When did finding a place to live become so difficult? I am shocked at how challenging it is to find  a good place to rent here in Seattle. When I was in my 20’s living with roommates in NYC, I moved no less than four times in five years. Each time we had to scour the internet for listings, trying to find those not listed by an agent, set up appointments scheduling with the roommates, and show up ready with a check for at least three months’ rent (first, last, security or first and security plus agent fee). It was a competitive market but it was also New York City and since we were in our twenties you can imagine we needed pretty low rent, which put us in the pool with the majority of real New Yorkers also looking for a place to live. MH900431754

I left New York in 2005 and moved in with my now wife who owned her home in Minneapolis. After we got married, we refinanced the house and put my name on it so I was officially a homeowner, too! When we moved to Florida, we rented a nice home until we eventually sold our Minnesota house and bought a new one. We are grownups and thought grownups owned their homes.

Well, no one expected us to be transferred six months after purchasing our home. So we unwittingly became landlords and rented our newly purchased dream home to a nice couple who also works for the same company as my spouse.

Now, here we are in lovely Seattle, in temporary housing with all of our worldly possessions in storage. The clock is ticking and the time left to find a house is running out fast. But here’s what I’m finding: the market here is just like New York, only worse!

NO COMMISSIONS = NO AGENTS
I never thought I would long for the days of agents, but here the renters don’t pay the brokers, so there are few agents who list rentals. And I have not found a single one willing to take us on and help us find a place. At this point, it would be worth a full month’s rent to me to have someone help me find a good place.

1,2,3 GONE!
The market is so saturated with renters that listings for good houses in good neighborhoods at good prices are snatched up the same day. The same day! Many listings now don’t include phone numbers and the owner or listing agent gets so many email responses they don’t have time to even respond to all of them.

DOUBLE DIPPING
What ever happened to 30 days notice? The listings that are posted now are available now. We are looking now but want to start a new lease on May 1. Why aren’t the properties listed before they become available? This basically ensures that we would have to overlap rentals paying rent on both our current place and the next place. Alternatively, we would have to take our chances and wait until the middle or end of April and see what gets listed for our desired move-in date. But because it’s so hard to get a call back, that waiting seems like a real gamble.

SCAMS
I have now been contacted by 2 “owners” who happen to have been relocated out of town and can’t show me the house in person until move-in day but would be happy to take my deposit now. Oh I’m sure you would love that via wire transfer as well, wouldn’t you?

WHAT NOW? I’m trying to stay optimistic. We are ideal tenants. We are a non-smoking family with no pets and good credit and cash in the bank. We are homeowners who know how to properly care for a home. I have to remember to positively visualize us living in the right home for our family and it will happen. I’m using the following sites daily:

Are there other places to find single-family homes for rent in Seattle? What are the insider tips and tricks to get us a good place? 

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