If you were searching for an apartment 10 years ago, it was a laborious, time-consuming process. You'd search classified newspaper ads, call management offices and hope to get a live person on the phone to answer questions, then drive from location to location to visit prospective dwellings, with no idea in advance what you may find.

Today, multifamily building owners and managers are increasingly capitalizing on advanced technologies—particularly the Internet—to reach prospective clients and make it easier for those clients to find them and evaluate their properties from their computers.

In this highly connected era, “many people make it their first step to go on a Web site before they have to interface over the phone with a salesperson whose primary goal isn't to supply information but to sell,” says Stephen Gordet, president and creative director for Stephen Gordet and Associates, a Miami advertising agency that works with rental property owners.

Casto Communities Management, which owns and manages more than 7,000 apartments in Ohio, says Internet advertising is cheaper than traditional options. “We look at cost per lease: If I can keep it between $150 and $250, that's a great price point,” says Jim Cunningham, executive vice president. “But Internet advertising is so inexpensive that the cost per lease is less than $100. You get the greatest bang for the buck through Internet advertising.”

Property owners and managers will continue to push more information out over the Internet, says David Cardwell, vice president of capital markets and technology for the National Multi Housing Council. “The consumer's movement to the Internet and cyberspace has redirected the multifamily housing industry consumer marketing efforts to the Internet as well,” he says.