Creating a New Way to Search for NYC Apartments

Dream Home is a streamlined apartment hunting and application experience, while minimizing disappointing surprises.

Dream Home
UX / Product Design
App Concept, UI Guidelines, Design System


What is Dream Home?

Dream Home is an app designed for New York City residents that want to discover accurate listings, housing within their price range, and reliable property owners, without any disappointing surprises often associated with apartment hunting.

My Role

One of the biggest challenges of moving into or across New York is coordinating relocation with a new apartment, while handling different property management companies. Apartment listings online are the modern way of examining current options, however, many of these listings can have very limited information about the apartment itself, as well as how to tour and apply for the apartment.

My role was to evaluate current digital platforms that list rental properties and create a new concept for an improved experience.


The Research

I began by conducting light market research to put our target into perspective. The purpose was to evaluate the current digital platforms available and discover what strengths and weaknesses there could be.


  • What features are common across platforms?
  • What features are platform specific?
  • How does a user typically explore the platform?
  • Is the application process done through these platforms?
  • What areas can be improved or done differently?


Most apartment listing platforms and websites share a lot of common features. You can typically find generic information for an apartment, but specifics such as the building's management, as well as the apartment's history, are usually limited.

In addition, almost none of the popular apartment listing platforms offer a standardized process for either scheduling an in-person tour of the apartment, or applying to rent it. To do so typically requires coming in direct contact with the building's management.

The key takeaway is that these are areas that can be improved. By automating or standardizing a large portion of these processes, reducing the disconnect between apartment hunting and applying, as well as eliminating uncertainty in viewing these listings, the overall experience can improve. In addition, conversion focused on applying through the app can monetize based on processing fees.


Information Consolidation

A User Persona for a typical apartment hunter was created to evaluate old and new software features based on how well they would solve the user's pain points. From there, using the features recorded from the different platforms, a new set of standard features was consolidated for Dream Home. These were organized based on returning features from previous platforms, as well as new possible solutions through ideation.


Based on insights drawn from previous listing platforms, as well as the set of features, I created the user flow for how the user would theoretically travel through the app to conversion. Conversion is focused on ensuring the user has everything they need to decide to send an application for the apartment, which will include its own fees for submission.

A key function is offering suggested apartment listings before a dedicated search, based on preferences established during profile creation. These preferences can be changed and edited later on, or overridden by using a direct search through the search function. Fully 3D virtual tours can also help mitigate uncertainty and encourages users to either book an in-person tour, or apply.


After finalizing the user flow and final set of features for the app, my priorities were to implement the following solutions:
  • Minimize the amount of clicks necessary to view as many offerings as possible.
  • Offer options based on apartment preferences and their prioritization.
  • Guide and support the user through the application process on the app.

These sketches below served as a general wireframe template for the layout and hierarchy of information that can be published through the app.

A System For Style

It was important to give the app experience a similar style to other apartment listing platforms. While having it's own distinctive look and visual clarity is important to differentiate, it's also important to not stray too far from current standards. This way, new adoption will be easier and smoother.

I started with the Logo, general color choices, and worked my way up from there. Nailing down exact measurements and units for the app was necessary, to reduce redundancy and ensure that every individual listing can be filled easily without any further design input.


Ready for Prototyping & Testing

Overall, these can be seen as vast improvements over previous examples seen. While User Testing can verify and conclude success, there is a strong argument to make that a combined apartment listing / tour scheduling / application solution would be worth pursuing. Consolidating these features and systems into a single solution could prove to be invaluable. Likening to other digital solutions, such as online movie ticketing or food delivery services, people will willingly pay reasonable extra fees if it ensures convenience and ease of use.

In addition, improving transparency within the rental industry would be a tremendous step toward empowering tenants. While some landlords may see increased transparency as detrimental, honesty about the apartment and it's history, as well as management's capabilities in maintaining the property can further reduce tenant anxiety and ensure trust in property managers.

Final Thoughts

Screening Power is currently in favor of landlords. For landlords to adopt a model of increased transparency would require a growing tenant's favored market, those willing to pay premiums for increased assurances, or simply pressure from rapid app adoption & demand.

Saving application inputs may prove to be valuable to the user in speeding up the process. However, saving more sensitive information for the convenience of speed may pose a security risk.

Interested in working together? Get in touch today.