Apartment-hunting site helps Gainesville renters find homes

If you’ve ever had trouble searching for a Gainesville apartment, then a new website by Infinite Energy digital marketing manager and Santa Fe College student Mat Houchens might be just what you need to make your next move a little more smooth.

RentGainesvilleApartments.com is the result of frustration with other online property search sites. Houchens said that when he was looking for property for he and his fiance that he couldn’t narrow down what he wanted and where he wanted to live from any of the sites he visited.

“I said, ‘I can make something better than this,’ and she was like, ‘Well, then do it,’ and that’s kind of what I did,” Houchens said.

The site lets renters find Gainesville apartments based on desired features, amenities and location. Most apartment listings include detailed information such as floor plans, reviews and monthly rent and deposit costs. Users can even search exclusively for availability near UF or Santa Fe.

“I don’t like anyone to have to think, ‘Oh, what am I supposed to do?’ I kind of took what I saw was out there and thought, ‘What would I want and what would make the most sense to me,’” he said “So one of the things I wanted to do was make it easy to find whatever you were looking for, whether that’s pet-friendly, or if having a washer and dryer inside the unit makes the difference for you, or both, you can look at all of that.”

Houchens said that he also wanted to make it very easy for apartment hunters to take that next step of contacting the property managers, so each listing has a contact number on the top of the page and a convenient email form to find out more about the property or whether any of the desired units are available. Houchens said that the company also plans to monitor questions from users so that if they keep asking the same questions then the site can adapt to be even more user-friendly.

Houchens also talked to property managers to get insight on making the site a more effective tool for attracting new residents. The website is built to accomplish a two-part mission: to make it easier for people to find apartments in Gainesville and to make it more affordable for property managers to find tenants.

Houchens is offering free property listings for property managers for the first quarter of 2014. There are several factors that will influence the eventual fee structure, he said, including the results from this first quarter, but he doesn’t see even the largest complexes paying more than $500 a month for listings. The site will remain totally free for users.

“We’re seeing rapid progression in the search engine rankings,” he said. “By the end of the first quarter we expect to see enough leads to justify a cost to the properties.”

The site also links to other resources Gainesville apartment hunters may need, such as renters insurance, discount furniture options and other local businesses. Other upcoming features include a mobile site, comparison tools and more features for property managers.


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