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Old 01-06-2012, 06:12 PM
 
Location: South Korea
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- lots of people are having their subprime mortgage rates reset, making their mortgages unaffordable, so they're dropping their houses/condos and getting into the rental market
- it's harder to get a housing loan in the first place so people who would be buying are renting instead
- there definitely is a mini tech boom, it's not huge but it's companies like Zynga hiring 25 year olds just out of Stanford and 40 year old Indian guys on visas, and paying them all about $80,000 a year. It's not huge money but it's enough to make a run on small apartments.
- people who already have apartments are staying put unless their rents are going up a bunch. Older buildings in SF have rent control so there's a ton of people in SF still paying low rents even if they signed their lease like 1 or 5 years ago during a bust period. And if their rents are going up then people are moving out of SF and into the East Bay and Peninsula, and this demand drives up prices there.
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Old 01-06-2012, 06:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mdwstrnkid View Post
Are you working with management companies or directly with the owners of the apartment? For our place, we worked directly with the owner of our unit. They asked for an application fee to cover the credit report, but since we each had a current copy of our report, they just took that and didn't charge us for getting it. Perhaps we were in a unique situation in our case. (Note that we did look at around 20 places before finding our current home, but that was mostly because we didn't like what we were seeing - there were tons of crappy units renting out for tons o' money...)
The problem lately seems to be that it's tough to find the owner of the apartment; the places we have seen this time around have all been through agents. When we rented before we DID work directly with the owner, which was MUCH better! We've been trying to network our way to a place this time, as well as look for signs in windows (how we found our place the last time, although the owner also listed it in CL). We may just be having bad luck, but this time around it seems like things are a lot sketchier than they were in 2008. We have met some agents who do seem to be very legitimate and honest (and are willing to take applications without fees if we provide our own current credit report), but lately they seem to be outnumbered. Of course that may potentially be because they move their places faster, while it's the more unscrupulous agents who let their listings sit for two weeks. We keep an eye on the listings by the agents we trust, as that's the next best thing -- I think, anyway -- to working with the owner directly.

We've taken a little break, though, so maybe now that it's into January there will be more movement. It may also have been that we hit it at the worst time of the year in an already very tight market. I am very much hoping that it eases up as we head into the rest of winter and then the spring. And I think you are right that working directly with the owner is most likely the way to go.
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