When you're looking for an apartment, it can sometimes feel like you can never find the right information. While there are tons of places to look for your next place, not a lot of the best tools are known. No need to worry! This article will help make your next apartment search as smooth as possible by introducing you to some of the new best tools available.
1. Use a rental resume generator
If you're looking for a place in a competitive market, it's important to stand out from the crowd. One way to do this is through a rental resume, which is essentially a one-page summary of your most relevant skills and experience. It can be submitted with applications or when meeting with landlords and property managers to show off how convenient you are as a prospective tenant.
Rental-resume.com offers an easy-to-use generator that asks for basic information about yourself (name, email address) before asking questions about where you live now, why you're moving, what kind of apartment or house you want and what type of job search strategy you plan on using going forward. It then creates an elegant document based on your answers that can be downloaded directly onto any device—perfect for printing and bringing with you during apartment tours!
2. Search parameters on Apartments.com and Zillow
Apartments.com and Zillow both enable you to use keywords to narrow down your search in their filters tab. Why not try a unique keyword for the type of apartment you're looking for? Search "cozy" or "living room windows" and see the interesting results you might get!
While adding your exact search phrase, don't forget about apartment features like "floor-to-ceiling windows" or "rooftop pool" that can help define your ideal living situation.
3. Facebook housing groups
Facebook is full of housing groups, and there’s no better resource for finding a roommate or apartment. You can easily search for groups in your city and connect with thousands of locals.
In order to find the best groups, look for ones that are active, with lots of members and posts. If a group is well moderated, chances are you can find a great apartment there.
Once you’ve found a group, post what you’re looking for. Include your budget, the type of place you want to live in, and any other important details. The more specific you are, the better responses you will receive.
If you’re looking for a safe and well-moderated group, we manage a brand called Housing Rocket. There are thousands of members who share information every day. Each post is reviewed our team and only relevant posts are allowed. We are now in almost 500 cities!
4. Use a property tracker spreadsheet
To keep track of your search, it's a great idea to put them into a spreadsheet. You can easily see and compare units, prices, and any special offers that come up. There are tons of ways to put together this type of document. Lighthouse offers a free template that includes relevant columns for any part of your search and guide your decision as you move through the process.
5. Score your rental eligibility
One of the most important factors in determining whether a landlord will accept you as a tenant is your credit score. If you have bad credit, this can make it difficult to rent an apartment. While landlords cannot legally reject applicants based on their race or national origin, they can discriminate against you because of your poor financial history.
If your rental history report shows any late payments or accounts that are currently past due, it could affect the way some landlords see your application. Because of this and other reasons (such as potential damage that could happen to their property), many landlords choose not to rent their properties out unless they feel comfortable with their prospective tenant's ability and willingness to pay the agreed-upon monthly rent in full every month throughout their lease term (usually 12 months).
Fortunately, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) of 1970 makes it illegal for landlords to access your credit report without your permission. Under this law, they can only access this information if you sign a release form that authorizes them to see your rental history.
6. Check for scam profiles
Profile Check is a quick and easy tool that allows you to verify the legitimacy of your next apartment listing. The team at Housing Rocket analyzes the profile and gives an indication if it's a fake. The site also offers links to common scams and how to avoid them, as well as tips on how to spot a scam in progress.
7. Don't forget social media like TikTok and Instagram
Social media is a great way to find out about local events, restaurants, and bars. But did you know you can use social media to learn more about the apartment?
One of my favorite ways to do this is by searching for the account of your apartment on Instagram. The community manager often posts beautiful photos of the units, common areas, and communal events. You can also ask questions about an apartment directly.
Some even have their own TikTok accounts with video clips submitted by residents highlighting their favorite things about living there. This can give you an idea of what it’s like living in the city while also providing some entertainment while you search for new apartments!
8. Visualize your apartment on Matterport
Matterport is a 3D imaging platform that allows users to view interior spaces in detail. To get started, you can search for the property on Matterport's website, and then you'll be able to click through each room to see different angles of it. You can take an immersive tour of your potential apartment from your phone before stepping foot into it.
Matterport also allows you to plan furniture placement and create a floor plan so that you know where everything goes beforehand, which makes moving into an unfamiliar space easier once the lease has been signed.
9. Walk around on Google Street View
This is an incredible tool for looking at apartments. Google Street View allows you to see what it looks like outside the building, and gives a visual representation of the neighborhood in which it is located.
You can check out all of your favorite restaurants, bars, coffee shops and more before even setting foot in that area. Many apartment listings also include a photo of their property taken from google street view so you can get an idea of its layout before even visiting!
10. Analyze your rent price on Rentometer
Rentometer is a tool that allows you to enter the rent of your apartment and it will tell you how much other apartments in the market are renting for. It's a great way to make sure that you're paying a fair price for your rent, but also helps you determine if there are better deals in other neighborhoods.
11. Browse apartment review sites
If you want to find out more about an apartment building or complex, there are plenty of ways to do so. You can check out Yelp reviews, Google reviews, and ApartmentReviews. One thing that's important is to be careful about which reviews you trust—there are some reviewers who seem like they have a vested interest in the property (i.e., they manage or own that property), while others may have no idea what they're talking about. As always with this kind of research, take everything with a grain of salt!
One careful thing to note is that many apartments will change names over time when one manager leaves or another takes over management duties. Do a little diligence and see if you can find older reviews with a different property name. Trust me when I say this could save you some serious headache.
