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The best apartment rental sites and apps - Curbed

The best apartment rental sites and apps
Sunny Eckerle
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been updated with the most recent information.
Long gone are the days when apartment hunters had to carefully scan the newspaper classifieds to find a place to live. Today, any renter can easily access millions of apartment listings through hundreds of digital databases and rental search engines. Frankly, the options can be overwhelming.
To help ease your next apartment search, we spent some time researching and using dozens of rental websites. Many share the same basic functionality, allowing you to search for a price range, size, and location, but each tries to stand out with specialized features: Zillow lets you draw the area you want to search, while Homes.com targets students with sections for off-campus housing.
Below, youll find an alphabetical list of 20 national rental listing websites, highlighting the most useful functions for each site. Most have mobile apps, and weve included the ratings so you know if an app is actually useful.
Abodo
Abodo provides a visually streamlined way to search for rentals based on basic requirements like rent, number of bedrooms, and a few specific factors that may be non-negotiables (i.e. air-conditioning, pet-friendly). Details for each listing open right up over the search results, which can be sorted by relevancy, price, recency, and popularity.
Search tip: In map view, listing icons turn grey after youve clicked on them, so you wont keep looking at the same listing five times.
On-the-go: The new iOS app scored 4.5 stars and the Android app got a solid 4 stars.
Apartment Guide
If you are looking for a website that provides a plethora of photos and floorplans, look no further. Apartment Guide provides 360-degree tours, videos, and photos for most listings. Listingsmost of which are from large management companiesfeature intuitive icons to indicate amenities, like if theres a dishwasher or if dogs are allowed.
Search tip: There are a lot of filters, including ones that allow you to search the neighborhood and find nearby activities, like hiking.
On-the-go: The iOS app is rated 2.5 stars, while the Android app scored higher at 4 stars. The app offers a reputation monitor for both landlords and renters.
Apartments.com
Apartments.com is one of the more comprehensive search engines out there for rentals. Theres a large range of filters, from the usual price range and apartment type, to the more specialty features which allows you to search for particular types of apartments, such as military, income restricted, and student housing.
The default view is a map, and while you cant search by neighborhood, there is a keyword search instead as well as a Polygon tool, which allows you to map out exact search borders. Apartments.com also lets you search for listings that have a video or 3D tour. For those moving to a new city, the site also features neighborhood guides to each city.
Search tip: You can filter your search according to commute time from the apartment to work via any mode of transportation. The "Plan Commute" feature lets you choose how long you want your commute to be, anywhere from as low as one minute to as much as an hour.
On-the-go: The most recent iOS app has 4.5 stars while the Android version has 4.
Coldwell Banker
Coldwell Banker is for the wealthy renters out there. The easy-to-use site offers mostly single-family homes, many of which are definitely luxury (like this $120,000 home in Los Angeles). The website also offers a rather specific set of filters that are sure to help any renter find a home that fits their unique taste (for instance, you could search only for smart homes), and there is a handy school district overlay which is important for any family moving to a new city.
Search tip: Have your butler do your searching (if youre wealthy enough for Coldwell Banker to be your go-to rental site, youre wealthy enough for a butler).
On-the-go: Woof: The iOS app has only 1 star. But the Android app has 3.
Craigslist
The OG rental website, Craigslist is still a must for nearly every apartment hunter. You have to wade through a lot of scams and duplicate listings, but Craigslist still offers some of the best deals since owners and small landlords can post listings directly for free. You can filter by fee or no fee, set a price range and apartment size, and indicate a few amenities.
Search tip: The key to Craigslist is to search for your requirements every day. This is how you spot the best deals first.
On-the-go: There are a surprising number of Craigslist apps out there. CPro has the best reviews for Android users, while CPlus seems the best for iPhones. Craiglist.com also automatically loads in a mobile-friendly format on smartphone web browsers.
For Rent
This websites strength lies with the detailed information it provides about apartment buildings. You can get an overview of the building amenities, and often thats accompanied by a short video and photo gallery. ForRent.com also includes floorplans. Its slightly more challenging to find one-off listings or listings not from a large management company. The site also offers free moving quotes and a calculator to help you figure out how much rent you can afford.
