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New site to aid in housing search

Liz O'Donnell | Thursday, February 18, 2010

Students looking to move off campus now have a University-sponsored Web site to utilize while conducting their search for housing.

With the launch of the new Web site, rent.nd.edu, Notre Dame students have access to listings of local houses and apartments for rent.

Joey Rich, one of the developers of the Web site, said the site aims to put different off-campus housing options online.

“The basic idea we’re trying to do is put all the different housing options into an easy to use Web interface,” he said. “That way students can use one Web site instead of using different housing providers.”

The effort was coordinated in part with student government. Student body president Grant Schmidt said the idea for the Web site came up over a year ago from two different sources.
“Northwestern University already had the concept,” he said. “It also came up in the campaign from one of the other tickets, so [student body vice president Cynthia Weber] and I acknowledged it and decided to implement it.”

Rich said he spoke with Weber and Schmidt about the project last year and began work on the Web site. He said this year the project seemed even more important so he began to work on it as part of a class assignment.

“This year we decided it was valuable to students and I decided working on it as part of a database complexes class,” he said. “After the class was over, I continued working on it, adding new features and getting the domain name set up.”

One of the advantages of the new Web site is that it allows students to compare prices in one location.

“By putting prices and other features in one location it encourages competition among different housing complexes whereas previously students would have to call regular housing complexes,” Rich said.

Another new feature allows students who create accounts withtheir nd.edu e-mail accounts to making listings and refer their friends to the site.

Schmidt said the Web site is also equipped with different objective sections where apartments in the same complex can be listed under the same tab.

“For example Irish Row can create a listing and after everyone can just leave feedback about the complex,” he said. “Ideally we want people to rate and create on the individual apartment and complex as a whole.”

Schmidt said two exceptions to this are Legacy Village and Irish Crossings, where there are different types of units available.

Unlike other Web sites students can use to view potential rental properties online, the new site is University sponsored. Rich said this helps because the whole student body views the same information.

“The interface is easy to use and not too hard for people to figure out,” he said. “You can upload images easily and direct your friends to the Web site too,” Rich said.

Schmidt said since the Web site doesn’t have all the comment features the way ndtoday.com has, but still allows for students to give feedback about landlord quality and other tenant considerations.