Website eases off-campus housing search

A new website, featuring off-campus housing went live on  Jan. 22 to help students find housing information in the Brookings community. The website is linked through MyState and the SDSU website.

Currently being funded by First Bank and Trust, the site has received over 17,000 page views since going live.  Students can personalize their off-campus housing search by choosing specific number of bedrooms and bathrooms and various other search options. In order to use the site, students need to develop a username and password and also provide an email. After creating the profile, students are able to browse the site and various housing options. The housing options include houses, apartments and townhouses. After finding a property, students can click on the landlord’s information and find a phone number or website. The website is smartphone and tablet compatible. 

“The goal is to make the students feel like that there is an option for them to help make their off campus rental choice,” said Doug Wermedal, associate vice president for student affairs. “The chief motivation is that we were providing a service that would be easy to use…and provide students with education to be off campus citizens.” 

Before the website was developed, students had to search for off-campus housing by searching Brookings publications or by hearing recommendation from friends. 

“[Next year] I am living in a house,” said sophomore biology/pre-physical therapy major Halle Halbkat. “I have connections to someone who lived there in the past. I liked it because it is close to campus. I was overwhelmed with the thought of trying to find somewhere to live.” 

“I think it [the website] will definitely help,” said sophomore mechanical engineering major Alex Rueschhoff.

The site not only features residences for rent, but roommate selection services, car pooling, furniture buying and trading, budget sheets, utilities contacts and in the future, landlord rating systems.

“The design and template, the look and feel, is a result of our software partner. Content was a group effort of the city, students, landlords, and student affairs,” Wermedal said.

The project, from the first meetings to the final product, took 18 months to complete. 

“I think it [the website] would be very beneficial for those who know what they want but not where they want to live,” Halbkat said. 

The website is a resource for students, but it is a way for landlords to advertise their properties. Landlords that presented their rental properties at the off-campus housing fair were asked to learn about the website. During winter break, property owners were building their online profile so students would have options to look at on the website after coming back from break.

“Brookings is filled with excellent and reputable landlords,” Wermedal said. “I believe this will tighten the relationship that the landlords have with the campus.”