12. Search for your apartment on Reddit
Reddit is a social media platform that packs a powerful search function. Enter your apartment name as a keyword in the search bar and see what pops up!
To use it effectively, think of Reddit as a community-based search engine that gives you access to local news and information about communities. This can be particularly helpful if you're searching for apartments online and want to find out everything you can about the property.
13. Work with an apartment locator
One of the best ways to find an apartment is by working with an apartment locator. Locators are local experts who know the ins and outs of the community, and have relationships with many of the tops buildings around. They know exactly where to look for your perfect apartment based on your preferences, including special searches like dens, rooftop pools, floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed brick walls, electric car chargers, and more. At Lighthouse, our team of Lightkeepers help you find the home you’ve always dreamed about in no time! Plus, we’re free and come with rewards that make moving so easy!
14. Do a rent vs. own analysis
When you’re trying to figure out the best place for you and your family, it can be hard to know what’s going to be most beneficial. Renting or buying a home? Is there an option that will save us money in the long run?
A rent vs. own calculator can help with this confusing situation by showing how much money you could save over time by renting or buying a house based on current housing market conditions and estimated prices for rent or mortgage payments.
One of the best calculators to calculate rent versus own is the one provided by Bankrate. To use it, you enter in information about how much your current monthly rent is, how much it costs to buy a home in your area, and what you can afford for a down payment on a house.
15. Lookup the property through your local government
Tracking down the owner of a property is important for several reasons. First, it's possible that a single family home might be a fake listing. If so, you’ll want to verify with your local county assessor who owns the property and check their website for any available information on recent sales or transfers of ownership. Once you have this information, use it as part of your apartment search process to see if there are any rental histories associated with that particular address.
16. Double check against the ADT Crime Map
ADT Crime Map is a free service that provides crime data to the public. You can search for a specific address or neighborhood, and see what types of crimes have occurred. It's an invaluable tool in determining whether the neighborhood for your apartment or house is safe!
17. Don't get too hungry looking at Eater maps
Eater is a food and restaurant search engine. It has a restaurant search engine where you can find information about all kinds of eateries, from fast food joints to fine dining establishments. The site also has a food index, which helps you find recipes for meals to cook at home and restaurants in your area that serve those foods.
The Eater map is an interactive tool that lets you search for restaurants based on what kind of cuisine they have as well as their location on Google Maps. For example, if you want Italian food nearby or Indian food near work, Eater's map will show you how close these places are by displaying each one with its own marker on Google Maps' interface. You can use this feature while driving around town or searching online from the comfort of your couch!
18. See how walkable your neighborhood is
While you can find a lot of information about your potential apartment from the real estate listing, it's not always easy to know whether or not the neighborhood is going to suit you. Walkscore is a website that rates any address on its walkability, meaning how close it is to amenities (things like grocery stores, restaurants and parks) within a five minute walking radius. This can be useful if you're looking for a location near public transportation or need something in a specific part of town.
19. Make sure your kids are going to great schools
Great Schools is an excellent resource for parents and school-aged children. You can look up individual schools by state (or country) so you can get a good idea of what's available in your area. It offers information about the best schools in your area, including their test scores, demographics and safety ratings.
The site also has an extensive database of information on private schools as well as public ones. It's easy to search through the site's directory to find someone who fits your needs perfectly!
18. Check your internet
When searching for your next apartment, one thing you shouldn't overlook is the speed of the internet. No matter how great your apartment looks or how convenient it is to get around town, if you don't have good internet, then you're going to be left out in the cold. Luckily, we've found a site that can help: highspeedinternet.com has all the info you need about what speeds are available in different areas and which providers offer them. It also lets users rate each provider so other renters know whether their prospective landlord can keep up with their streaming habits (or if they should just stick with Hulu).
20. Find apartments with cash back on Lighthouse
One of the best ways to save money on rent is through apartment specials. The next best way might be through cash back on rent. With Lighthouse, you can earn cash back on your next lease. Here's how it works:
Lighthouse has partnered with thousands of apartment communities across America to help renters find the right place and make sure they're getting the best deal possible.
When you use Lighthouse to find your perfect home, you'll be matched with a Lightkeeper who will help you:
21. Afford your a new home with Loftium
Loftium is a platform that helps you find your next home. It’s also a marketplace for rental properties, which means there are plenty of other people looking for homes too. The app helps you save money by subletting spare units on Airbnb—but it's only available in certain cities so far. Still, it could be a great tool to have in your arsenal.
22. Save even more with Padsplit
Padsplit is a roommate matching service that helps landlords fill multi-room units with new roommate pairs and make more money. It also saves money for individuals by splitting rooms by pairing you up with someone who shares similar interests. It's a great spot to start your search if you are looking to save money on rent or get out of an uncomfortable living situation.
24. Rent to own with Divvy
If you’re thinking about buying a home, but don’t want to commit to a mortgage before you know the area or your housing situation is uncertain, Divvy is an option worth considering.
Divvy buys a house at market value and lets you move in as a tenant paying them rent (the same as if you were renting from anyone else).
This is a nice list of the many new and unique tools that can help you find an apartment. If you have any questions about any of these tools or have any others you'd recommend, leave us a comment below. We'd love to hear and we're always looking for new and better tools.