestio, signed-up users can map their favorite destinations to see what’s close, and they can create lists to share with roommates and add images and comments. There’s no app yet for on-the-go updates, so you’ll need to remember your insights until you’re back at your computer.
Before you even look at a rental, this site lets you investigate areas you’re interested in and consider details like the schools potential pads are zoned for, potential commute distance and the price per square foot. Street Easy provides listings from owners, brokers and no-fee brokers, but it also arms you with info that can help you score a good deal—including the length of time each has been on the market.
Size is what matters most at Trulia, where you can filter apartments by square footage—in addition to the usual criteria of price range, number of rooms and location. Though the site is skewed toward those who want to buy, it does feature thousands of rental properties updated daily and offers a wealth of user-generated information to those thinking of moving to an unfamiliar ‘hood. Similar to Yelp, other hunters post their reactions to the neighborhood’s cleanliness and walkability, and weigh in on nearby parks and schools.
Urban Edge (urbanedgeny.com)
The frequently refreshed listings on this site, which are never more than 18 days old, come directly from owners, property managers and leasing managers—no broker postings allowed.
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