Awesome news! I found an apartment, secured it and signed the lease this morning. I'm going to be living in the Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. It is a 1 bedroom on the 4th floor of an older building near Grace Cathedral.
More photos (Flickr) ...
This ends a solid two weeks of searching for an apartment. I am counting myself among the lucky as I have heard it can take upwards of 6-8 weeks to find a place on average.
I started out working with an agent who showed me around the city. Unfortunately, neither she nor I truly knew what neighborhoods would work best for me, so the day we spent cruising the city was rather unproductive in finding me a place. However, I quickly recognized which neighborhoods to limit myself to. I chose Nob Hill as my favorite because of the quality of properties I had been seeing around there and the proximity to downtown San Francisco and the Polk St area.
My approach was to basically save Craigslist postings into PDF files, and then organize them into folders for each of the upcoming days. I also created a folder called "By Appointment". I would do this virtually every day, aggregating postings throughout the week. That way, by the time I left for work in the morning, I would know which apartments were showing that day. My new iPhone rocked for this purpose, as I would email the bunch of PDFs to my phone and then use Google Maps to plot out my course as I walked from place to place.
I would try to hit 1-2 apartments in a specific neighborhood almost every night. On the weekends, I would try and see 3-6 or more (schedules permitting).
Pretty much every apartment, regardless of neighborhood, would have tens of people show up to see it. It was ridiculously intimidating. Often, there would be absurd tasks to help boost your chances. At one place, they simply ranked applications by line order. At another, the agent made it a race to fill out the application. First one to finish got priority. Having an expiration date on my current housing situation, these kind of games were really grating on my confidence in finding a place in time.
As of the middle of this week, I decided to change my strategy a bit and started actually following up on the "By Appointment" folder. Most of the by-appointment places required you to call the property manager and leave a name and number. I hate talking on the phone, so I started off with the properties that had email addresses listed as a means of contact.
One of the posts that I had just seen posted on Craigslist listed only an email address, and had only a one or two line description. Given the limited details, I normally would have passed over the posting, but it was only 2 buildings down from an apartment I desperately wanted, but failed to get. Knowing how much I liked the area, I followed up with an email.
Thankfully, the current tenant, who was responsible for showing the apartment, responded almost immediately. I had just had an apartment showing cancel on me when he called, so I was happy to swing over. After a tour, I decided that I liked it a lot and wanted an application. I dropped off a credit report and then took the application home. I filled it out, and emailed it off the next morning. About two hours later, I got a call from the property manager telling me I had gotten it.
Anyhow, I am super excited. I can't wait to move in. I went over this morning, looked around once more, and then signed the lease. I move in on August 1st.