4 Reasons Apartment Hunting Sucks
There's no reason to lie about this: I'm searching for a new apartment right now. There's also no reason to lie about this: I hate doing it. It's the worst thing. Searching for an apartment is just one of the many aspects of adulthood no one warns you about. I'm here to warn you about it, to serve as a warning and say that Apartment Hunting is a big, fat piece of shit.
These Pictures Are Bullshit
This is going to sound like an exaggeration, but believe me when I say that no one who has ever tried to sell an apartment online has any idea how to take photographs. Not one. A lot of renters don't even post pictures of their apartment online, and that's fine, it just means no one is ever going to live there. Some renters will just hang out in an apartment with a buddy, toss the camera back and forth and publish whatever pictures accidentally get snapped in the process. They look at pictures like this...
...and they think "Yes, these are representative of my apartment. This provides future renters with all of the information they would need to make a decision. I'm gonna go ahead and publish these to the internet, and then I'm going to see if I can swallow my own tongue, because I'm not very bright at all." You're right, shockingly-self-aware-fictitious-renter, you are an idiot. Now, while I made the above pictures to prove a point, I could have just as easily picked any random apartment ad. Like this one!
Someone has one shot to make you fall in love with their apartment online, and those were the only pictures they found necessary to post. I have no idea what rooms I'm looking at or if this place even has a toilet. What these pictures say to me is "Come live here, we probably have most of a kitchen!" If you look at the difference between Photo 1 and Photo 2, it's clear that their camera is capable of taking wide shots, which means they intentionally cropped out portions of their second photo. "Sure, this is all part of the apartment, but I don't think they need to know about most of this space; let's trim some of that fat and just show them the door, that's all they're looking for."
Some other renters do include pictures, but only pictures of the exterior, or the street around the apartment...
The only pictures associated with one listing.
What do they expect? No future tenant is going to say "A pool and what is clearly some bushes? I've seen all I need to see- I'll take it!" That person doesn't exist. Some landlords do include pictures, but they'll add some douchey, aggravating fisheye lens, which is their subtle way of saying "Look, I own a fisheye lens!"
When I look at this, I feel like all of the rooms are saying "BooOOOooww!"
Unless the rooms actually look like that, (which, if they do- what?), don't include it in your ad. We only want to see what your apartment really looks like, (we're weird like that). And, if you want people to rent your apartment, there is no benefit to being misleading in your ad. It's almost like some people are trying to scam us, but like, in a really misguided way...
People Are Trying to Scam You, But Like, in a Really Misguided Way
While searching for apartments, you'll learn a new, secret language unique to apartment ads. You'll see words like "Cozy" and "Charming" and "Certainly Not Covered In Ants, If That's What You're Worried About," and you'll learn after visiting a few places that they actually stand for "Tiny," "Mostly Nonfunctioning In A Variety of Unique Ways," and "Just Fucking Ants, Everywhere, Man, I Don't Even Know What To Do Anymore."
It's beautiful, but yeah, the ants control the rent.
And if they're not dressing up a tiny, broken apartment in creative language, then they're just withholding information. They'll leave out pictures of the kitchen, they'll describe their square footage as "unspecified," and in the part of the ad where they're supposed to tell you if the unit comes with parking, they'll dodge the question and say "Great view of things you should check it out so close to a Whole Foods!"
"If you like parking, you'll love paying too much for groceries!"
They don't want to tell you any of the bad things about the apartment, but I honestly don't see a scenario wherein this con actually pays off. If you're apartment doesn't have a kitchen, even if you don't include it in your ad, I'm eventually going to find out. If you're selling a bullshit product over the internet, I can understand being less-than-truthful in your description. But that's a product, where it's much easier to trick someone into sending you money. There doesn't seem to be any benefit in lying in your ad if your endgame requires me to look at your apartment before signing anything. Also, lying makes you seem less legitimate, you're almost like one of those terrible internet scammers. Oh, hey!
People Are Trying to For Real Scam You
Quick story. I found the perfect place. It was exactly where I wanted a place to be. It had all of the amenities I wanted, plus a bunch of appliances I didn't even know I wanted, (a chandelier made of magic bullets???). It was clean and spacious and convenient and several hundred dollars cheaper than everything else in the same area. This was in my early days of apartment hunting, so I was excited. The Craigslist ad told me to email the owner, so I did. Momma and Poppa O'Brien did their best to not raise an idiot so, to be on the safe side, I created a new just-in-case-this-is-a-scam hotmail account and used it to ask for more information and, specifically, why the hell this place was so cheap.
