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August 12th, 2000

Apartment Search

Now that I’ve got a good, steady job and a new car, the logical step is to find an apartment. I’ve started looking already to get a feel for things, but won’t move out for a few months.

A very helpful tool in my search has been, surprise!, the net. I now have an idea of what apartments go for in the areas I want to live in, along with amenities and other things to expect. The downside is that there are a lot of apartment sites out there, and none have contiguous listings. There is no metasearch for these sites that I know of; as consolation, here are my thoughts on the apartment sites:

www.rent.net: This is the biggest and largely the best. Super easy interface gets you poking about in moments. I wish I could narrow the rent price range a little more; I have to select "$500 to $799" even though my budget allows rent up to $600. Also, you can’t search for more than one type (studio, 1 br, 2 br) of apartment at a time.

apartments.com: This site has the backing of lots of newspapers. Nice interface that really steps you through things – good idea. Lots of options insofar as price, amenities, and type go. Individual ads are just as nice as rent.net’s. There may be backend problems: I clicked on "Apt. Community" for a local property and got information on a nice two bedroom in Maryland. oops.

Yahoo! Real Estate: Yahoo! gives it a shot and does fairly well with a classifieds format, and aggregates information from rent.net and apartmentguide.com, along with its own listings. Navigation is fine, results are easily sorted. Not too many search options since this is a classified ad interface, but nice overall.

apartmentguide.com: Now this is tough. The site is molasses, the interface is too techy (I want information, not pretty 20K graphics!), but occasionally you find something good that you can’t find on other sites. The property-specific detail is slim… barely a step above classified ads. I think they’re trying to make it very simple (look at the front page), but missing the mark slightly.

SpringStreet: Tabbed interface! ungh! But hey… lots of cities to choose from. Lots of options for price, amenities, and location. They’ve also teamed up with newspapers, so you’ll get a modicum of classifieds.

And that’s the way it is. Happy hunting. -pm

Posted in Technology

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