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SPECIAL MILLENNIUM ISSUE / HOME & DESIGN | C NOTES:
So Cal at the Turn of the Century

www.splitlevel&jacuzzi.com

May 16, 1999|Sue McAllister

The days of renters anxiously scouring neighborhoods with ads and Thomas Bros. guides in hand may soon be over. Some rental property Web sites now offer "virtual tours" (primarily of ritzy digs in Marina del Rey and West Hollywood) in which you and your trusty mouse pan through an apartment. And, really, which renter-to-be wouldn't be wooed by pixilated living rooms, breakfast nooks and poolside patios?

Jed Katz, founder of Rent Net, a 4-year-old Web site (http://www.rent.net) that claims more than 2.5 million user-visits a month, says virtual apartment shopping is clearly the method of choice for renters relocating from across the country. His company photographs apartments, then loads the images onto the Web. "Waiting 60 seconds to have that virtual walk-through is a lot quicker than having to travel there," Katz says.

The virtual tour may increase already fierce competition for apartments. Gail Scott, property manager at Sunset Plaza Apartments above the Sunset Strip, stopped advertising on Rent Net when her ad generated too much interest, especially among far-flung--and none-too-serious--Web surfers. "Local people didn't even know we were on the Internet."

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