App: Lovely & Lovely Pro

Platform: iOS, Android and Web

Cost: Free

Overview: Lovely is a stylish app designed to connect renters looking for vacant units with landlords, leasing agents and property managers.

Stats: Lovely was started in 2011 and processes 1.5 million listings nationwide every month. The iPhone app has over 125,000 downloads.

How it works: Lovely aggregates and displays the number of rental listings on a map of a user-selected area. Listings are pulled from the web (think Apartments.com or Rent.com) and can also be directly uploaded on Lovely Pro by landlords.

Landlords and property managers enter rental listings into Lovely Pro’s web-based interface. The interface allows for basic information on the unit (size, asking price, amenities, location, contact info), plus photos of the unit and complex. Property managers are able to include contact information to make listings personal. All Lovely listings require at least one photo, a major plus for renters and a good filter for questionable listings on the web.

Listings appear as blue, orange, grey and yellow circles on a map. The colors indicate the age of the listing, and the numbers indicate the number of listings in that area.  Clicking on the circle brings up a menu with the asking price, number of rooms and a snapshot either provided by the property manager or pulled from the web.

In addition to the listing service, renters can use Lovely to complete a rental application and credit check through Experian. Tenants can send this information directly to landlords for a $20 fee (paid to Lovely) per application sent. For landlords, it’s an easy way to prescreen interested applicants, without having to wait for an in-person interview.

LovelyPro’s other nifty perks for landlords include:

  • an organized interface to view rental applications;
  • direct advertising for new listings via alerts sent to users;
  • an online payment system, allowing landlords to charge renters through Lovely via Rentmatic (Lovely charges $3.95 per month for each unit paying rent through the system); and
  • a Yahoo! Answers style forum where property managers are able to ask questions to the landlord/property manager community on the site.

Lovely does have its drawbacks: sourced listings. Since it pulls listings from all over the web, renters risk running into listings that no longer exist. While there is a policing option where users are able to notify Lovely of bad listings, the risk is still there. For property managers, this serves as a potential turnoff to have legitimate listings alongside fakes.

Still, the aggregated listings make Lovely the useful tool it is and Lovely’s dating of listings acts as a solid workaround to this flaw.

first tuesday rating: 4 of 5 stars

For Renters:       www.livelovely.com

For Landlords:   //pro.livelovely.com/welcome