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On The Hunt: Open Your House to Me

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At this very moment, Curbed's very own Abby Pontzer is on the hunt for an apartment in San Francisco. As any current apartment-seeking SFian knows, it's more difficult than ever to score a lease in the city right now. We're giving her a space here on Curbed to share her stories of hope, failure and useful information to help guide you along the path of San Francisco's rental scene. Have a hot tip or question for Abby? Feel free to drop her a line.

[Open House Madness via Abby Pontzer]

So far we've covered what to look for in a rental, how to search, and what to bring with you when you're applying. Today let's talk about actually going to see the apartment.

There are three ways to go see an apartment. By far the most popular in a time where vacancies are so low is the open house. You show up with everyone else at a set time and walk through the house. The property manager or listing agent or landlord will be there to answer questions and take applications. I've seen open houses lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours, but I think the advice here is to get in early. Fatigue will probably set in for the landlord pretty quickly and they'll start forgetting who they talked to -- another reason to have your application packet ready! It's been covered plenty how ridiculous open houses are getting - the picture above is outside an open house for a two bedroom on 24th and Folsom.

The other ways to see a rental are to meet privately with the listing agent or to go by yourself - some property management companies will let you take the keys and see the apartment on your own time. I find both of these methods much more desirable - no time pressure, you're able to check whether you can hear neighbors or traffic, and you can really get to know the agent and try to charm your way to the top of the list. That's if you want the apartment, of course!

Do's:
Introduce yourself and what you're looking for. Even if this apartment isn't right, the agent may have something else they know about.

Bring a tape measure! If you're worried about fitting a particular piece of furniture or want to compare space across all your potential rentals, this is the way to do it.

Check your list. If you're at the open house, all your dealbreakers should be covered, but check for all your "nice to haves." After five open houses, it will be hard to remember if there was an adequate number of three-pronged outlets.

Check to make sure you actually want the apartment before applying. It's easy to get caught up at an open house because everyone else is applying and think that you need to as well.

Don'ts:
Try to lie to other potential tenants or bad-mouth the apartment in hopes of dissuading them from applying. I went to an open house where a guy outside was trying to lie to people that the bedroom was actually a separate studio apartment, but without a kitchen or bathroom. It was weird.

Monopolize the landlord's time. They'll notice whether you are rude to them or other tenants, and will be less likely to enter into a long-term business relationship with you.

Next time we'll be talking about what to do once you've finally gotten the apartment -- and whether there is any room for negotiation. Until then, what kinds of crazy or great things have you seen at open houses, dear readers? Any bad behavior to report on? Anything fantastic you wish you'd thought of? Let us know in the comments.
· On the Hunt: How To Prepare Yourself For the Perfect Rental [CurbedSF]
· On The Hunt: How to Organize your Rental Search and Avoid Information Overload [CurbedSF]
· On The Hunt: Applications that Move You the Front [CurbedSF]