Most people don’t like apartment hunting – it’s tiring, frustrating, and time-consuming. It’s also stressful. Of course, progress has been made – apartment hunting in the twenty-first century is far easier than it was in hoary days of last century. Imagine apartment hunting in 1981 without the internet and cell phones. You’d have to use a newspaper to find listings, and then call the management office on a landline for information and an appointment. And without answering machine, keep on calling until someone picked up. It was a slow, coordination-heavy process. You’d needed maps and a detailed schedules when you headed out to meet landlords – and if you were running late, tough luck. You missed your chance.
These days, though, with online apartment listings, comprehensive neighborhood reviews, and Yelp and BBB reviews of management companies, making an informed apartment-renting decision has never been easier. Craigslist, Padmapper, Apartments.com, and a variety of other websites help you browse openings, and making or changing appointments on the run is a snap with smart phones. So, when My First Apartment was contacted by the makers of Lovely, the newest entry into the apartment-finding industry, I was a bit leery. After all, how much more helpful could another player in this field be?
Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. Lovely is a real improvement over the others in the field. The way it works is pretty simple: it’s an aggregator of other online apartment listings, plopped onto an interactive map, so that you can easily search by neighborhood. You can also apply filters to your search, such as price, number of bedrooms, and so forth. When talking to Blake Pierson, the co-founder and CEO of Lovely, my first question was how the company’s website and app were different from that of Padmapper or Domu, which provide similar services. Pierson pointed out that Lovely was more user-friendly (which I found to be true), and that the company’s website is seamlessly integrated with the company’s app (which was released just this week).
The advantages of the seamless integration are obvious: when you’re at home, you can log on via your computer and conduct searches, but when you’re roaming about trying to locate a place, you can consult your phone to remind yourself where to go, you can search for new listing in that neighborhood, and you can contact landlords easily. Also, as Pierson pointed out, most of the new apartment listings are posted in the morning on weekdays – when most apartment hunters are at work. If you have the app installed on your phone, you can set up alarms to let you know when a fresh listing in your desired neighborhood and price range has cropped up – and then you can call immediately to set up a viewing, so you’re first in line for the great new place you just found.
Another neat features of Lovely is the ability to create a “renter’s resume,” in which you type in all your information – your employment status, your pets, your desired move-in date, etc. You’re able to keep this information collected in one place, and you can easily email it directly to potential landlords, thus demonstrating your seriousness and organizational skills. Additionally, Lovely’s favorites tab is very intuitive and user friendly – and the company tells you when a listing is no longer available, so you don’t waste your time trying to contact someone who’s already rented out their place.
So, while the services Lovely provides aren’t all that different from its competitors, Lovely does it better – the website and app run more smoothly, they’re more intuitive, and the alarm feature is a brilliant idea. All-in-all, I can recommend that our readers give Lovely a shot – it’s the easiest-to-use apartment-finding website-and-app combo I’ve found.