Online options make finding affordable apartments easier than ever
Renting is on the rise in America. Vacancy rates are falling across the country, and increased competition for the best units has many would-be renters turning to the Internet for help finding affordable apartments
In fact, 70 percent of apartment hunters use listing websites like Craigslist or Oodle, 45 percent use search engines, and 32 percent check out review websites like ApartmentRatings.com, according to a recent poll by Apartments.com
. In contrast, less than a third (31 percent) rely on word of mouth for their apartment-hunting, and just slightly more than a quarter (26 percent) turn to their local newspaper, according to the poll.
Searching for listings isn't the only way in which renters are using the Internet to make finding an apartment easier. From using Google Maps to pinpoint the exact location of apartments to completing rental applications online, the Internet can help streamline your search for affordable apartments.
Completing a rental application online is gaining popularity and becoming increasingly available. Companies like Lincoln Property Company, which manages more than 130,000 apartments in 28 states and the District of Columbia, now allow potential renters to complete a rental application online. The service allows renters to visit an apartment and complete the application process at their leisure.
It's especially convenient for anyone relocating across the country - such as military personnel - who needs to secure an apartment before their official move. These applicants can check out an apartment online through Lincoln's searchable database of available properties, and then complete the online application to qualify for the apartment. They can even pay their application fees online.
Other ways renters are using the Internet to find and evaluate apartments for rent
* Comparing rents in an area - Websites like Rentometer.com and RentJungle.com can give you an idea of rents in an area you're interested in, and help you evaluate if a rent you're being offered is competitive with others in the area.
* Research best cities for renters - You can find plenty of information online about what cities offer the best rents, widest selection of available units and access to culture, entertainment and jobs.
* Taking a video tour - If you'll be moving across country, it may not be possible for you to visit an apartment in person before you'll need to sign a lease. Many leasing companies, landlords and real estate agents are using social media like YouTube and Facebook to provide renters with video tours of available apartments.
* Create a renter's checklist - A checklist can help you define what you're looking for in an apartment. Renters can find online resources that offer room-by-room checklists of desired features, from dishwashers and in-unit laundry facilities to easy access to public transportation and ample, secure parking.
* Weigh the pros and cons of renting versus buying - Many Americans are turning away from the idea that owning a home is the best living option. You can find plenty of online calculators that will help you assess the true costs of homeownership compared to the conveniences of renting.
As the poor housing market continues to boost interest in renting rather than owning, online resources are making it easier than ever to find affordable apartments.