Imagine it’s 1990. You need to find a place to rent in a hurry. Where do you start? Here’s a few options you might have had:
1. Open the phone book. Look under “property management” in the phone book and call all the property managers you can find in the area to see what they have for rent. But what about the properties that aren’t managed by a property management company; how do you find them?
2. Drive around town. Go looking for “For Rent” signs in yards, and calling each number to see how many bedrooms and bathrooms the house has, and how much they want for rent.
3. Ask around. Find out from friends or other acquaintances about rental properties.
Ultimately, you could still get the job done, but it took much longer. How would you know how many bedrooms and bathrooms a rental was without calling? How did you know what kind of condition the property was in before going to a viewing? How did you know if you were getting a fair rental price?
If you want to find a rental in 2013, all you have to do is flip open your iPad, Google “properties for rent in xxx” and in seconds you will have dozens available properties in front of your face to look at. Most of the details you want to know will be readily available too, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, rent, amenities, size and much more! All you have to do is narrow down the ones you are interested in, set up showings, and sing the rental agreement. No more spending hours searching and calling just to find rental prospects.
The Internet has changed the rental business in other ways as well. Let’s say you are a property owner with only a couple properties and are managing them yourself. There are dozens of websites out there that will let you list you rental for free (Craigslist, Facebook, etc) or for a small fee. For larger property managers, they are able to list their all their available rentals on their own website in real time, keeping potential clients up to date by the second.
Finding roommates is also much easier in the digital age. Put an ad on Facebook or Craigslist, or send out a tweet and you could be meeting with your new roommate within hours.
In addition to finding and listing rental properties on the Internet, people can often even fill out rental applications online, submit maintenance requests online or via email, and even pay their rent online without having to write a check or mail it in.
Yes the Internet has simplified the way we do rental business, but it has also caused a few headaches as well. Fraud and fake listings are commonplace on websites and listing sites. Go to a website like Craigslist and you are almost certain to see a rental property listed that looks too good to be true. If it does look too good, it probably is!
Overall, the effect of the Internet on the rental business has been positive. But don’t take our word for it. We’d like to hear what you have to say and how the Internet has helped you find a rental or get your rental rented!