06-18-09 - Things annoying me while apartment searching

1. Craigslist is fucking awful, but it's all I've got. I can't filter in any meaningful way, hell I can't even select for just 1 bedrooms or by neighborhood in Seattle. So I have to manually poke through the listings myself (of course the search is horribly broken), and I can't mark ads I've already seen before, and people keep relisting the same property over and over.

2. Walking around my neighborhood, I see *tons* of stuff for rent that's not on the internet. It seems like every building around here has a vacancy now as the market is crashing. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that? Oh, yay, you put a "for rent" sign outside the building. How many bedrooms? what floor? what square feet? am I supposed to phone every single fucking building in the whole city !? my god.

3. Ridiculously amateurish and unprofessional people renting these things. Some people I call & email over and over and they never get back to me at all. Good job. Others put up apartment listings that are just woefully lacking in information. My god, fucking list the square footage at least.

4. Intentional lies & left out information in the ads. Of course lots of the people who leave out the square feet do it on purpose, like the place that say "spacious 1 bedroom" and then you email them and they tell you it's 550 square feet. The big thing people do here is neighborhood lies. Everything around claims to be "Capitol Hill" - no, fuckers, First Hill down in the hospitals is not Cap Hill, fucking Central District half way down Rainier is not cap hill, fucking Eastlake is not cap hill, hell I've seen places across the fucking bridge on Beacon Hill claiming to be "Cap Hill". Liars.

5. The ridiculous pretention that we're not in a huge real estate crash. All the ads are like "rare unit available - act now ! prestigious building!" uhh, hello, half the fucking city is vacant or on sale right now. You can quit with pretending that I should feel fortunate that you are being kind enough to try to rent to me.

In general I'm a little torn about whether to hurry up and get out of here (god knows I need to get out of here), vs. take my time and find a really great place or wait for the market to crash a bit more. My "boots on the ground" view of the market here is that it has completely crashed, people are moving out left and right, but the sellers/landlords have not yet come face to face with the reality, so sale prices are still high and rents are still high. Right now there's a glut of supply that's just not moving, tons of condos are sitting empty unsold. In the next 6 months or so there's going to be a price crash.

I'm finding I'm still a sucker for these charming old 1910-1920 buildings. They're just so beautiful and full of charm and character; every time I look at a brand new building it just feels like a boring box, like a hotel room, and it makes me feel claustrophobic and ill. I dunno, maybe I'm attracted to the high I get from lead and mold poisoning.

For example I noticed these new condos Lumen are going on auction. Looking at the pictures just makes me angry and sick. Some developer just slapped together a bunch of drywall and sheets of metal and calls it "modern" "sleek" "urban" and wants to sell each condo for $500k. I bet you could build those kind of units a few days each. One can easily understand why there are so many new condos like this popping up all over the city - if people are dumb enough to buy them, it's a HUGE windfall for the developer.

Some of the more interesting projects around here :

First Church on 15th near Group Health was going to be converted to condos. I'm sure the project is going to die now, but it's at least sort of interesting. Of course they just put super cheapo generic "modern" hotel box shit inside it, but at least you have the old church around you.

The new unfinished condos on Cal Anderson Park are going to auction. I've been looking at them for a while now, wondering why they've been sitting there for months 90% finished. Well, apparently the developer ran out of money. It's kind of an amazing location, looking right out on the park, though that could also be a bit of a negative because you have zero privacy and there are a lot of hobos and kids in that park.

Harvard and Highland is the big new project going up in the historic mansion district. The condos are huge (2000 sqft) and crazy expensive, it doesn't make any sense IMO, but the web page is cool because it has an interactive map of the neighborhood with info on all the great homes around there. It's one of the best pages I've ever seen on the local robber baron's mansions.

Unrelated but Edith Macefield�s army of tattoos is cool.

There's still a ton of new construction around here that isn't done yet. All the massive amounts of shitty old buildings are going to be in trouble. Among other things, the population density in urban seattle is *massively* expanding these days, with tons of big condo projects in cap hill & especially South Lake Union. The infrastructure does not exist to handle all these people and no thought or money is being put into designing the growth of the city in a manageable constructive way.


Aaron said...

Re searching: in a way it's kinda great though. Find the exact street you want to live on. Go walk down it and call all the for rent signs. It only takes a few minutes to get the particulars over the phone for each one. That's how Marian and I rented our apartment on Eastlake (at that time rentals were plentiful because it was the boom peak and everyone with or without extra cash had bought a second place and were renting it out). We ran out of craigslist listings and just started driving around calling. I'd only bother calling once unless you're in love from the outside. There's so much supply, who cares, just move on.

Go slow, choose carefully. Just the fact that you're looking for somewhere new will buy you lots of psychological freedom in your current bad situation and make it feel much less bad for a fair while.

New construction really does suck balls in a lot of ways, esp for purchasing. Peeking at the 5-10yr old new construction stuff around town is pretty illuminating. A lot of it is disintegrating. You're claustrophobic/ill feeling is probably partially the air-tightness of new stuff. It's marinating you in it's complex new flooring/carpet/drywall/adhesive/paint hydrocarbons.

Aaron said...

"only bother calling once" -> "only bother calling MORE than once"

For some reason every time I make a typo these days it inverts the meaning I'm intending.

cbloom said...

It's depressing looking at new places when you see these old gems that were made with such care and skill :


everything now is so squared off and flat; it's a bunch of flat planes tacked together. It's like junior CSG modeller who only has a cube primitive. Old places like the 1005 are actually plaster that's hand-layed and shaped with all kinds of wood trim that's bevelled and mitred by actual craftsmen.

But I'm going with a new place if possible. I sacrifice all my deepest held beliefs for comfort when it comes down to it.

Aaron said...

That's cool... I look forward to the entertaining posts (is that mean to say?). You're like the canary in the coal mine who gets to try all the wacky experimental stuff, then we all get to read how it goes on here.

I'm sure there is good, cool modern construction out there. You just gotta find it/pay for it.

Sly said...

My 3 latest apartments have been 1965+ (what renters would call modern?): less outside noise, central heating (cheaper when renting - not when owning), real-wooden ground. I'd not go back to my first apartment, even if paid for.

Simply don't pick the first shit you'll see: unfortunately they're so many modern buildings with weak audio protection. Also most modern building have a too strong thermal protection, meaning too much chemical pollution and too few air natural ventilation inside.

old rants