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Daily iPhone App: Lovely is real estate searching made easier

I've been apartment hunting lately (I want a little bigger place, with the option to finally get myself a dog), and here in LA, it's not an easy thing to do. Craigslist is usually the listings tool of choice, but it's so gummed with spam and vague listings here that it can be hard, especially when (like me) you're trying to be a little picky. And while there are a few subscription-based services around, I'm not really interested in paying a subscription to people who should be lusting after me and my perfect credit rating and dependable rent checks anyway.

I hadn't really considered using my iPhone in the search, but when a friend linked me an apartment listed on Lovely, I figured the app would probably be worth a shot. And I'm glad I gave it one: Lovely is, so far, the most useful free tool I've come across. There's a full web interface, but the app is also very simple and intuitive -- it's quick, responsive and very clear.

I particularly like the way pictures and maps are implemented; on Craigslist, the maps link is essentially an afterthought, but on Lovely, that information is put front and center, and loads up fast and clean, even on my iPhone's 4G while out and about. I am not quite sure how the Lovely listings are moderated (I know some of them do come from Craigslist, and you can filter in the app for listings with or without pictures, but it's not clear just which listings make it through or not, or exactly what all of their sources are). However it all works, though, I've found quite a few great places on the few days I've been watching the app, and I'm hoping that sooner or later here I'll find the place I'm looking for.

Perhaps I shouldn't recommend an app like this until I've actually found a place, but Lovely (available on the App Store now) is worth considering no matter what part of the relocation stage you happen to be in. I should also say that I'm looking in Los Angeles, where the community is relatively tech-savvy and the listings are plentiful, so if you're in a less populated or less tech-friendly area, Lovely might not work so well for you. And finally, there's no iPad interface, unfortunately, though I have to presume that's in the works. If you're setting out on an apartment search, or haven't found a good tool yet, give Lovely a shot for sure.

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