Finding an Apartment Is Terrible – Please Help!

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Topic: Finding an Apartment Is Terrible – Please Help!

Real Estate March 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

Finding an Apartment Is Terrible – Please Help!

Hello –
Does anyone have any advice for cutting through the mess of Craigslist and finidng an apartment?  My girlfriend and I are trying to find either a 1 bdrm or an affordable 2 bdrm apartment in Adams Morgan, U Street, Shaw, Logan, or East Dupont, but are having a ton of trouble.  The majority of the time we get no response from craigslist posters, and other times they have only time during the work week to show the apartment. 
Any suggestions?  

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I’ve been there. I spent months and months researching apartments in Dupont/AdMo for me and my roommate last year. Finally something just happened to show up on Craigslist that was perfect, and within two days I had it. That’s really the best way to do it, just keep searching Craigslist like a madman. GOod luck!

As a landlord of a single property all I can tell you is that if you see something your like you have to put your application in immediately.  I posted my two bedroom on craigslist and got about 6 emails in three hours about it. Try to make yourself sound as normal, employed and financially stable as possible in your email, that helps on the response rate.  You wouldn’t believe some of nutty sounding emails I got, thus I didn’t waste my time on responding other than to mention the open house.  I had an open house scheduled for a sunday about three days after the first posting because I didn’t want to do a bunch of indivual showings. However, a couple of people reached out to me in earnest  to see it earlier and I did show it before the open house.  I took two rental applications and an application fee and had the place rented out within three days of posting.   Its a landlord/sellers market.  I was once in your position though so I feel for you.  You just have to act fast, bring a check book to open houses for application fees and be prepared to make up your mind on the spot.   Also, start networking among every friend you have to see if they know anyone moving out.  You can also try renting in a new, managed building like ones in NoMa or Columbia Heights. You will pay a lot more but its less hassle to find something. 

I’ll concur with pv4life.  I’ve interviewed some nut jobs. N.B. If you’re interviewing for a rental with your significant other, please take a break from groping each other to make direct eye contact with your potential landlord. 

I can’t remember how to do it (I’m sure a web search will turn up instructions), but you can set up an RSS feed (through an interface like Google Reader) which will continuously update with new apartment listings from Craigslist that meet the search criteria you set.  I found that it made trawling through Craigslist ads less psychologically painful, and it draws new listings to your attention right away (the good places go unbelievably fast).  The process sucks, good luck!

Pad Mapper is a good site to use–you save time by not having to look up every place on Google maps.
Honestly though, looking for a place in DC is just…difficult. It took me probably at least 50 emails to Craigslist posters to find my current place. And the one I got was just by luck–I happened to respond to it 1 minute after it was posted, managed to be the first person to get there after work, and luckily they were looking to sign the first normal person who they found.
Many posters really aren’t going to respond, especially if you reply more than 24 hours after the ad was posted. As someone who has had to post on Craigslist for a roommate, I can attest that all of the advertizers are likely getting TONS of responses. I got more than 100 in 2 days, and then took the ad down because I couldn’t deal with more. You basically should just troll Craigslist and Pad Mapper constantly to up your odds. It sucks, but everyone’s gone through it, and it is worth it in the end!

It never hurts to post yourself under “Housing wanted” on CL either.  Again – give as much info. as you can – employed, stable, references available and sound as normal as you can.  Lots of landlords would love to have a great tennant drop in their lap and not have to go through the whole process!

You’ve all been very helpful.  Thank you everyone for all your responses, I’m glad I’m not alone in my frustration.  Wish there was an easier way, but oh well.  I’ll keep on trying.


Agree with all of the above, but I would also suggest making sure all of your friends know you are looking. Because craigslist is a hassle, I think some landlords skip it completely if possible, which good landlords/rentals often can accomplish easily. My landlords have those rare great deal apartments – relatively cheap because they want people who really take care of the place not because anything is wrong with it. They notify us when there is an opening. With the good price, good apartment, and our recommendation of the landlords, they get multiple responses simply through our networks and the place is gone within a few days.

We hired someone to find something, I would also suggest checking other sources than just craiglist obviously. Hope you find something!

Hi Scott,
I actually have an a 1 bedroom apartment that I’m looking to sublet starting May 1st. It’s in Columbia Heights, but it’s on the 14th ST side, so it’s about a 10 minute walk into Adams Morgan, to U Street and to the Metro. It’s an updated apartment with all new appliances/features and it’s got central air, etc. Let me know if you’re interested in hearing more. The sublet would run from May 1st to Sept 17th, but you’d have the option to renew the lease after that.

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