Craigslist isn't the only option for finding an apartment. There are plenty of startups dedicated to making this painful and traumatic process easier -- if that is even possible.
For instance, ApartmentList is launching the "world’s first apartment matching engine" at TechCrunch Disrupt 2011 in San Francisco. Although the site has already been public in beta mode for some time now, today marks the unveiling of the full-fledged version of the platform.
ApartmentList reps attest that their platform is "quick, transparent and even enjoyable." Although that last adjective is a bit of a stretch when it comes to looking for a place to live in a highly competitive renters market, the site is certainly more friendly and feature-filled than Craigslist or the classifieds section in a newspaper. (Does anyone even use those anymore??)
Founder and CEO John Kobs describes his site as a "DNA strand for your apartment hunt."
"This industry has not changed in its online search experience in probably a decade," said Kobs, "We hope to come in and innovate that for the consumer."
ApartmentList gets its content by aggregating existing listings from other apartment rental sites nationwide like Rent.com. It's also heavy into Facebook integration. Not only do users of the service have to login using Facebook Connect, but there are also automatic recommendations based on your activities and those of your friends, and collaborative hunting with Facebook friends.
Some of ApartmentList's other special features include:
- Has a base of one million apartment units nationwide and counting
- Consistent listing details and photos to help compare top apartment matches
- Editorial content on individual cities and neighborhoods
- Easy-to-read map with highlighted nearby restaurants, entertainment and shopping options based on one's profile
- Entertaining questions ranging from “Do you have any money in the stock market?” to “What is your favorite type of birthday cake?” to refine apartment matches based on amenities as well as likely based on neighborhood descriptions and demographics
That last one on the list seems reminiscent of something one might see on OkCupid, but perhaps that kind of personal touch is what rental agencies and similar search solutions might be overlooking.
Within the next four months, Kobs revealed that ApartmentList will be available in the form of a mobile app starting with optimization for iOS followed by Android. The focus of the app will be a "Saturday afternoon planner" in which users can get to know their potential neighborhoods with a prepared schedule of eateries and watering holes based on Yelp reviews in a particular area.
[Note: The screenshot above reflects the beta version of the site.]
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