Posted Jul 26, 2013

Lessons from the Hunt: the Lovely Team Shares Personal Rental Experiences

We’ve written a lot about best practices for conducting your hunt for a new home and if you’ve visited our blog previously you may be familiar with some of these recommendations: set realistic expectations, be prepared, stay organized and take advantage of the tools Lovely has designed to help you stand out among the competition, such as mobile alerts and the Lovely Renter Card. These are all important steps to ensure a successful search, but getting advice from friends or peers who have recently taken on the same challenges you’re about to face and have lived to tell the tale can also be useful in helping you understand exactly how to navigate your own search.

As a team of renters, we know what you’re going through and feel your pain because we’ve all been there! We polled several members of the Lovely team who have recently relocated so you can learn from personal experience what to avoid during your search and what it takes to land your dream home.

Happy Hunting!

sam

Sam Bolgert – Software Engineer

When did you move and to where?
I moved five days ago actually. I relocated from Berkeley to the Inner Sunset neighborhood in San Francisco.

What were your top priorities as a renter? Did you have to sacrifice any of them?
My top priority was finding a place that was dog-friendly and luckily, I was able to find a place in my budget that allows dogs. I ended up sacrificing a bit on location but my new apartment has a lot of great amenities I never expected to find in San Francisco within my budget so have been really happy overall. Plus, Lucy loves living just a short walk away from Golden Gate Park.

What materials did you prepare during your search?
It may seem a bit obvious, but I followed a lot of the advice on Lovely’s blog and completed Lovely’s Renter Resume and brought along a credit check, two weeks of pay stubs as proof of income and a copy of my photo ID. I also had a guarantor application which I didn’t end up needing but the property managers I met with appreciated me having it prepared.

What’s your favorite amenity in your new apartment?
I think it’s a tie between a brand new, completely renovated bathroom and hardwood floors.

What’s your best advice for first-time renters?
Be flexible. Spend time before you start your search figuring out what really matters to you and be as flexible as possible on everything that is not a must-have.

I’d also tell first-time renters not to be too quick to judge locations or neighborhoods without visiting them first and not to let others’ opinions influence priorities or decisions. I heard a lot of mixed reviews about my current neighborhood but after spending time exploring it I’ve discovered awesome local shops and restaurants and met some really friendly neighbors.

Would You Rather: live 15 blocks from the nearest laundromat or in a unit below an up-and-coming metal band recording their latest album?
I’d take the laundromat.

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Rebecca Remis – Office Manager

When did you move and to where?
Well, I technically moved out to San Francisco in February of this year but didn’t end up signing a lease until April for a great apartment in North Beach. I was really happy to finally land a place of my own after moving between friends and family members’ houses for several months.

What were your top priorities as a renter? Did you have to sacrifice any of them?
Price, safety of the neighborhood and size of the apartment were my top priorities. I was also considering convenience to shops, restaurants and nightlife but that was not on the top of my list and I ended up sacrificing the exact location I had in mind.

What materials did you prepare during your search?
I prepared a generic rental application, bank statements and guarantor information after hearing I needed it at the first viewing I attended. I also brought my checkbook to showings and open houses because I heard from a lot of friends that it is common in San Francisco for people pay the application fee and sometimes even the security deposit on the spot, so I wanted to be prepared in case I fell in love with a place and didn’t want to lose it.

What’s your favorite amenity in your new apartment?
Hands down, in unit washer/dryer.

What’s your best advice for first time renters?
Have all your application materials ready and be prepared to be decisive. It can be very competitive and delaying your decision even a few hours may mean losing the apartment.

Would You Rather: live 15 blocks from the nearest laundromat or in a unit below an up-and-coming metal band recording their latest album?
Did I mention I love my in-unit washer/dryer? I’ll take the metal band!

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Erik Preston – Director of Supply

When did you move and to where?
I moved two months ago, from my brother’s couch in North Beach to a pretty nice four bedroom apartment in Pacific Heights.

What were your top priorities as a renter? Did you have to sacrifice any of them?
I was moving with three roommates so we were really insistent on the size of the apartment and bed/bath count to make sure we all felt comfortable in the space. We also were looking for a large garage space for kayaks, skateboards, surfboards and a lot of other sports gear.

Yes, such specific criteria forced us to move to a location that was not exactly ideal, but still very manageable. We also ended up going completely over the budget we set out, but in exchange got all of our ideal amenities and some surprises like a large backyard. Overall, was able to find a much nicer apartment than I expected.

What materials did you prepare during your search?
Lovely’s Renter Resume of course! We definitely take our own medicine here at Lovely. But honestly, it helped my roommates and me get organized and figure out exactly what details we needed to have in order. In addition to everything included on the Renter Resume, we completed generic applications and had copies of everyone’s credit score, proof of income and photo IDs.

What’s your favorite amenity in your new apartment?
Our apartment has an awesome open living/dining room that opens right into the kitchen; the whole space has been such a nice place for us to hang out and entertain friends so I think that’s probably my favorite thing about the new place.

My second favorite is a tie between our three Jacuzzis and built in wine fridge.*

What’s your best advice for first time renters?
Be prepared. Do research to get a sense for the market so you know what you can realistically afford. Clearly defining both your priorities and deal breakers will dramatically help focus your search. Compile all your rental credentials and information together so you can act quickly as soon as you find a place you love.

Also, if you can help it, try not to move in the Summer. There may be less inventory available during other months, but there is also much less competition and prices can drop up to 20%.

Would You Rather: live 15 blocks from the nearest laundromat or in a unit below an up-and-coming metal band recording their latest album?
I can’t live without an in-unit washer/dryer, so I’ll take the metal band.**

Editor’s Notes:
*Comment was delivered with the perfect balance of satire and sarcasm.
** Comment was delivered with complete sincerity.

About

Elizabeth is the Communications & Marketing Lead at Lovely where she helps spread the word about Lovely's mission far and wide. She loves corgis, Beyonce and helping renters enjoy the best possible experience in their homes.

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