The great apartment hunt

28 Aug

At the beginning of August, I told my landlady that I would like to renew the lease on my apartment.  I’ve done the same thing each of the last three years.  This time, she didn’t answer my email.  I waited a week and sent a reminder.  Two days later she gave me a call.

Photo taken shortly after I moved in after my housewarming party in November of 2008

I don’t talk to my landlady very often.  When the faucet broke, when I needed to repair a hole in the wall – maybe half a dozen times over the last four years.  I knew something was up.

She told me that she and her husband had decided to sell the apartment and that while she was happy to have me to continue to live there until that point, she didn’t feel comfortable signing a new lease – it would have to be month to month.  We discussed it for a while and I hung up realizing that I would need to start looking for another place – even though I have no idea how long it will take to sell, as soon as it goes on the market each day there will be agents and people wanting to come see – and all of my things are in the apartment.

I like my complex a lot and so my initial thought was to try to find a place in the same complex.  Li helped me look at the beginning but I finally decided to reach out to the agent who helped me find my current apartment four years ago and she agreed to meet me to start the process again.

Different types of floors and furniture

Beds (or not) – there was one place that didn’t have a bed.

Windows in different places

Some pretty interesting light fixtures.

Over a two week time period in the middle of August I saw 15 different apartments in four different complexes either in my same complex or in other neighboring areas, 4 of which I liked enough to start negotiating on.  Some of those units are above – my agent took photos to remind me of the places and I also took notes so that I could remember as well.

Prices have gone up in the last four years and I knew if I wanted to stay where I was I was looking at a 25 to 30% increase for something similar to what I have now.  I didn’t anticipate however how much much the rental market has swung in favor of landlords.  That’s when things started to turn into more of a challenge.

The first place had been rented to someone else between when I looked at it and made my offer.  Not an issue.

The second place – the owner accepted my offer, showed up for the contract signing and proceeded to get into a fight with his agent in front of me.  The owner started accusing the agent of not telling the truth and then proceeded to leave, saying he needed more time to think things through.  I never heard back from either of them.

The third place – the owner accepted my offer and we chose a time for the contract signing.  I had gone to the bank and had a huge envelope full of cash – a two month deposit and the first month rent.  My agent and I were in the lobby reviewing the contract one last time and 10 minutes before the owner sent my agent a text message saying that she no longer wanted to rent the apartment.

At that point I started crying.

Moving is a pain and I know that I am a desirable renter.  I travel a lot, I have no children, no pets, I have a stable job and keep my house neat and tidy.  The way that the payment works is that after the initial my employer will actually then pay the landlord for me and deduct it from my paycheck, so it’s as hassle free as it gets.

My agent is a woman a few years younger than my mom who zips around between appointments on an electric scooter – you could tell that she wasn’t quite sure what to do.  She started comforting me saying that she would make it her mission to find me an apartment but she would need a day or two to line up more properties.  There was nothing I could do at that point, so I went home.

Two days later she gave me a call saying that one of the other properties I had looked at previously but the price had been too high, she thought the owner may negotiate more.  I gave her the go ahead to try for my price point.  Last week she gave me a call saying that the owner wanted to meet me – face to face – not a contract signing, just a meeting.

We arranged a time and I met him and now I’m waiting for his reply.  I have a good feeling about this one.

I hope my apartment hunt is over, but until I have keys in my hand things could still change.

Have you ever had a hard time finding an apartment?  What’s been your strangest landlord story?  I’ll share what finally happens when I know.  Wish me luck.

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