I currently live in an apartment complex. My lease ends in July and I'm already on the hunt for a cheaper place closer to where I work. I've been using those clunky apartment finder Web sites and they just don't do it for me. RentSocial says its here to make my life easier.
RentSocial is a brand new startup - its 87 likes on Facebook confirm that - that aims to make apartment hunting more like sharing where you've been on Facebook. It connects with your Facebook social graph to share places with friends and perhaps find potential roommates looking at the same property. It also has the standard amenities of current apartment Web sites by providing reviews and information on the property.
To test this out, I began to look for my current apartment within their system. RentSocial uses Google Maps to locate your current living arrangement, but unfortunately my property is not listed. Why is that? GigaOM says that RentSocial is "coming to market with eight of the top 10 property management companies in the U.S." My place is apparently not owned by one of those or is one of the two companies not listed yet. I did find four properties in Lexington, KY, however, and checked out one of the properties listed.
RentSocial lists all the relevant information that you would find on an apartment properties Web site with a list of amenities, price range, number of bedrooms and baths, etc. It also features the floor plans and office hours. As you can see though, this listing is kind of a ghost town. We'll chalk that up to not many people knowing about it yet.
People who already live at the property can leave a review of the place, share the apartment with friends, confirm that they live there and other things to make the process easier for others looking for a place to live. The "I live here" function is especially useful because anonymous reviews of apartments is the one thing I absolutely hate about apartment finder Web sites. Being able to attach a face to a review makes it much easier to sort out the real reviews from trolls that "zero bomb" apartment listings.
There's another side effect of listing your current residency at an apartment. Once the service grows, people will be able to see who lives at their apartment to, as GigaOM puts it, "develop a sense of community within a given building." As much as my apartment wants me to hang out with other people living there, I'm not going to hang out with strangers. Getting to know who they are online first makes that much easier.
As stated, the service is just beginning. There's not a lot of options yet especially for those people not in large Metropolitan markets. Once more people begin to use the service, it could be a fantastic alternative to the usual apartment finder Web sites that I loathe so much.