The Best And The Worst Of Housing Rental WebsitesWith so many people now in the market for rentals, it is no wonder that it can be difficult to know the going rates in your area. With the current fluctuations in the housing market and so many foreclosures, home prices are the most unstable than they have ever been in history. That makes rental prices even more volatile as supply and demand can quickly inflate rental prices.

Now that so many investors have bought up foreclosed properties, the supply side of the equation has been met. With the increase of properties available for rent, so has been the increase of websites where you can search for rentals. Over the past week, I took the time to contact three of these websites and also call them with questions. Taking into account the demeanor of the people I spoke with and the response time from each, I have been able to compile a list of some of the best (and worst) housing rental websites out there.

RentersPages.com

RentersPages.com has to go at the top of my list. They are owned by Rhino Media Group and also have a Renters Pages publication that is distributed through newsstands in Canada. They showcase rental properties in both Canada and the United States which make them one of the largest and most divers rental websites. What sets them apart from the others is that it was just like using Realtor.com except for rentals. You can search for apartments, townhouses, view floor plans, and see 360 degree views of rooms and more. The site is extremely easy to use. RentersPages.com lets you find an apartment by searching for one directly after browsing based on geographic area. To perform a search, select the United States or Canada, then a state or province, respectively. You must then select a rental type (such as apartment, townhouses or lofts), as well as at least one unit size. Also, if you wish, you may select a city to further refine your results, adjust the rent range fields, and click boxes to indicate you're looking for a furnished and/or luxury rental. Finally, select to view your upcoming search results in a list or on a map, as you prefer, then click the yellow "Search" button and browse the results.

Rentals.com

Rentals.com should be last on my list, but they do have a pretty good search return for properties. The issue that I have is that the website is full of paid advertising. Google Adsense and other advertisements fill the pages with so much clutter that it can often be difficult to tell if you are looking at a true search return or an apartment that an advertiser paid good money to have put in front of you. They are owned by ApartmentGuide.com which is a conglomerate of websites dealing with housing so it is easy to tell why they are filled with so many ads. The website generates more from advertising revenue than they do from listing fees. I would use the site if you want to find something local, but beware of the search results. Finally, you will want to call if you need service as emails are extremely slow to be answered.

Rental Compare:

RentalCompare.com is the final site that I used. It is more of a meta-search engine as opposed to its own rental website. It searches numerous other rental websites such as apartments.com, rent.com, and Craigslist and returns the results for those sites. While this idea works great in the vacation industry (Travelzoo, etc.), it was kind of a nightmare when trying to find a rental property. While it did return good results, you still had to navigate away from RentCompare.com in order to look closer at a specific apartment. They earn their money through affiliate marketing (referring customers to these websites) so do not expect to get customer service. They have an email button and a “report a problem” button but you cannot find a telephone number if it was metal and you had a magnet.

Tracy  Eddelton is a regulary contributor in the field of real estate. She has worked as a realtor in both the United States and Canada and has a wealth of experience to share about the industry.