In consumer fantasy-land, providers actually compete for your dollar -- a concept Lending Tree once used to secure loan-seekers the best terms, and now uses to secure them the politest torrents of mockery. Giving apartment-hunting power to the renter, just-launched ApartmentBids.com.
From two Chi guys (ex-corporate lawyer; former real estate finance i-banker), AB's a free service that allows users to select desired pads from an ever-growing bevy of properties, after which property managers will submit bids that, ideally, are at worst attractive, and at best desperate. Profile up by selecting apt size, move-in date, importance of location/price/size/quality/pet friendliness, and up to 30 desired amenities (roof deck, pool, parking, stainless steel appliances, etc); for more specific desires, type them in, because that bidet isn't going to put itself in the pull-down. You're then shot appropriate, fully fleshed out listings, replete with price ranges, general summary, building facts (lease terms, included utilities, security deposit, etc), a "Top Five Reasons to Live Here" box ("Views", "Wireless Cafe"...), photos, floorplans, and a "Conveniences" Gmap w/ local amenities; pick your faves, and their property managers'll e-seduce you with unlisted inducements, from lower rates, to a free first month, to a "top sixth reason to live here".
Additionally, secure a pad through AB, and they'll give you a free "bonus" that might be sports tix, a resto gift certificate, or up to $100 cash, which you can blow buying chicks drinks in your new neighborhood bar, in order to see who can provide the politest torrent of mockery.