For a long time, hunting for an apartment has meant wading through cryptic yard signs, inscrutable classifieds and frustrating games of phone tag.
That’s finally changing.
Mobile-app start-ups, online real estate giants and even old-school local listing firms are gearing up to streamline the splintered business of apartment advertising, looking to make it more reliable for landlords and more user-friendly for tenants. They’re aiming to turn a huge business — 2.3 million households rent in Los Angeles and Orange counties — into a modern marketplace, and make finding a place to live a little easier.
For now, though, many apartment hunters still face challenges that are increasingly rare in the digital age. Consumers can comparison shop for hotel rooms, plane tickets, even houses online or through their smartphones, using data-rich websites to tap up-to-the-second data. But there’s no complete repository for the rental market.