ApartmentRatings.com: 'What The Neighbors Pay'

Apartment locator ApartmentRatings.com has introduced a new service it calls "What The Neighbors Pay." As co-founder and CEO Jeremy Bencken describes it, "It's not quite 'Zillow for renters.'" Regardless, it offers helpful pricing information, benchmarking individual apartment rates vs. averages in the area.

Bencken said in email that the service "allows users to find out what renters in over 270 MSA's nationwide report paying in rent. ApartmentRatings.com has collected over 400,000 tenant responses nationwide over the past six years and made them available to search at the metro, city, and apartment community level."

Here's an example of the pricing data for a building in the Berkeley, California area.

Even more valuable are the renter reviews on the site. Here's a set of results from my area, Oakland, California. One can sort by a number of criteria, including whether the unit is "recommended," by number of reviews and by point score. The point score or ranking is a composite of several criteria: parking, maintenance, constuction, noise, grounds and safety.

There's also a helpful map-based search tool that offers similar sort/refine capabilities from pull-down menus. Map search is especially practical and valuable in a real-estate context because fundamentally people what to see where homes and apartments are located, typically before moving on to other considerations.