Tips for Off-Season Apartment Hunting in San Francisco

October 20, 2015

4:00 pm

There are many ways to find an apartment in San Francisco: Traditional real estate sites, Craigslist, word of mouth.

Craigslist started here and while it is a good place to look, going through Craigslist is time-consuming and amazingly ineffective. Craigslist started here and while it is a good place to look, going through Craigslist is time-consuming and amazingly ineffective. Watch out for the listings that are vague or without photos, they are unfortunately numerous.

Search for keywords—like “view”, “Victorian” or “Mission” without using the neighborhood search feature. You can find great apartments that were miscategorized and it helps you find cool pads in neighborhoods you would not have considered. If a listing has a phone number write it down.

Listen to Word of Mouth—Everyone knows the best apartments are handed down from friend to friend as people leave the city. Ask everyone you know, post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. that you are looking. You may find the one, fast.

Keep Transportation in Mind —The big issue with living in the city is the commute. I lived in Berkeley when I first moved to San Francisco you need the BART to get you to the city. I had to hop on the bus and then take the BART, always took me an hour. Later I moved to Pacific Heights and my commute was cut down to 15 minutes door to door.

Be Aware of Neighborhoods— such as the Marina are great but the commute downtown can be tricky because of the bus systems. Just realize some neighborhoods are much more ideal to live in than others for commute times. Same goes with bikes. Certain neighborhoods are better to live in if you plan on biking a lot (watch out for those San Francisco hills!)

Be Prepared to Pounce — When you go to an open house come with your documents, copy of your photo ID, etc all organized. When you email act very interested but ask no questions. Save all the questions for when you meet the landlord, the person renting just wants to get the job done.

Make sure you get the person’s telephone number and e-mail, and don’t be afraid to use them. Better to be a little annoying than ignored and forgotten in a big pile of applications, be nice and never pushy. I said something like “we’re very interested and just wanted to remind you how interested we are in your beautiful place.”

Watch out for words like “Cozy.”—Nothing is worse than showing up to an open house of an apartment that was misrepresented online. My personal favorite is when someone calls a large studio a “one bedroom” apartment.

Hope these few tips helped. Happy Hunting!

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I'm a founder , operator and writer. Co-founder of Frontdoor a new service that uses artificial intelligence to create a smarter, simpler and more personalized real estate experience—wherever you are!

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