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Plead HN: Build a functional apartment finding website.
42 points by photon_off on Nov 5, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments
Make me a website that does the following and I promise you unbound riches:

- To select an area: Allow me to draw a region on a map. No dropdown of giant arbitrary areas. No checkboxes of giant arbitrary areas. No keyword search to determine area. Just let me draw a region. Even a rectangle will do.

- To select a price: Allow me to enter a price range easily. Not a dropdown with $500 price chunks. Not textboxes where I need to type in numbers. Just give me a slider with $100 increments.

- To view the results: Show me the results. Optionally, let me sort and filter. Bonus points for showing number of results that have each characteristic (eg: doorman (5), outdoor space (15), etc). Do not make me provide an email address to see results.

- Show me, within a block, where the listing is. I am planning on living there.

- To trust you: Not 100% uppercase. Not as if every listing is the best listing on the planet. No exclamation points, asterisks, triangles, trapezoids, or polygons of any sort.

- The big one: Have up to date listings. I don't know how you will do this, but if you do it, you'll be rich.

Hipmunk for apartments. Somebody get on this. PLEASE.

UI is the easy part. The listings that are accurate, honest and up to date are hard. Do you want to become a real estate company as well, hire your own agents, pick up the phones, take customers for the visits and so on? Or you need to provide a service that these companies (and some landlords, perhaps) want to use, in the right way.

Why would they give you out the exact address? A competing real estate company (not one, three, more) would immediately contact the landlord and offer him a better deal. Why would you list the price correctly, if you can hide some additional fees in the comment, stay 'technically' correct and look more attractive in the search?

I work on a service like this, we are quite rich (well, as a company, I'm just an employee), but we really can't do what you want. I'd like to, I don't like to use the service much, it's not bad itself, but it doesn't help you from dealing with the real estate agents and if I say that they are all liars and frauds, I'm not exaggerating at all.

(But we're in eastern Europe, things are perhaps different in America.)

What you describe sounds like an industry based on a pre-internet business model, waiting to be disrupted.

Here are some sites that have some similarity to what you described:




How is Padmapper able to list Craigslist properties without getting banned?

Also http://mapitat.com/ - lacks the ability to draw a polygon about the area you want to live in, which would be pretty killer.

awesome site

http://www.apartmentlist.com has most of those features. Plus it adds a recommender to help you sort through your search. It doesn't scrape Craigslist so the quality of the apartments is really high, and it still has 1.9 million of them.

It just launched in September, so expect to see more of those features you are looking for to go live soon.

Was just checking out apartmentlist.com for the first time:

"We need you to connect with Facebook so we can work our magic."

Why in the world...?

There is nothing that can force landlords who are too technophobic or just too lazy to post relevant photos, an exact address, and complete information to change their ways. Ver 2.0 of the apartment hunt may be coming, but not until Gen 2.0 are managing buildings.

RentHop (YC S09) has most of these features, especially the one allowing you to draw the region on a map. The caveat is that they only serve the New York City market. http://www.renthop.com/

So does HotPads: the lasso below the zoom widget. http://hotpads.com/

> Just let me draw a region.

> Not textboxes where I need to type in numbers. Just give me a slider with $100 increments.

You insist on specificity in one place, and you reject it in another place.

Your requirements aren't consistent.

Hotpads is pretty great. It has a lasso tool, and a more powerful price selection tool (the text fields). I suggest giving it another look. If it isn't quite up to par, Hotpads would be quicker in delivering what you want than a newcomer. I don't buy that Hotpads just doesn't get it.

I cannot be consistent with apples to oranges. If I required a specificity of 10 feet in my region selection, what then would be the "consistent" specificity of the rent slider? $1, $10, $100?

Also, inconsistent requirements != inconsistent UI.

Yeah, I think your specs are pretty good, and there's no universal level of specificity, just what makes sense where. I wrote PadMapper - is there anything you'd like to see improved? Noted on the polygons.

Nothing says you need to pick a single amount of specificity and then apply it everywhere. Sounds to me like he cares more about precisely where he lives than precisely what he pays, which is pretty sensible.

There's a site like that for Japan, unfortunately only in Japanese though:


You select a price range & other conditions, and a spot on the map with a radius, and it shows you all places that fit those requirements in that area. Very simple, very useful.

Sounds exactly like Globrix: http://www.globrix.com/

I'd also checkout http://www.rentenna.com/

My company has been working on this since June. Email me.


Sorry, I just don't see this as a big need. I mean looking for an apartment at the going rate is inconvenient, but I just don't see why the startup ecosystem should support yet another variant on this.

Here's my algorithm for looking for an apartment.

1) If I want to rent in a major, professionally managed building, just take one weekend and drive around the area I would like to live in. Honestly, it's old fashioned, but you're going to need to do this at some point.

2) If I am interested in renting from a small scale landlord or just renting a room then I use CL (and so apparently do all the startups in this space).

The apartment market is pretty darned efficient. If you think you've got a bargain, just wait. Maybe it will be mold, or noisy plumbing or bad neighbors, but whatever it is a problem will arise that will teach you just how efficient markets can be.

I just don't see the need for yet another apartment search site. Would it be nice? Sure. But would it solve a major pressing pain point? At least not for me and probably not for enough people that the business can get paid by users or advertisers and create a sustainable business model.

Now I do think the way we rent is fundamentally broken, but that's a business model problem that needs to address a broad set of pain points of renters and landlords.

For example, I think there are a lot of people in this economy who should be renting rooms out, but aren't (e.g. if you're unemployed and relying on my tax dollars to fund you AND you have a 4 bedroom house in a large MSA - maybe look into getting rid of some of your junk and monetizing your square footage).

Now if you're still reading this, you're probably coming up with a lot of reasons why someone just can't rent some of the excess square footage in their house. Now come up with a business model that honestly addresses all those reasons, then execute that model. Then get rich. Thanks.

some potential solutions: better screening of applicants, semi-co-housing like solutions, helping homeowners move out of unnecessarily large homes and downsizing to smaller residences while renting out their former residences (could be useful for retirees who aren't willing to sell in this market, but want to downsize), help families set up au pair arrangements where part of the rent is paid for in services (this could alleviate the concerns of families with children who want to rent out a room, but are worried because they have kids). Bottom line - Americans have WAY too much square footage plus there's an emerging trend toward more minimalistic downsized lifestyles both for economic and cultural reasons. I don't know of any business that is helping people monetize their square footage.

If you've got any ideas+skills contact me and maybe I can help you raise some money.

try newpad.ca (in Canada)

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