Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chicago Reader Spacefinder

Perhaps even more basic than figuring out whether a potential apartment is walkable is finding a potential apartment. In my search I used probably fifty individual provider sites, only to find my final resting spot with a couple other alums from my liberal arts college. Apartment hunting, nonetheless, is one of my favorite things EVER-- and Chicago Reader's Spacefinder makes it easier than most.
One major complaint I had in the apartment hunting search is a lack of a consolidated Chicago search engine with consistent, easy-to-read listings. Part of this is due to the number of search features (and coded apartment amenities) each system will accommodate; part of it is due to what I find to be an annoying lack of image-based advertising for individual places.

(Footnote: One of these days a sharp-minded entrepreneur is going to get some decent camera equipment and start marketing internet image-advertising to property management companies for a decent price, and then that person's going to make all the money [while I sit around writing about other people's websites]. But no matter!)

The Reader Spacefinder is better than some not because it DOES feature a stellar search interface and consistent listings, but because enough of its listings do have photos, and because it is a popular place for property managers to cross-list available apartments. Many of the listings will direct you over to apartmentpeople.com, another tool I found appealing (mostly due to the neighborhood map information, which used to include average rent ranges, but no longer does because Life Sucks), and more still will direct you to individual property manager sites, many of which focus in a particular region of the city.

Personally, I love looking through listings by apartment manager-- I have too much fun just browsing and comparing what I find. But while most managers do not have highly developed search engines for their sites (or those engines are less useful due to a limited number of available apartments at a given time), many will list on Reader Spacefinder, again giving it more legitimacy than many search sites.

Any other favorite search engines for apartments in the area?

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