Apartment Finding Apps

Friday, October 31, 2014

Screenshot of Zillow Rentals app

Update: I didn't know Zillow bought HotPads. You learn something everyday...

The last time I looked for an apartment, I got the Apartment Guide book that can be found in many little newspaper kiosks around the DMV area (actually, now that I think about it, one of my friends gave it to me, lol). This time around, I have been putting my iPhone to good use and downloading and using apartment apps. Unlike the Apartment Guide book, the apps are more up-to-date and also show apartments that are owned by individuals as opposed to apartment companies, giving me more results. They also allow me to find apartments and email their respective manager all within the app, as opposed to finding the apartment in the book or online, and then sending them an email.

My favorite apartment apps are Apartment List, Zillow Rentals, and HotPads. All three of them show me apartments within a specific area; allow me to apply filters like price range, amount of bedrooms/bathrooms, amenities, etc.; and give me details on the apartment. But each one has its own pros and cons.

Apartment List
Pros: A customer service rep from Apartment List always reaches out to me when I send an email. This is wonderful and proactive. It also means that I have visited every apartment that I emailed through this app increasing my chances of renting through them. The customer service reps are always friendly and polite, as well as knowledgeable about the apartment.
Cons: Apartment List always gives me the address of an apartment, but not always the name or the name is buried somewhere in the details. This can get frustrating especially if I am trying to find more information or read reviews online.

Pros: I love that in the map section this app shows results for grocery stores, restaurants, parks, public transportation, etc. Since I do not have a car (at least for now), I need to make sure that wherever I live, I am within walking distance to most of what I need, as well as close to the metro or a bus line.
Cons: You can only show location results from one state, and this gets really frustrating if you are in a bi or tri-state area like DC. When I apply price filters, I would rather get all results for DC, MD, and VA, instead of having to pick a state and move back and forth between the three.
*Check out Zillows DC apartments listings here.*

HotPads
Pros: I get house and townhome results on HotPads, which while most are out of my price range, they do allow the option for others who are looking for them. There also have been a few townhomes that I would be willing to move into, so it does give me a few more options than Zillow or Apartment List.
Cons: Out of the three apps, I get the least amount of responses from apartment managers on HotPads. I've sent over 20 emails, and only got 2 responses, which pales in comparison from Zillow, where I get a response about 50% of the time, and Apartment List, where I get a response 100% of the time.

All in all, these apps have really made my life easier. I have been more active in finding a place to live compared to when I was looking for an apartment last time. With their help, I know I will be on my way to finding a new place to call home.

Check back next week where I detail the pros and cons of living in DC, VA, and MD.

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