Search tip: ForRent.com has a plethora of filters, including neighborhood options.
On-the-go: The iOS app is slightly better, with a rating of 4.5, while the Android app clocks in at an even 4 stars.
Sunny Eckerle
Home Finder isnt a fancy website, but it does offer a bare-bones list of locations and their housing details (it also powers the real estate search engines for 375 newspapers across the country). What the website lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in the exhaustive number of houses available for viewing in cities across the United States. Listings give you details about the neighborhood, including median homeowner age and years in residence.
Search tip: HomeFinder.com lets you search by the age of the home, and you can specify a wide variety of types, including farms and house boats.
Homes.com
Homes.com is definitely more geared toward buyers, but it does offer a hearty database for rental listings as well listings pulled from different brokerages and its sister site ForRent.com. Homes.com sorts the properties listed into such categories as retirement communities, off-campus housing, and short term housing. Each listing offers information on the schools nearby, including a grade calculated by state test performance data.
Search tip: You can do the basics (price, size, year built, building type), but no filters for amenities. Map view is very easy for exploring a location.
On-the-go: The iOS app has 4.5 stars, and the Android app has 4 stars.
Hotpads
Acquired by Zillow in 2014, Hotpads is an incredibly in-depth and dynamic search engine for rentals across the country. You can set the basics, like your price range and apartment size and type, but there are no filters for neighborhoods or amenities. Instead, you can search for keywords. The default view is a user-friendly map, with a list alongside it, and there are overlays that show an apartments proximity to public transportation and bike lanes.
Hotpads also tells you how long a property has been listed on the website and shows the level of interest in the property, indicating how many times a listing has been viewed and how many times the agent has been contacted.
Search tip: If youre wary of listings with no photos, Hotpads is for you: There is a filter that lets you search only for listings with multiple photos.
On-the-go: The current iOS app has a 5-star rating while the Android app has 4.
Sunny Eckerle
The search engine for the New York Times Real Estate listing is fairly standard, you type in your price range, neighborhood of interest and size of the household. While this is nothing exemplary, the Times does offer a lot of great context for neighborhoods, providing information and reviews of nearby options for food, fitness, and more (powered by Foursquare), and links to recent real estate articles.
Search tip: For New York neighborhoods, the Times also provides a deeper dive into the housing market of that area.
On-the-go: No Android app; the iOS app has 3 stars.
PadMapper
PadMapper underwent a redesign , making it a much more enjoyable site to use. The website pulls its information from other companies such as Airbnb, ForRent, and PadLister to form a comprehensive rental map (it used to pull listings from Craigslist as well, but Craigslist made them stop ).
The default view is a map, and this carries over to the individual listings. Instead of highlighting just that location when youre viewing the details, PadMapper continues to show other listings nearby, so you can easily hop around the neighborhood without continually going back to the main map.
Additionally, if youre searching for an apartment with one or more friends PadMapper can also calculate what you can afford via rent per bedroom.
Search tip: You can favorite and hide listings quickly and easily mark the places youre interested in and ignore the rest.
On-the-go: The iOS app has 5 stars, while the Android app has 4.5.
Realtor
Realtor provides almost everything you need in a real estate website. Its fast, and lets you personalize your search with the basics, plus a lot of amenities. The listing pages go into a lot of detail about the neighborhoodyoull find a price comparison with nearby homes and other areas, stats on the schools, and a Yelp-powered map that shows restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, and more.
Search tip: Scroll all the way down on the listing page to see suggested listings with similar features in the same neighborhood.
Rent.com
A move to a new city can often bring new expenses, taxes, rent increases and utilities. Rent.com looks to save you money in one regard: Through the websites Moving Center , you can get free moving quotes simply by listing the size of your house, its location, and where you are headed. If you want to get an insiders look at a potential home, Rent.com offers a virtual tour through many of the properties on its website.
