On the Hunt

Posted by in Major Events

It’s Saturday afternoon…a pleasant 70 degrees in San Jose, California. We’re parked outside an apartment complex, waiting for our 2 o’clock viewing appointment, applications in hand.

I feel like a vulture circling over my next meal.

Brady and I spent all day Friday prowling around Santa Clara, San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Cupertino, searching for an apartment to rent. We had some help from a relocation specialist, which certainly made things a lot less stressful. But let’s face it, apartment hunting is still exhausting.

Apartment hunting in the Bay Area has turned out to be somewhat of an experiment in the “survival of the fittest.” Be there fast, be there first. Do your research and ask the right questions. It’s best to shop on a weekday, because everyone else shops on the weekends. Take a completed rental application, along with a credit report and letters of recommendation from your landlords. That way, if you see a place that you like, you can apply for it right there on the spot. You have to beat the competition.

Then there’s the landlords’ and apartment managers’ side of the dance. They have to be able to sell you on the unit. Are they shy? Confident? Quiet? Talkative? Easy to work with? They know all the right things to say to give you a sense of urgency, without being too pushy. “We’re hitting our busy season, so these units probably won’t be available after the weekend.” We heard that a lot.

After visiting several apartment complexes, and a few condos, Brady and I decided we’d prefer a condo. (Note: Condo = privately owned, Apartment = management company). Condo owners generally take better care of their unit, since they only own one (or maybe two). It’s also easier to work with a private owner, rather than a faceless management company.

Okay, back to the vulture…

On Friday, we went to 11 different complexes, toured nine of the units, and gathered dozens of applications, brochures, and business cards. We felt like we came away with some pretty good options, but we still weren’t 100% satisfied.

There was one condo our relocation specialist found that was only open for touring on Saturday. The pictures looked nice. The location was better than most of the others we had seen. The complex was new, and it wasn’t sprawled out over dozens of buildings. Brady and I were intrigued, so we decided to go check it out on our own.

The condo opened for tours at 2 p.m. We arrived ten minutes early, and started eyeing the other cars pulling into the parking lot. I was convinced that every one of them were coming to tour the same apartment, and I don’t take kindly to competition.

1:56 p.m.: I couldn’t wait any longer. I called the landlord and asked if we could come up and see the unit. We had to be the first people in, so we could be the first ones to apply, and hopefully, get approved and sign a lease on the spot.

After six hours of apartment hunting the day before, we figured we’d know a good thing when we saw it. And this condo was definitely it. We walked inside and instantly I knew I had to live here. Full-size washer and dryer, two bedrooms, plenty of storage space, HUGE kitchen (especially compared to our previous one)…oh, and within walking distance to the best shopping in San Jose. Yes, I was home.

But there was a problem. Just as we were about to swoop in and lay claim to our find…the landlord got a phone call. Someone else wanted to see the place. He went downstairs to let them in, while Brady and I paced around, making sure we had done everything we could to let him know we really wanted to rent from him. I started mulling over possible scenarios. He might show the apartment to 20 different people, and find someone he liked better. Maybe because we were the first, we had set a high standard and left a good impression. Or maybe because we were the first, he’d forget all about us by the time the day was over. We left the condo just as the landlord was bringing the the next prospective tenants down the hall. A man and woman, middle-aged…certainly we had to be better than them. Brady and I paused to thank the landlord and tell him we were looking forward to a phone call from him, while I sized up the other potential renters. We said goodbye…and left.

The next 24 hours were a mix of anxiety and agony. I had already convinced myself we weren’t going to get the place, so I was gearing up for bitter disappointment, and not looking forward to jumping back into the hunt. But I still kept a faint glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, we’d be accepted.

Then, Sunday afternoon, my phone rang.

It was the landlord. He asked if we were still interested in renting the condo. I tried not to sound like an over-caffeinated cheerleader as I said, “Absolutely!” and started doing a little victory dance with myself. We agreed on a move-in date, he emailed us the rental agreement…and WE GOT THE APARTMENT!!!

*Sigh* What an eventful weekend.