Let’s face it: Finding an apartment is a drag. It can be stressful and time-consuming. And in the most competitive rental markets like New York City and San Francisco — if you don’t move quickly — you can lose out on a place.
New apps, services and tools have emerged to not only making it easier to find an apartment, but some allow you to create and sign a rental agreement via the app, do credit checks right online, and even have your own personal concierge to help you find that perfect place.
Here are some to check out:
Like many competitors, Zumper offers maps, neighborhood guides and a mobile app, but what makes it unique is you can fill out your rental application – including pulling your Experian credit report – right from your iPhone or Android.
Then when you find an apartment you like, Zumper offers a one-click application.
“You can apply directly, instead of having to go back and forth to the landlord,” said Devin O’Brien, head of strategic marketing at Zumper. “You can almost be completely pre-qualified and ready to go. That gives you a big advantage if you’re in a market like San Francisco, for instance, where it’s absolutely crazy and you’ll have 20 or 30 people looking at one place. You can lock that down quickly.”
PadMapper lets you search by map and offers hundreds of thousands of listings in the U.S. and Canada. Pull up the site where there’s a full-screen map and listings are loaded as you move around the map. Use filters to match available apartments with your preferences like price, number of bedrooms, etc. Drill down deeper and search for amenities like pet-friendly, full-term leases, rooms/shares and by owner only. View listings on your computer, take them with you via PadMapper’s mobile apps and save any leads for later.
PadMapper, which Zumper acquired earlier this year, is keeping its own platform and is aimed at a younger demographic.
“PadMapper has amazing brand equity with millennials – whether they’re in college looking for a room for rent or looking for their first or second apartment out of college,” O’Brien said. “So it’s a lot of inventory that has a lot more rooms. It’s cheaper places in the city if you’re looking for something a little smaller, more affordable.”
3. Walk Score
This app is cool because it ranks apartments based on their walkability, bikeability or proximity to public transportation. Plug in an address and it will tell you how long it takes to get somewhere – whether it’s the local coffee shop, park, school, bus, train or grocery store. Type in your work address and the app will search apartment listings by your estimated commute time.
“The number one thing that distinguishes Walk Score from other rental apps and websites is that we’re the first I believe to launch a search-by-travel time,” said Aleisha Jacobson, business manager at Walk Score, a Redfin company. “It lets people filter their results by travel time to the places they want to be – whether that’s the cool restaurants and things you frequent with your friends or whether you need to be near your parents’ house because you need to help out.”
It also allows you to search jointly if you’ll have a roommate.
If you’re looking for a “concierge,” who can put together a list of apartments specifically for you and even set up appointments at the properties—check out startup Quo. It employs a team of “local experts” that have been through the “pain of finding a place and want to make it easier for you,” according to the site.
“Essentially, Quo is an apartment search concierge service where we provide renters with a personal assistant to do all of their searching and scheduling for them,” explained Quo co-founder Naman Desai. “We really curate a search for them, so we actually learn a lot about what their life is like. What’s unique about them? What’s the neighborhood vibe they’re looking for?”
The concierges are available nearly around the clock via email, text and phone. A mobile app is coming later this year. Currently, it’s available in NYC, Chicago and Cleveland, but there plans to expand.