If you're moving to a new city or town, or to another state or to another country, and you need to find a rental home, the good news is that there are a lot of great online tools that can help make the task a lot easier. Hot Pads is an online search device that will allow you to determine your particular features, including price, size and location, and the ability to map the options.
Hot Pads Overview
First, it's important to note that Hot Pads is only available for those renters in the United States.
With that said, Hot Pads offers some great features that make finding a rental a lot easier than pounding the pavement or hunting through pages and pages on Craigslist.
Before you start selecting parameters, from the main page choose the state where you'll be moving to then zoom into the city or area you're considering. Once you've located the correct spot, you can then set your personal parameters.
If you just want to perform a simple and quick search, then from the main page, just enter information regarding price range, number of bedrooms and add any keywords that are important to you, such as "beach" or "garage". Just remember that the more keywords you use, the less options you'll have to choose from.
Use the zoom in tool to locate available apartments. Hover over the house or apartment icon for very quick info, such as cost and number of bedrooms. If you want more details, click the icon and a call-out box will appear with a picture (if available), price and size information, address and contact phone number plus a click-able link that will show more details in a separate box.
I like that the detailed information box appears next to the map and that you don't need to open up more tabs or windows which does away with all those extra browsers. Very nice feature.
For those of you who have more specifications, beside the "update" button at the top of the map is an "advanced" link that will take you to features not listed in the quick search tool.
If you need a space that allows pets, for instance, or care what kind of rental it is - apartment vs condo vs house, for instance - then you'll need to select options from the advanced form.
Here you can also select personal options to customize your search history, allowing you to remove those apartment you've already viewed or your favorite listings just to make your search that much easier.
You can also choose to look at the text and pictures in a list format. This preference is probably best if you've narrowed down the neighborhood enough or know exactly where you want to live before you start searching.
HotPads also has a free account sign-up that allows you to save searches and options and to return to view listings you've kept on file. Setting up an account also allows you to receive email alerts about new listings in your chosen area. A great feature that can save you a lot of time.
A really great feature that shows apartment rentals as colored dots, with the color indicating the price in comparison to surrounding rentals. For instance, a red dot indicates that that rental property is high compared to other rentals that would then be listed as green or blue. It's a great way to see, very quickly, how expensive neighborhoods are in comparison to other areas.
Add Custom Points
If you have places that you want to include in your search, you can add your points to the map. The search will then highlight all those rentals that surround that point so you can ensure an easy commute to work, school, the gym or your favorite coffee shop.