It's a fact of life: At some point, you will have to move. Maybe you need more space; maybe you're relocating for a new job. But regardless of the reason, when you're looking for a new apartment, you can use all the help you can get.
You can opt to use a realtor—or you can make use of the tools you have in your very pocket. That's right, an apartment might just a few taps away. All you need is the right app. Thankfully, the Google Play Store has plenty of them. Here are five tools I think are best suited for apartment searching. Let's see what's in store for your next big move.
Note: This articles is also available as an image gallery.
1: Apartments.com Rental Search
Apartments.com is one of the most relied upon services for renters across the country. So it would only stand to reason its Rental Search app (Figure A) stands as one of the top entries in this field. With the Apartments.com Rental Search, you gain access to hundreds of thousands of listings, real-time availability and specials, and no scams. You can learn about the neighborhood of a prospective dwelling, view high-res photos, narrow your search criteria, contact properties immediately, save favorites, search using the plan commute feature, and much more.
And with Apartments.com, you can start your search on your computer and continue that search on the go. To get the most out of Apartments.com Rental Search, you do have to sign into an Apartments.com account. Both the account and the app are free.
Trulia (Figure B) does something really helpful—it curates homes/apartments into categories by feature. As soon as you open it, you'll see rentals collected in groups such as Homes with Hardwood Floors, Remodeled Kitchens, Lofts, New Listings, Open Homes, and Safe Neighborhoods. This makes it easy for you to search by your must-have criteria.
Find something you like, tap on it, and then tap REQUEST INFO. Simple. You can "favorite" or share a listing via the built-in Android sharing system. If you plan to use the favorites, you will have to sign into a Trulia account (which is free). Trulia also includes a notification system, which allows you to stay up to date on a listing. By signing into your Trulia account, you get quite a bit more information and features... so this is highly recommended.
3: Zillow Real Estate & Rentals
If you're looking for the app with the best interface, you can't go wrong with Zillow Real Estate & Rentals (Figure C). It offers an easy-to-use sidebar and a best-in-breed filtering system, so you can get quick access to the rentals that meet your needs. If you swipe right from the left edge, the sidebar appears (where you can access the sign in, recently viewed, and more). Swipe left from the right edge, and you'll find the massive collection of filters you can apply to listings.
You will not find an app that allows you to narrow your search criteria more specifically than Zillow. Once you find a listing that piques your interest, you can get a street view of the location, add notes, search nearby, contact the agent, and more.
RadPad (Figure D) does an outstanding job of making the search simple. It lets you apply a short list of standard filters (price, size, baths, pets, type) and even allows you to add your own specific tags to the search. Once you find a "pad" you like, you'll see plenty of information, including price, details, other RadPad users who've "liked" it, and what makes that pad "rad." The pad information also offers details about the lister and from the listing you can start a conversation with them.
RadPad offers a kitschy wizard that asks you questions about yourself (such as whether you have any rad kids or pets, or whether you're a smoker). A word of warning, once you find yourself within the wizard, you can't escape it...so complete it. This wizard does help fine-tune your searches and also gives listers a bit of information about you.
HotPads Apartments & Rentals (Figure E) has one of the simpler interfaces and includes plenty of filters, along with a quick-access legend to make sure you understand exactly what you're looking at. If you log in to a HodPads account, you can save searches, add favorites, and enjoy a recommended listings notification (based on your recent searches).
From within a listing, you can get all the necessary details, tap to call the lister, send an email to the lister, share the listing, add the listing as a favorite, and more. HotPads may not offer all the bells and whistles that some of the other apps provide, but its simple interface will make this app one of your favorites.
Close the deal
Apartment hunting doesn't have to be a nightmare. With the right app, that search can be as painless as possible. What are you waiting for? Install one of these apps and find your next domicile.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.