Because few experiences in life are as soul-wrenching as finding out that dreamy, cat-lovers-welcome, junior one-bedroom in Roslindale you saw online was leased like a month ago, stop trolling Craigslist for apartments (and generally, weirdo), and hit SocialRent: a just-released service built by a cadre of current BU students on winter break, which replaces apartment hunting with an easy-to-use five-step online tool that lets somebody else do all the pavement pounding.
Here's how it works: after entering your move in/move out dates and the type of abode (studio, apartment, house, houseboat, etc), link up all your potential roomies and activate the live chat; from there everyone can chime in using the interactive tools/ maps/ faux-blueprint-esque apartment designer to choose the neighborhood (Allston! Brighton! Allston-Brighton!), number/ size of rooms/ baths, and desirable amenities (laundry, parking, pet-friendly) before agreeing on how much everybody wants to pay in rent. Once you've all decided on "free", hit submit and SR's team of housing gurus'll get busy using their connections with local real estate agents to find that no-rent-needed houseboat, and even help coordinate viewing times.
While they're only finding housing in the Hub right now, SR plans to roll out nationally by partnering with agents across the country. They're also adding functions to let you securely pay rent online and find random roommates, among other tools -- as opposed to Craigslist, where you just sort of find other tools.