Housing market in San Francisco is very competitive. It’s not uncommon to come to an open house to find a line of people waiting outside. They key in this competitive market is to stand out among other apartment seekers. A word of warning: finding an apartment in San Francisco is not for the faint hearted. Be assertive, be organized, be patient, and cast your net far and wide.
Some Tips on finding an apartment in San Francisco
Have your paperwork ready before coming to an open house.
Things you will need:
– pay stub
– credit report
– a copy of your driver’s license
– checkbook (some places require you to pay for an application fee)
– an application form. Sometimes the application form needs to be downloaded from the real estate office website.
Find out what you need exactly beforehand.
Dress up and make an impression
First impression counts. Ask yourself, if you’re the landlord, what kind of tenants do you prefer? Take time to chat up the landlord or the real estate agents. They’ll probably receive dozens of applications – all with perfect credit records and income levels. How do you stand out among the rests? Be personable, and stress your interest in the apartment. Let them know how you’re planning to be the perfect tenant. In other words: kiss up.
Find short term living arrangement
San Francisco neighborhoods can be diverse. It’s worth staying in the city on a short term living arrangement while taking your time to check these neighborhoods out. We used AirBnb when we first moved in the city and got to experience living in the Mission District (awesome but pricey), and the Haight (pricey and touristy) before finally settling in Financial District.
– Extended stay hotels
If you really, really like the apartment, let the landlord or the real estate agent know. Give them a call after the open house to check on the application status and again stress your interest. If you can afford it, even offer to pay a year’s rent in advance. That’s how you let them know that you’re committed.
Don’t be too committed
Here’s the thing about San Francisco landlords: they fear tenants who never leave. Those people who stay for years and years to take advantage of the city’s rent control. It’s hard to kick tenants out in this city. Drop hints that after a year or two, you’d be looking for something more permanent. Don’t say things like, “I LOVE this place, I think I want to stay here for DECADES!” Yeah.
Ask the appropriate questions
Is there laundry in the building? Does it have dedicated parking spot? Make a list of all the features that are important to you and find out if the apartment you’re looking at can provide them.
On average it takes about a month to 6 weeks to find an apartment in San Francisco assuming you go to 2-3 open houses every week. It’s a tough but not an impossible market and assuming you have good credit – you will sooner or later find a place you can call home in the city.