Differences Between Apartment Search Websites

With so many options, it can be confusing to find the best apartment website, but we break it down for you here. Apartment search websites not only have varying inventory, but also different specialties, brands, contact forms, and features. It’s best to look through at least 3 different apartment search websites, as well as individual property websites, to be sure you have conducted a comprehensive search.


This blog will look at the 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 washer and dryer.
  • All include a contact form and/or phone number for you

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General Differences

There are also noticeable differences between the apartment listing websites. Before we get into the specific differences by platform, you should understand the 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

Now let’s look at the specific differences. Many prospective renters find understanding these specific differences are very helpful –


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.

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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. Visiting all your options is the best way to help ensure a successful apartment search.

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