Expert says don't look for an apartment on or Zillow. Use these 3 places instead

shisu_ka/ShutterStock @ironbones/TikTok (Licensed)

‘Rents are going to be much higher’: Expert says don’t look for an apartment on or Zillow. Use these 4 places instead

'It'll be a little bit cheaper when you're dealing with a real person.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on Apr 19, 2024   Updated on Apr 20, 2024, 2:55 pm CDT

In most states, apartment prices are on the rise—and renters are feeling it.

Renters have complained about everything from skyrocketing prices to landlords finding more ways to charge them to rent their living space. For example, internet users have claimed that their landlords have raised their rents by anywhere from $100 or $500 to $800 per month. Others have said that their landlords no longer pay for things like basic repairs, and one user even claimed that they discovered their landlord was illegally overcharging them.

Given this, it’s no surprise that renters are on the hunt for a cheaper place to stay. Now, TikTok user Lowell (@ironbones) has gone viral after giving users advice on how to do just that.

In a clip with over 3.1 million views as of Friday, Lowell, who says he is a “real estate agent that focuses on multifamily housing,” advises against looking at sites like Zillow or for rent.

“That’s going to be where you’ll find all of the corporate-owned apartment complexes,” he says. “Usually what they’ve done is either they built it themselves, so their costs are already high, or they purchased it from someone else, so their costs are high, and rents are going to be much higher because they’re trying to make their investment back.”

Instead, Lowell offers three alternatives for those seeking a place to rent. First, he says to look at newspaper classifieds. Second, he suggests getting a list of available rentals from your local Chamber of Commerce. The final place to search through Craigslist, though he cautions against deals that might seem shady.

Why are all of these better than simply looking at apartment websites? According to Lowell, it’s because you’ll be more likely to be interfacing with a real person rather than a major corporation.

“Those [three] are going to be you dealing with a person who usually inherited a house, they’re renting it out, or someone renting out like a spare bedroom, so it’ll be a little bit cheaper when you’re dealing with a real person,” he details.

@ironbones #stitch with @Paige Ewald ♬ original sound – 𝐋𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥

In a follow-up video, Lowell says that he forgot to mention Facebook Marketplace, saying that it’s “another fantastic place to find places to rent that are cheaper than a corporate-owned housing complex.”

He also told viewers how to look for scams.

“The main thing to remember is do not ever pay for an application fee, especially if you haven’t seen the property in person,” he states. “Usually that’s the scam.”

“Some people were asking about how to make sure that the owner actually owns the property…There’s a lot of ways you can do it. They’re all more or less labor-intensive,” he continues. “The best way is, if the person can let you in and show you the property, likely they own it. Most scammers don’t go to that level.”

@ironbones Replying to @ੈ✩‧₊˚ ❤️‍🔥Scar ❤️‍🔥 ੈ✩‧₊˚ facebook marketplace is a great resource to find cheap places to rent, as are local facebook groups. Search your city name and then “rentals” to find groups that fit. #renting #apartments ♬ original sound – 𝐋𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥

In the comments section, other users shared additional rental tips.

“I went on Google maps and looked at the area I wanted to live and looked for apartments then looked at their websites. I found a place that only listed on their website,” said a user. “I saved like $500 on rent.”

“He forgot the best way. Drive around the area you want to live. Write down all the numbers on for rent signs. Call them. They also sometimes have little websites with cheap listings,” offered a second.

The Daily Dot reached out to Lowell via Instagram direct message.

Update 2:54pm CT, Apr. 20, 2024:

In an Instagram direct message exchange with the Daily Dot, Lowell offered some further thoughts on how one can find affordable housing.

“It’s important to know the market you’re in,” he wrote. “I always recommend people start looking 8 to 10 weeks before they actually plan on moving so they can jump on a deal that comes along. A lot of people will start looking the month before they are about to move which really messes them up.”

“You can choose 2/3 things in all housing: price, location, timeframe,” he added. “If you’re short on time and have to get in soon then you’re going to be stuck with either bad price or bad quality.”

While much of the discussion in the comments section was positive, Lowell commented on some of the things that users may have missed or not completely understood.

“A lot of people laughed at the newspaper suggestion or thought it was out of touch, but honestly there are sometimes older landlords or private landlords that don’t know where else to advertise who will put an ad in the paper before they mess with something online, and there’s hidden gems there,” he said. “I also saw people saying that there’s a lot of scams online, which is true, but looking at Craigslist or Facebook marketplace has the same likelihood of scammers as Zillow or Hotpads. As long as people aren’t paying money before they see the apartment in person their likelihood of being defrauded is much lower.”

“It’s a tough market out there and I can definitely commiserate with people looking for housing,” he stated. “I didn’t expect the video to get the traction it did but I hope it helps someone find somewhere not sh*tty to live.”

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*First Published: Apr 19, 2024, 10:00 am CDT