Differences Between The Most Popular Apartment Search Websites

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When you hear the term ‘Apartment Search Websites’, think Expedia but for apartments – one website where you can see all of the apartments in an area.

Apartment search websites not only have varying inventory, but also different specialties, brands, and features. This makes sense. When you search for a hotel, many people don’t just look at Expedia, but will also look at say Hotels.com, Travelocity, and Trivago.

The same concept applies to apartments.

In this blog, we will look at the commonalities and differences between these four major apartment websites – Apartments.com, Apartmentsguide.com, Zillow.com, Apartmentlist.com


Here are some commonalities between these major apartment listing websites:

  • All list apartments by zip code and/or by neighborhood
  • All list features available at each apartment such as whether a washer and dryer is available.
  • All include a contact form and/or phone number for you to get in touch with someone should you have questions or want to arrange a tour.

General Differences

  • Number of Results Shown – Just like you scour multiple hotel websites before booking, an apartment search is similar. Each website has different apartments so it’s best to check a few. Some websites may be more popular in certain markets compared to others. Find out what is popular in the city you are interested in.
  • Displays – You may find you prefer one display layout over another.
  • Layout of Amenities – Once you click on an apartment listing, the amenities layout will be different. Some are more image-focused while others are text-focused.
  • Number of Sub Brands – What many prospective renters fail to realize is that the large apartment listing services own multiple websites and brands. For example: Apartments.com owns apartmentfinder.com, apartmenthomeliving.com and forrent.com. So if you search on apartments.com, you will often cover inventory available on its other sites too. Similarly, Apartmentguide.com owns rent.com, rentals.com and lovely.com. Zillow.com owns trulia.com, hotpads.com and streeteasy.com (popular in NYC). This is great to know so you can use the main websites to frequently cover off inventory listed on the smaller sites as well.
  • Contact Form Questions – Each site will ask different questions in the contact form. Some have less; some have more.

Specific Differences


The main difference in this site is you get asked a series of questions before search results are displayed. These include:

  • How many bedrooms do you want?
  • What is your budget?
  • Where are you looking to move?
  • Any neighborhood in particular?
  • Where do you work or go to school?

You will need to fill out your name and contact information before the results are displayed. This is helpful but can also be tedious if you want immediate results. As the website started out on the West Coast, inventory in many East Coast markets may be less available, but they are growing.


Apartments.com allows you to search by city, zip and building. It focuses on ‘map-ability’. There is a polygon of the specific area you want to live in, so you can see what buildings are available. You also have a checkbox of different amenities to help you better filter out search results. Another way to filter out results is to choose the commute time option at the bottom of the map. There is also a big focus on mobile app technology to cater to today’s users.

Tip: You can find deals by going to a specific property on Apartments.com and reviewing the box of text that appears directly under the image gallery. It is here that buildings will put their offer (i.e. one month free and terms of the deal).


This is a powerful search website to help you find exactly what you want and is similar to Apartments.com. The basic difference is that Apartmentguide.com lists both the phone number and contact field from the main search results allowing you to make a call without having to view the listing. There is also a great display of photos and videos on the site.


This website is well known for house sales, but they also have apartment rentals. When compared to Apartments.com and ApartmentGuide, Zillow is an apartment website that has more houses for rent, condos for rent, and tends to have smaller size apartment buildings but you will also be able to find larger buildings for rent here. As mentioned earlier, Zillow also owns trulia.com, which is another good place to look for rental searches.

Now that you know the fundamental differences between the major listing websites, you will be able to conduct a smarter apartment rental search.

Don’t forget to visit apartment community websites directly. These direct websites typically provide significantly more information on the building (as its an entire website dedicated to the listing) as well as sometimes helpful videos and photos, and possibly even exclusive deals (just like when you visit hotel websites directly). Visiting all your options is the best way to help ensure a successful apartment search.

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