‘If This, Then That’: How To Turbocharge Your Online Apartment Hunt With Ifttt

Apartment Hunt IftttThe internet can be both a blessing and a curse for an apartment hunter. It means no more digging through thick Sunday papers or wandering aimlessly around neighborhoods, as notifications are sent straight to our pockets and purses, to be sorted through later.

With how easy it is to post an apartment or rental listing straight to the internet, a lot of apartment vacancies never make their way to official channels like newspaper listings or rental companies. Everybody knows places like Craigslist, Facebook groups, even Twitter or Reddit are how you find the best, most affordable, most coveted apartment listings. Which means you have to monitor those feeds, which can be a full-time job unto itself.

Ifttt.com removes the need to be stapled to your computer or mobile to keep up-to-date with all the apartment listings in a designated area, which can be manipulated in a variety of ways. Ifttt.com makes sorting, filtering, and sharing your apartment searches easier than ever before, making it an essential resource for digital apartment hunters and teams of roommates looking to collaborate on the house hunt.

Learning to use Ifttt effectively is like having your own mission control, full-time realtor, accountants, research assistant, and file sorter, working for you. It’s also like having telepathy, and insanely good luck, as you get the spring on less tech-savvy apartment hunters.

What is Ifttt.com?

Ifttt.com is a very simple but utterly indispensable free app/web service. Ifttt stands for “If This, Then This”, which is an easy way to understand how it works. Ifttt (rhymes with “gift”) works with strings of commands for popular websites like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist, and Instagram. These chains are known as “recipes”.

An example of a recipe might be “If someone tweets the tags #apartmenthunting #Boston” then send that tweet to a Google Spreadsheet.”

You begin to see the possibilities for finding specialized, localized listings and storing them in one place. You won’t believe how much this can help your apartment hunt stay streamlined and organized.

4 Useful Ifttt Recipes For Finding The Perfect Apartment

1. Get Notified Of New Craigslist Posts Via Email: This is probably the simplest and most iconic Ifttt recipe, which makes it a great place to start, to begin exploring the wealth of possibilities this site brings. Its premise is simple – when someone posts a particular search term to a specified Craigslist address. Whether you’re looking for a two-bedroom walk-up, or a sunny studio, custom search threads let you specify your needs, and have all pertinent results sent straight to your inbox. If you need faster results, this recipe sends those results to a SMS Text, giving you an automated text-messaged apartment hunting feed, as described in this post from the website MakeUseOf.com.

2. Log Craigs List Results To Spreadsheet For Later Review: Anyone who’s spent any time cruising Craigslist for apartment listings can tell you – it gets pretty overwhelming, pretty fast, particularly when you live in a busy urban area. When my girlfriend and I were apartment hunting in Portland, I set the first Ifttt recipe to send me an e-mail anytime any apartment, anywhere, opened up in the Portland area (we were pretty desperate). It didn’t take long (about ten minutes) when the first two pages of my Inbox were overflowing with shared housing, new condos, trailers for rent, making the need for further filtering immediately obvious.

Sending your Craigslist results to a spreadsheet makes filtering a breeze. It’s easy to search by area, by price range, by pet availability. Ifttt itself can be modified for whatever search terms you need, but doing it on a spreadsheet is slightly less complicated than using Ifttt, which can be like writing computer code when you’re not used to it.

3. If a condo opens up in a specific address, then add it to my Apartment Hunting spreadsheet: What do you do when you find that perfect place, and it’s all full up? Every once in a while, we find the perfect apartment, and we simply cannot live anywhere else. Getting into an exclusive address can be difficult, at the best of times, and nearly impossible in competitive rental areas like NYC, Boston, or San Francisco. This recipe is another simple, but essential, tool for any apartment hunter set on moving into a particular building. It merely sends an alert when an apartment opens up at a particular address to a spreadsheet. For certain addresses, you could be waiting a while for the first alert.

The efficacy of this simple result becomes obvious when you find a handful of addresses that suit your needs. Set up a separate alert for each address, and consolidate them to one spreadsheet. Or maybe make separate sheets for different areas. After a couple of days, you’ve got a fully-searchable database of apartment vacancies in locations you hand-picked yourself. No realtor can do that for you, and you don’t have to wait by the computer, endlessly refreshing the apartment listings like some dejected lover.

4. Feed apartment listings directly to a Slack channel: Do some of your apartment hunting team work during the day? Or maybe you’re just all over town, and you’d like a chance to talk to multiple people at a time. Slack is a popular, real-time messaging system that is used by a lot of businesses, as well as high-tech individuals. If some of your potential roommates are working at an office, feeding apartment search results directly into a Slack channel is a way to chat with them during the day, to get their opinion or enlist their aid. One example of how this could be useful would be to have the remote workers in your posse monitor listings in a Slack channel, and handle the written messaging.

My girlfriend and I did something similar, when I was working at home during our apartment search. She tends to keep the phone with her during the day, so I would monitor the listings during the day, and send her text messages, using a free online SMS messaging program, asking her to stop by a particular address or call someone, if time was pressing.

What are some of your favorite recipes? Anyone seen Ifttt used in a particularly innovative way? Let us know in the comments!

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Author My First Apartment
J Simpson

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J. Simpson is a prolific freelance writer, blogger, and musician, based out of Portland, Or. He is fascinated with every aspect of modern living, and how to make the best of it, frequently writing about business, technology, and spirituality, as well as every aspect of culture - music, art, literature, cinema, TV, and comics. For more from J., follow him on Twitter at @for3stpunk.

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