SAN FRANCISCO -- Owners and managers of rental properties who once feared posting detailed information on the Internet are now posting photos, floorplans and videos of vacant apartments on the Web to sign up tenants. "Today, the theme in the rental industry is embracing technology," said John Helm, founder and chief executive officer of MyNewPlace, a new Web site that helps landlords find tenants. Speaking Friday at Inman News' Real Estate Connect conference, Helm said that more than 70 percent of renters start their search on line. The owners of Avalon Bay, a 250-unit, high-rise development in San Francisco, are now finding about 40 percent of tenants signing new leases come to them from the Internet, compared with 10 percent through newspapers and other print media, Helm said. "Consumers can pre-qualify themselves," Helm said. "They've seen the floor plans, they know if they accept pets -- the close rates (on Internet listings) are three or four times higher." Helm said landlords' ...
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