How to apartment search in Portland?
October 7, 2015 4:51 PM   Subscribe

Lots of questions about where to live in Portland, but I need advice on how to look for housing in Portland. Craigslist, walking, something I don't know exists? Special snowflake details inside.

I moved to Portland 6 months ago and found a pretty nice apartment via a Craigslist ad, but I feel like this is maybe not the best way to look for housing here? I was prepared to hit the pavement, but got lucky after like a morning of internet searching. Now that I've got some life changes coming up (ex-now-current boyfriend moving down from Seattle, I work from home and he probably will too) we desperately will need more space than my cute single bachelor man one-bedroom provides.

Craigslist doesn't seem all that great here--what am I missing? How do people here find places to live? Please give me the lowdown. We'd love a house or townhouse and I know enough about Portland now that I'm definitely not looking for neighborhood advice--just the actual locating of places I might want to live. Maybe I'm not missing anything, I don't know--but it feels like I am. Thank you!
posted by Automocar to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by anonymisc at 4:52 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

You're not missing much; nothing's a great way to search here because there aren't many apartments to list. We've got one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country. Craigslist and anonymisc's suggestions Padmapper are probably your best bet, if you don't have a network here in town. Hitting the pavement and looking out for rentals that aren't advertised is pretty workable too.

If you have time to hunt, (like, months and months…and months) you can get on some of the larger rental companies wait-lists and they'll call you when something hits your criteria.

Everyone I know who rents anything remotely desirable has inherited their rental from a friend…its always been that way here to some degree or another, but its gotten worse as vacancy rates plummeted over the last couple years. There aren't enough rentals out there for as many people as are looking. Several Brooklynites I work with have commented on how its easier to find a rental in New York right now than it is here in PDX.
posted by furnace.heart at 5:19 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I assume you mean the Oregon one because the housing market is crazy. Craigslist is the best way but a couple tips:

In my experience, you need to call, not just email, or at a minimum include your phone number when you do email. Emails are easily ignored, and now thanks to Craigslists new email relay system, landlords can't even see your name. It's best to call so they can hear that you are not a crazy person when you leave a voicemail, and follow up with an email that includes a callback number. When I would be reaching out to like 10 places a day, I didn't call, but I did include my phone number and I included a very brief (1-2 sentence) bio of who I am. I think you are more likely to get a response if they feel like they know who you are.

I also think you need to move quickly. If you really think you want a place, consider putting down a deposit before you can even see it to be first in line. Otherwise, when you look at a place, be willing to sign the lease and submit a deposit immediately. Listings are taken down and places are rented pretty quickly, which is why is may seem like there's not a lot.

Because of the competition and high turnover, you need to be checking craigslist multiple times throughout the day. Once a day or every couple days means you are missing places that have come and gone.

I've moved a lot and I've never found anything on sites like PadMapper or whatever that I didn't find on Craiglist. Sometimes a property management company website would have some options, but I can't think of any time where I every found a place I wanted not on craigslist. In one city I just googled apartment complexes in a specific area and had my pick of those, but I doubt that will work in a market like Portland where there are the lowest vacancy rates like ever.

You just have to be diligent about searching on a regular basis so you don't miss anything. I recently moved in a very hot market and I caught the listing within an hour it was posted and I saw the place the next morning. Yet someone else submitted a deposit before me when they saw the listing online and beat me to it. I lucked out in that when the person finally got to see it in person, they didn't like it and I was next in line. But I was told they had a ton of people in line behind me. You just have to know what you want and be decisive.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:25 PM on October 7, 2015

I have found everywhere I have lived in Portland through Craigslist. You just gotta keep at it.
posted by aniola at 9:46 PM on October 7, 2015

Response by poster: For clarification: I moved from New York, so I'm not a stranger to a hot housing market (probably why I got my current place so easily.)
posted by Automocar at 8:18 AM on October 8, 2015

When I rented out my westside house in June, the ad was literally on Craigslist for only 10 minutes before I had to take it down because I was getting SO MANY EMAILS. You just have to run your search obsessively to see the good ones.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:02 AM on October 8, 2015

Maybe try I have noticed quite a few people asking about rentals on there, also have seen some listings for places that are for rent. And sometimes people mention that they will have a place for rent, just that it is not listed yet.

I helped some friends find a place here by just asking my FB network.

The rental market has really changed in the last few years here; good luck with your search.
posted by medeine at 1:30 PM on October 8, 2015

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