That’s all the time it took for my new landlords to rent their condo. In those five minutes, not only did I contact them, but they also had six other inquires about their home. How did they do it?
The days of sitting down with the Sunday paper to browse for a new place to live are over. The Internet is now an extremely powerful tool to help people search for a new place to call home.
Personally, I’ve found my last three apartments online. With everything right at my fingertips it’s easy to search and sort through hundreds of listings, view pictures, take virtual tours and contact someone for more information all within minutes.
I planned on starting my search for my new Arlington condo the same way. This time around I’d have a roommate, and we both had our own top 3 “Must Haves” for our new place. I wanted my own bathroom, a gym and a parking spot. He wanted a place close to the metro, a gas range (I’ve quickly learned having a great cook as a roomie is AWESOME), and it had to allowed pets (see below for a picture of our incredibly awesome pup – Nattie).
And so the search began…
My “go to” search is Craigslist.org. It’s like the Twitter of apartment searches. Listings are constantly being added and posts from a week ago are ancient history. As I started to search, I became hooked. I’d check Craigslist every ten to fifteen minutes for new posts…I couldn’t bear to think I might miss out on a potentially amazing apartment. I had to be “in the know.”
But just like Twitter, everything you read is not always as it seems.
I looked at listings that boasted of the apartment’s hardwood floors and gorgeous city views. The post’s professional photographs made me feel like I was turning the pages of House Beautiful. The price seemed too good to be true and the landlord called back right away to set up a viewing.
Then I’d arrive at the apartment.
The hardwood floors were old and splintered. The city views were of a back alley, complete with a gathering of the local homeless shifting through the dumpster by the master bedroom window. The Landlord admits the pictures might be a “bit outdated” and tells me the rent actually has some “extra” fees and an outrageous security deposit, but the place is a real “steal” for the location.
Weeks of this went on and time was running out – I was starting my new job in a week and still had no place to live. We had found nothing but dead ends, disappointments, no pets, no parking and nothing but electric ranges. I started to feel like our perfect condo didn’t exist.
One Last Look…
Then, that Friday evening, I decided to break from packing up my apartment – I couldn’t fight my urge to check Craigslist one last time before going out. And to my delight a new listing had just been posted three minutes prior. I read the listing almost in disbelief…it was …the PERFECT CONDO. Two bedrooms, two bath, located two blocks from the metro. It had a pool and a gym and came with a garage parking spot. Then came the last line, it read – “One small to medium sized dog is welcomed – no cats, reptiles or other pets allowed.” It was like the listing was made just for us!
I emailed, five minutes has past since the listing was posted. The landlord called back immediately and from the very start of our conversation, I got a great vibe from her. It was a welcomed surprise to find out their unit was in a building we had previously visited and loved. I excitedly set up a viewing for that Sunday.
My roommate was on a sailboat, in the middle of the bay all weekend, so I when ahead and visited the place without him. As soon as they opened the door fell in love both with the condo and our future landlords – the place was adorable, they were two of the nicest people I’ve ever met and they too had an incredibly sweet dog. I made the bold decision of paying the deposit without my roommate ever even seeing the place, but I knew (or more so hoped) he’d agree that I had finally found the right condo for us.
Luckily, after seeing it for himself, he did agree. So did Nattie. Three weeks later we all moved in.
So after endless hours of searching, it all came down to 5 minutes. 300 seconds. In the world of Internet searches, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time…maybe with a little bit of luck sprinkled in too.