The selection is more limited than bigger sites like Zillow and Zumper, and most of the listings appear to be for apartment buildings with multiple units on the market, rather than individual apartments. The default view is a list, but you can switch to a map view.
Search tip: Rent.com has one of the more robust selections of filters, allowing you to specify if you need income-restricted housing or want a place where the utilities are included in the rent.
On-the-go: The iOS app has 3 stars, and the Android app has 4.
RentCafe
RentCafe is different than other rental search websites in that they only have listings direct from property managers. Renters are able to check real-time unit availability and apply for apartments online. Even after youve scored a place, you can still use RentCafe to manage your rental, from submitting maintenance requests to renewing your lease online. The interface of the website is your standard map with filters. You can also search for neighborhoods by zip code, radius, and Polygon.
Search tip: If youre on a tight budget, you can search for lower than average rate listings. Simply check off "cheap apartments for rent" under the Rentals tab.
On-the-go: RentCafe has an app for residents, which is rated 1.5 stars for the iOS version and 3 stars on Android .
RentHop
RentHop, serving most major markets in the U.S. offers the standard fare of list and map views, plus a good range of filters from Has Floorplan to Common Outdoor Space. What sets this site apart is its own HopScore, an assessment of how good each listing is based on its freshness, listing quality, and manager reputation.
Search tip: Look for the Price Comparison in each listing, which tells you how the rent for a particular pad compares to median rents for similar apartments in the same area.
On-the-go: The iOS app has a 4.5-star rating. Theres no Android app for renters but there is one for landlords and brokers, currently rated 3 stars.
Rent Jungle
Rental prices often seem sporadic and random; a good deal today is a bad one tomorrow. With its Rent Comparison tool , Rent Jungle is able to to provide a quick judgment on whether youre receiving a fair deal or not. The websites geomap also discerns between single and multiple occupancy dwellings through straightforward graphics, and the icons turn grey after you click one.
Search tip: You can search for military housing.
On-the-go: The Rent Jungle app got a 3.5 stars for the iOS version and 3 stars for the Android one.
Sunny Eckerle
Sublet.com has been around since 1999, and it looks like the website has not been updated since then. The site is, indeed, mostly sublets, but it also offers regular rentals from smaller landlords, as well. You can sort by neighborhood, and indicate whether youre just looking for a room or a whole apartment. You can also filter by the length of lease you need.
Search tip: Sublet.com isnt limited to the United Statesyou can use this site to find rooms and apartments in Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Central and South America.
On-the-go: No apps, just a mobile website that is kind of annoying to use.
Trulia
Another Zillow-owned property, Trulia has been in the real estate search engine game since 2005. Thanks to partnerships with CrimeReports.com, EveryBlock.com, and SpotCrime.com, theyre able to offer users location-specific information regarding crime, local schools, amenities, and commute times. The interface is intuitive, and you can view search results in a list, grid, or map.
Search tip: For cities with robust public transportation options, a " Near Transit " button appears in the search bar to easily filter results. Additionally, you can set a maximum commute time.
Zillow
Founded in 2006, Zillow is one of the most established brands for online real estate research, with data on more than 110 million homes. While the neighborhood displays are less detailed than that of Trulia, Zillow does have one unique strength. Typing in a neighborhoods zip code, the Zestimate tool provides an estimated price for rent, or purchase, of properties within the given area.
Search tip: In map view, you can draw the region that you want to search.
On-the-go: Both iOS app and the Android app have ratings of 4.5 stars.
Zumper
Zumper is known for its easy-to-digest rental market reports and deep knowledge of local rental markets. For apartment hunters, this translates to descriptions of city landmarks, weather, and culture when you enter a search location. Since neighborhood distinctions are difficult to discern for non-locals, Zumper also gives a breakdown of several neighborhoods that may interest the potential renter.
Zumper shows its local expertise in the search results, too: Map view allows you to select individual neighborhoods and clearly shows listing locations.
Search tip: Listings that went live within the last 24 hours are highlighted in pink.
On-the-go: The iOS app has a 4.5-star rating, and the Android app has 4.
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