Apartment hunting in San Francisco


Since I moved to San Francisco just over an year ago, I have often been asked by my other migratory friends about the apartment hunting process here. So, here are a few quick tips for those of you looking for an apartment in the city:

  • Look for listings on craigslist.com and livelovely.com all through the week (yes, do it while you are at work). Good apartments don’t stay on the market for long. So, call them and make an appointment as soon as possible.
  • Make a calendar of open houses and showing appointments for the upcoming weekend/weekdays.
  • Get to the open houses a little earlier than scheduled time.
  • Keep one packet of a bunch of important information about you for each of the open houses. This includes your credit report, pay statements, references address/phone numbers, chequebook, and whatever that can help you sell yourself. The owners are looking for stable income – the more the merrier!
  • Carry a pen to the open house.
  • You’re gonna have to make a quick decision to apply or not. If you want to show the place to someone else, take some pictures and share with them. While they are taking their time to pore over the pictures, you should be filling out the application – it’s usually ‘first come first serve’ if the owner gets more than one good application; and trust me, they always get more than one good application.
  • More about the last point – see a few bad apartments before you see a good one. If you love the first one you see, you’re probably going to be hesitant in applying without seeing any others.
  • Application are often free. So, apply even if there is a slight chance that you like the place (do this even if the application costs a small amount). This buys you more time to look at other apartments while they go through your app (takes ~1-2 day).
  • Look for constructions, fire stations, or any other sources of noise nearby. Open the windows and make sure that the noise level in the apartment is acceptable.
  • After seeing the place, take a quick walk around the block to check out the neighborhood in general.
  • Neighborhood crimespotting resource: http://sanfrancisco.crimespotting.org/
  • Use this tool to look up information about the building that you are interested in: http://ec2-50-17-237-182.compute-1.amazonaws.com/PIM/ -> Tells you the year in which the building was built which tells you if it is rent controlled or not.

Happy hunting!

PS: Image credit – http://www-conf.slac.stanford.edu/lp13/tourism.asp

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