Five tech tools every renter must use

- You’ve decided you need a new place to live, but the number of rental communities in metro Atlanta is overwhelming.  And, that’s not even considering the huge number of private rental homes available at any given time.

What’s the best way to approach the talk of finding the right rental home for you? Real estate expert John Adams is here with the answers:

Q:  Almost all of us have faced this challenge at one time or another in our lives.  Other than throwing a dart at a board, is there a smart way to find a great place to live?
 
Adams:  The answer is YES. And here’s why:

The home rental business has become extremely competitive, and that competition directly benefits you, the prospective renter. And because there are so many rental units available in a large metro area like Atlanta, technology is the logical way to tackle the challenge.

Q:  So what are we talking about here?
A:  There are FIVE websites, each with its own reasons I have added it to our list, that a renter can use to get a good grasp of what's out there and available for rent.

Q:  OK, what’s number 5?
A:  Number 5 is APARTMENTS.com.   

Claiming to have a current inventory of more than 25 thousand apartment homes in metro Atlanta, this site is a comprehensive, map-based way to begin your search for a new apartment.

Q:  How about number 4? 
A:  Number 4 is REALTOR.com RENTALS, the rental site by REALTOR.com.   

Because it’s backed by the REALTORS, it’s probably the safest site of the ones I’m giving you.  There’s no guarantee of validity, but most of these site are listed by licensed real estate professionals, and as a result, are more likely to be legitimate than those on a free site like Craigslist.  

That being said, the rentals on this site are likely to be more expensive than those on other site, simply because they are on the upper end of the spectrum. 

Q:  Got it.  Now, what is number 3 on our list?
A:  Number 3 on our countdown is ZUMPER.com.

ZUMPER  offers access to an inventory of more than 1 million rental listings, with instant alerts as residences that meet your needs come online. Zumper also partners with Experian to provide you with a free copy of your credit report to submit a rental application to a landlord securely through the app. 

Q:  Now we’re down to the top couple of sites we can use to find and compare available rentals.  What can you tell us about number 2? 
A:  This may be the most familiar site to our viewers, and it is CRAIGSLIST. Com.  This is the site that single-handedly ran the newspaper real estate classified sections out of business all over the United States.

Just a few years ago, the ONLY relevant rental advertising source in the Atlanta area was the major local newspaper, and technology simply passed them by. 

With the advent of CRAIGSLIST, apartment complexes and more importantly, single family landlords became able to list their homes for free, and then tap into a huge audience of prospective renters. 

That not only hasn’t changed, it’s simple gotten stronger as a comprehensive source for those looking for a new home to rent.

The one problem is the one we talked about in our last visit, and that is the problem of scam listings.  This is where the crook is trying to steal your money on a house or apartment they simply do not own or represent.

Q:  Is that a widespread problem?
A:  No, but it’s one you need to be aware of. CRAIGSLIST has no way to verify any of their posts, so a fraudulent listing can be posted anywhere and anytime. Statistics show that less than 2%  of the posts on this site are scams, but that should be enough to make you cautious.

Beyond that warning, CRAIGSLIST can be an extremely helpful source in finding your next rental home.  More than any other site, it is utilized by private owners.

Q:  So that brings us to number one on your list of helpful tech tools for renters.  What is it? 
A:  In my opinion, the top technology tool for prospective renters in Atlanta is now ZILLOW.com.

Recently, Zillow acquired rival TRULIA, and is now consolidating its position as a TOP provider of rental opportunities, both in Atlanta and across the country. 

ZILLOW has demonstrated an ability to grow faster and be more innovative than its competitors, not only nationally, but also here in the Atlanta area.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  The Atlanta rental market is too large and fast-moving to take on without help.  Look to these five technology tools to help you get a good grasp of what’s available.  In particular, both ZILLOW and CRAIGSLIST are extremely helpful to anyone looking for a new home to rent.  Don’t pass up these powerful tech tools. 

NEXT: How to spot a phony rental before you get scammed

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