Posted Aug 27, 2012
Apartment Hunting Tactic: Using Alerts
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, one key to apartment hunting is staying as far ahead of the game as possible. This is especially true in the crazy rental market of San Francisco, where apartments are in extremely high demand and there is relatively little available inventory.
In this post, we’d like to walk you through a tool we created to help you find relevant listings as soon as they hit the market. This tool is called Alerts, and it’s something you can set up in a few quick steps on our website. Our hope is that by the end of this post, you’ll never miss another listing that you wish you’d seen earlier.
Ok, let’s get started. By way of example, suppose you’re looking for a studio or one bedroom apartment and you know you want to live in the Lower Haight neighborhood of San Francisco. Having realistic rent expectations, you’ll aim for $2,500 or less.
Step 1: Set your search criteria
In the top search bar, type the name of the street, district, or neighborhood where you want to live. Click “More” to view the search window that allows you to select price range, number of bedrooms, and other requirements. Then click the orange magnifying glass at the bottom of the open window to run your search and view listings that match your criteria.
Step 2: Review your search results
If you’re happy with the number of listings in your results, then you’ve selected criteria that are well matched to the available inventory on the market (nice work!). If you see no results or very few, then you may wish to re-open the search window and adjust your filters.
Step 3: Set up an alert
Once you’re happy with your search criteria, it’s time to set up an alert. First, click the “Get alerts for this search” button, located next to the search filters above the map. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll be prompted to create one here. It’s free and you’ll need one so that we can link your alert back to you.
From the alert window, review the search criteria you selected. The small map on the right side will show you a blue outline of the area captured in your search. Also, select the alert frequency that’s most helpful for your apartment hunt and choose a name for the alert that you’ll remember. Then, save your alert by clicking the big orange button at the bottom of the window.
Tip : Consider setting multiple alerts. This is helpful in a variety of scenarios, for example if you’re looking at both 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments. In this case, set an alert for each bedroom number and the corresponding price range you’re comfortable with. The broader your search criteria, the higher the number of alerts you will receive, and vice versa.
Step 4: Receive fresh email listings
Below is an example of a Lovely email alert. It gives you a snapshot of each new listing, and a link to open the ones you want to look at. Open the full listing by clicking the orange arrow in the description box of the listing.
Step 5: See Site Notifications
You’ll also be notified of new listings that hit the market while you’re browsing our website. The notification button in the top right corner will appear orange when new listings become available and will include a number that shows how many.
Step 6: Find and manage your alerts
To see your alerts and make changes to their email frequency, name, or delete them when you’re finished, click to the alerts management page of our site. You can get here by clicking the Alerts & Saved Searches link at the bottom of the profile drop down menu.
In the example above, we set an alert for new listings that appear only in Lower Haight, which was the area visible on the map when we saved the alert. If you’re considering additional areas, you can select multiple neighborhoods for your alert.
To do this, open the search filters at the top of the map page. Then click the blue “add location” link next to Location Filters. You can scroll over and click the map on the left, or use the checklist on the right. To save these neighborhoods to your search, click the orange “Set locations” button at the bottom of the window. This will return you to the search filters, and when you’re ready to run the new search, click the orange magnifying glass.
Hopefully this tutorial has left you with a good understanding of how to best utilize the Alerts tool for your apartment hunt. By allowing us to do the hard work, you can rest assured that you won’t miss out on the apartment of your dreams.
Good luck, and happy hunting!