After several months of apartment shopping in San Francisco, sifting through hundreds of ads on craigslist.org, separating the too-good-to-be-trues (they always are), from the junk (always posted in caps), and whittling it down to potential places in my price range (not much) – I’ve learned a few tricks. And because you are so lucky (and because most of you reading this live on the East Coast and are therefore not competition) I am going to share them with you.
Everyone knows Photoshop
These days it doesn’t take much to doctor a photo. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked into an apartment and felt my heart drop with disappointment. I imagine it’s like meeting someone from the internet for the first time. Ooh…you look … different from your pictures… But the polite you goes through the obligatory showing, nodding as the agent points out the scuzzy bathroom and the shoebox of a bedroom overlooking the auto body shop. Meanwhile you really want to just look her in the eye and say: Look, this just isn’t going to work out. You see, the apartment, well, it’s seen better days. It needs more love than I can give. Quite frankly, it’s never going to happen … But you take the rental application, fold it into your purse and say you’ll be in touch soon – all the while knowing deep down you’ll never call her again.
Everyone wants your money
Scam artists thrive online. It’s a good thing most of them are fairly retarded. You see yesterday I responded to an ad for a two bedroom apartment in SOMA. Everything about this woman’s reply seemed normal until I read: “It comes with two parking spaces. Did I mention that in the ad?” Immediately red flags shot up. If they didn’t for you – you don’t live in San Francisco. Because parking is always mentioned in a post. I continued reading. She asked me to sign up for a free credit report using a company she has trusted for years and to contact her afterward. Naturally I Googled this nonexistent company. It turned out to be a blog where you were to upload your social security number and other personal information. Silly woman. I use WordPress too…
Read the fine print
I was just about to hit reply to another ad last night when I scanned a sentence I had somehow missed earlier. Turns out the gentleman listing the apartment would continue living there as well. Just during the day. But the place was all ours in the evenings…Right. Another two bedroom apartment in Pac Heights had all of our requirements: hardwood floors, lots of light, ample street parking … but no kitchen. Honestly. I want to meet the people who wind up living here.
Beware of the bait and switch
Tonight after work I visited an apartment Emily saw earlier this morning. She emailed me a photo of the entrance way and I had been mentally unpacking all day. She seemed excited about the space and I couldn’t wait to see it. The agent showed me the apartment and I couldn’t help but wonder if Emily was losing her ability to reason. It looked nothing like what she described. Where were these huge bedrooms? Where were the closets? The apartment was designed for midgets. Let me qualify that. Midgets with no clothes. Then she told me the truth. Emily was shown another apartment earlier. A more expensive one out of our price range. Oops…
I am trying to just laugh all this off. Because I know deep down that our apartment is out there. We just haven’t found it yet. And all this searching will payoff big time. It has too. Because you’re all invited to the housewarming. Otherwise I am officially homeless in 29 days…