There's little doubt that apartment-hunting can be a difficult, frustrating, time-consuming chore — but it's something that the internet can help with. Over the last decade or so, Craigslist emerged as a useful (if glacially evolving) tool for finding a new place to call home, but companies like Lovely are trying to take that experience further. Lovely already hosts a site that pulls in apartment data from more than two dozen data partners which lets you search in over 7,500 cities nationwide, and now it's rolling that experience out to iPhone users with a new app that will be available starting today.
At its core, the Lovely app works much like the website — the multi-sourced database lets users can search individual streets, neighborhoods, or cities for apartments based on some basic criteria including bedrooms, budget, and pet-friendliness. What makes the app particularly useful are alerts: once you've set up a Lovely account (or logged in with Facebook), you can save searches and get notified every time a new apartment that fits your criteria hits the market. The site already supported email notifications, but now you can get alerts sent right to your iPhone so you can act fast before your dream apartment gets snapped up. Of course, you can still save searches without setting alerts, and Lovely's integration with the iOS notification center means you can make the app as pestering or as silent as you want.
Like its website, Lovely for iPhone is lightweight, functional, and well-designed
The app also does a good job at integrating contact and map data in for listing. Assuming the info is available, users can easily email or call a realtor about a listing, or open it up in Maps for directions. On the down side, any notes you take on a property on the Lovely website are surprisingly not synced back to the phone. Other features like tracking an apartment's status (whether you've set up an appointment to visit, actually visited it, sent in an application, etc) and the "renter resume" remain out of the mobile version as well.
Despite these few omissions, Lovely for iPhone is a lightweight, functional, and well-designed app — much like the website. While we with the notes feature was included, the real killer feature here is the alert system, one that could help you get a jump on an apartment next time you're looking to move. Lovely is already one of several companies putting the pressure on Craigslist to start innovating more, and the new app should increase that pressure a bit more.