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apartment hunting in SF during boom times
May 22, 2012 7:56 PM   Subscribe

We're trying to find an apartment to rent in SF (1-2br in the Mission or Noe Valley) and it's difficult. Competition is intense (20+ candidates showing up to see a open houses). What kind of things can we do to stand out from the crowd during the entire process?
posted by mrunderhill to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have job titles with words like "engineer" or "executive" or "senior" in them. Bring copies of credit scores and bank statements with you - note: bank statement should include a balance of at least 6 months rent and credit should be good.

My former manager got his apartment in the mission by offering the landlord an extra $100/month. When they responded by saying "Well, we really are more interested in finding someone who will be reliable than make an extra few dollars a month", he offered to pay the first year's rent up front. One check for ~$30k later, he had the apartment.

The way you stand out is by making yourself look like a brightly lot sign that says, "Always pays on time and probably hires a cleaning service!he police will never come here to investigate this person!"
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:06 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with tylerkaraszewski but an additional approach is to try to make your application/email/anything resonate personally with the person showing the apartment. With my current apartment, I noticed the woman had "cats" in her email address, so I actually put the best pic of my cats in the application with a stupid note from them. I kind of cringe when I think about how shameless I was, but boy did it work.
posted by sfkiddo at 9:47 PM on May 22, 2012


I totally sympathize with you about this process. What I've found is that most people I know get their apartments through their personal network, rather then Craigslist ads. You're probably already doing this, but if not, ask around on facebook and tell EVERYONE that you're looking, especially older/richer people who have or know people who have investment properties.

Or, look around on the peninsula instead.
posted by tinymegalo at 10:58 PM on May 22, 2012


Individual appointments if you can make them, instead of open houses. My just recently ended latest round of apartment hunting included an open house where someone else showed up at the same time with a bottle of wine for the host. I knew I was in the presence of A Professional.
posted by w00bliette at 11:28 PM on May 22, 2012


My brother's winning strategy in Toronto: one partner begins filling out an application the second they step inside while the other views the place. Submit that application as soon as humanly possibly and have it on the top of the pile.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:12 AM on May 23, 2012


When I moved to SF during an earlier boom, I found the "rental resume" a useful prop - basically a packet with my entire rental history, plus letters of reference from 2-3 previous landlords about how awesome I was about paying rent on time, not throwing loud parties, respecting the property, etc. From there, I wrote spectacular cover letters with my rental applications - about how much I envisioned their property as my home, not just a place to live, etc. It can take a while, but you'll find something. Good luck.
posted by judith at 5:25 AM on May 23, 2012


A thousand new Facebook millionaires doesn't help. Rent in the Mission is up 16% in the first half of 2012 already.

Consider Bernal Heights. It's nice down there. In any case, I prefer being one of the last people to show up at an open house. With fewer people around, it's easier to give an impression of your personality.
posted by spanishbombs at 10:21 AM on May 23, 2012


I'm facing the same problem here after moving from NY. I have my act together with a rent resume, credit report and an entire packet all nicely put together, but I've been to open houses with 20+ people where a significant amount had their act together, too. Doesn't help that I have two cats.

Everyone is telling me it's a tough market right now. I'm reaching out to my (rather small) local network about availability, so if you have the opportunity to do so, reach out to everyone you know, even at work.

Good luck. May we both find apartments soon!
posted by vivzan at 12:39 PM on May 23, 2012


My family is in the property rental business in SF (sorry, we have no vacancies). The rental resume is very useful. Keep in mind that the rental business is pretty cyclical. End of May through the beginning of August are the busiest times. You may want to consider a sublet until later in the year when things slow down and good applicants are hard to come by.

But I also agree with spanishbombs - you need to be open to living in other neighborhoods if you're going to be successful in finding a place. Is there a specific need that requires you to live in the Mission, like access to a BART station? There are plenty of other neighborhoods that are close to stations. If you want to live there because it's the hip neighborhood du jour, you may want to consider that you could get tired of that pretty soon - living in a neighborhood that everyone else in the city uses as a playground gets old quick.
posted by echolalia67 at 7:30 AM on May 24, 2012


Oh, and send a "thank you" e-mail after you view the apartment if you're really interested. Every little bit helps.
posted by echolalia67 at 7:39 AM on May 24, 2012


Thanks for all the answers!
posted by mrunderhill at 2:43 PM on May 26, 2012


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