Also it looked like this.
The owner responded promptly, explaining that she needed someone to move in quickly, and that the deal was so good because she just couldn't find anybody to take this incredibly sexy place off her, (I imagined), incredibly sexy hands. She then explained that she was moving to England, and she asked if I could just go ahead and wire the money for the security deposit and first month's rent to her through Western Union, just so she knows I'm legit. Then she said that she has no friends in America, so she would just mail me the keys after I wired the money over.
I was, of course, suspicious, because I'm kind of clever, but I didn't immediately know it was a scam, because I'm mostly dumb. I Googled around a bit and realized that she had pulled this scam many, many times. She goes on Craigslist several times a year posting the same pictures and trying to sling the same bullshit story about moving away, just so people will wire her money in exchange for keys that will never come. I was, as you might imagine, frustrated that the perfect apartment didn't exist and I'd wasted a bunch of my time, so I calmly emailed her telling her what kind of shithead she was, (the biggest kind!), and as my final insult, attached a picture of my dick giving her the finger. She has since hacked and subsequently taken over my dummy hotmail account, so I guess we're even?
The point is, when you're searching on Craigslist for an apartment, there's a good chance that if you're looking at something great and wonderful, it's probably a huge hairy scam. Because Craigslist is a... wait, let me do it the right way.
Craigslist Is a Fart
Every problem of modern apartment hunting, (with the exception of everyone hating you), comes down to the very simple "Craigslist is a Fart" principle. I don't know what one is required to have to make a Craigslist ad, but based on what I've seen, I'm going to guess it's "an internet connection" and "most of a keyboard."
You clearly don't need to take some kind of test or give a background check or produce anything that would assure Craigslist that you're a legitimate person offering a legitimate product/service/apartment. You just show up and you get to ask people to give you money for things. That's why modern apartment hunting is such a pain in the ass. If you just Google "apartments in , the only response you'll get will be from rental companies that make you pay for the privilege of knowing what apartments are even available.
None of those links will take you to someone who is genuinely trying to rent an apartment to you, they'll take you to companies who refuse to tell you if there are any apartments available unless you pay them. So, if you're cheap, or if you refuse to pay for a service that you think is fundamentally absurd and unnecessary, (my way of justifying my own cheapness), you're left with Craigslist which, as established, is a fart.
Go to the Apt/housing section of Craigslist, and type in the name of a major city, (Hollywood, Beverly Hills, New York, etc). You'll see a ton of responses, but I guarantee you the breakdown is this: Scams- 30%; Inconvenient Fake Bullshit- 60%; Legitimate Ads- 10%.
"Inconvenient Fake Bullshit" is extra annoying. If you choose "Hollywood" as your location, you expect to get a bunch of listings in Hollywood, but instead you'll end up with dozens and dozens of listings that are 20-30 miles outside of Hollywood. If someone puts the word "Hollywood" in the body of their ad, it'll jump to the front page of Craigslist's apartment results for "Hollywood." And people know this, so someone trying to sell an apartment in Poopshitnowhere will include things like "Great neighborhood, just a few miles from Hollywood" and "Within driving distance of Santa Monica," or sometimes just "Hollywood Los Angeles UCLA LMU Beach Mountains Whole Foods Vacation Parties!" The result for them is that a lot of people will see their ad. The result for you, as a potential tenant, is that you have to sift through page after page of listings for places 30 miles outside of where you're trying to live.
Craigslist Sorting Technology hasn't caught up to this problem yet, so it just happens. They also haven't realized that, if there's nothing in place to stop scammers right from the start, the scammers won't stop. Ever. I have smiling, American money that I would like to hand someone in exchange for a convenient place to live/poop/put my things, but instead I end up ducking scams and wasting time driving to crappy apartments that post misleadingly-attractive pictures, because 90% of landlords learned everything they know about advertising from fourteen-year-old girls on Myspace. Not everything needs to be a hassle and a scam, but apartment hunting certainly is.
This, I propose, is due to general fartiness, somewhere on the administrative level of Craigslist.