Why apartment search sites should be more like Tinder

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Analogies between romance and real estate are as old as time, and for good reason: What two things affect your life more drastically than your housing situation and your love life? And if you've ever found yourself shopping for apartments and dates at the same time, you'll notice some (occasionally unsettling) similarities between the two processes. The advice works both ways:

"When you find the one, you just KNOW."

"Know your dealbreakers and pay attention to red flags."

"Size matters!"

One thing that's not so similar: The "platforms" set up to you find your dream home versus your dream date. Though new startups launch seemingly every day to help us muddle through the apartment hunt and the, um, human hunt, as a rule, matchmaking apps are way more on top of their game than real estate ones. This in mind, we humbly suggest a few ways in which rental search sites should be taking cues from Tinder. (We'll waive the consulting fee this time around.)

1. Rejection is final

Our hands-down biggest wish: Anyone who's ever looked for an apartment has undoubtedly been barraged with 20 different versions of the same listing, or nixed an apartment only to have it crop up as a "recommended" option over and over again. On Tinder, once you swipe left, that person may as well have never been born. (That is, unless you buy the premium version, which allows you to backtrack on hastily-doled-out vetoes.) But with exception of Padmapper—which does let you "hide" apartments on their map that don't interest you—no site we've come across offers anything like this. Instead, you're faced with the nigh-impossible task of keeping track of whether you've already looked at and ruled out a potential apartment, and why it may or may not work. It doesn't have to be this way.

2. Pics or it didn't happen

Need we say more? While most legit apartment listings do include photos, you shouldn't be able to even post an apartment at all if there aren't photos attached. No one's trying to get catfished here.

3. You can grill your mutual friends

This last item is a mixed bag, but hear us out: No one likes being forced to link up their Facebook profile just to join a particular service. But what if listings apps had access to your contact list, and therefore could show you which of your friends live nearby a given apartment? (The real estate equivalent of seeing your "connections" on Tinder.) You could get a sense of how many people you know do (or don't) live in a given area, and ask them for info about the quality of the neighborhood. Think of all the time you'd save not having to schlep to viewings at places that turn out to be totally inconvenient to the subway, or several subway stops away from any of your social circle! And all the extra time you'd have to mindlessly swipe through dating profiles, instead.


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