For a long time, apartment hunting was quite the ordeal, and anyone seeking a new place to live had to drive around looking for yard signs, sort through cryptic classified ads, and play phone tag with landlords and property managers.Thankfully, the times are a changin’.Mobile app startup companies, online real estate heavy hitters, and even good ol’ local listing firms are preparing to streamline the fragmented business of apartment advertising and hunting, hoping to make it more reliable for landlords and property managers as well as more user-friendly for prospective tenants.
The goal is to transform a thriving business — nearly 2.3 million households rent apartments, rather than own their home, in Los Angeles and Orange Counties — into a modern, successful marketplace, making the process of finding a dream apartment a little easier.
For now, many apartment hunters are still faced with challenges that seem outdated in the digital age. Consumers now have the ability to comparison shop for hotel rooms, transportation prices, and even houses via their smartphones, tablets, and computers, thanks to data-rich websites featuring up-to-the-second data. However, there’s no such thing available for the rental market, with apartment listings falling short on convenience and thoroughness.
To say that finding an apartment in any major metropolitan area is tough is an understatement. Renters have to be on the lookout for yard signs, in addition to spending hours scouring Craiglist ads, on top of visiting rental offices. Not to mention tracking down landlords, going through tedious application processes, and fighting other prospective tenants tooth and nail to come out on top. Yes, tough is truly an understatement. There is no single source that displays everything on the market at once.
RadPad, a photo-based mobile app, aims to expedite the process of apartment hunting in Southern California. The app generates a list of all available apartments based on the user’s location. The app was designed by Jonathan Eppers and a few friends after dealing with the frustration of finding an apartment in L.A.
Eppers, who formerly worked for EHarmony, used the principles he learned while working for the online dating site — for examples, profiles with three or more photos pique more interest — when designing RadPad. With a few quick swipes and taps, users can share listings with friends and contact landlords.
“Our clients are spending hours online every day so that’s where our advertising and marketing needs to be. It is also important to offer visitors an informative and engaging experience when they come to your website or landing page,” says Svetlana Mosyurova, marketing director for Post Brothers Apartments.The app is slated to roll out a mobile payment service in the future, which will allow renters to not only pass on mailing out a check to pay rent, but build a payment history to show future landlords. So far, the app has been a success, drawing nearly 85,000 visitors each month and attracting the attention of other mobile startups that hope to develop similar apps in other metropolitan rental markets.