Adventures on Craigslist
No, not those kind of adventures, Mr. Casual Encounters. We’re talking about house hunting.
There are many online apartment-finding services (StreetEasy, Naked Apartments, HotPads, to name a few) but good ol’ Craigslist is still the free and comprehensive resource for finding a new place to live, especially if you don’t feel like springing for hidden fees. We decode a few terms, dispel a few myths, and show you how to spot a broker in hiding.
RED-FLAG CRAIGSLIST PHRASES:
Mint: This word is used often, ostensibly to evoke the idea of “new” without actually saying “new.”
Cozy: “Cozy” means small. Minifridge small. Prison-cell small. Give it a real second thought if the image attached is taken with a fisheye or panoramic lens.
Sweet/Cute/Adorable: If the listing contains adjectives that could also describe a puppy or kitten, odds are it will be a dump.
Live/Work Space or Artist’s Loft: Walls? Kitchen? Working toilet? Don’t count on it. Do count on the possibility of living underground.
Students Welcome: See “Cozy.”
Will Go Fast/Must See: This is not a summer blockbuster, it's your potential home, and if the landlord needs to instill a sense of urgency, the place has been sitting for a while.
Steps away from nightlife/gym/restaurants/transportation: The person who wrote this listing has never seen the apartment or visited the neighborhood.
You would have to be cr8zy not to take these digs: No comment.
JR 1 Bedroom: Don’t kid yourself, you’re going to view a stu-stu-studio.
To Fee or Not to Fee
Savvy Craigslisters know to search only the “By Owner” listings, which are less likely to incur fees. However, many, many listings in the section are really brokers in disguise. Here are a few tips for spotting them:
1. Writes “text me for details.”
2. Posts fuzzy, generic photos of an apartment pulled from Google Images.
3. USES ALL CAPS and !!!!!!
4. Something on the listing is blinking.
5. Under “Fee Disclosure” lists a “processing fee” (read: broker fee), “low fee” (broker fee), or “NO FEE” (except for their broker fee, of course).
6. Excessive superlatives and marketing words (“phenomenal deal,” “a true gem,” “stunning views,” “in the heart of [insert desirable neighborhood here]”).
7. When you call, does not know the exact address of the property, also offers to show you other apartments in the area that he or she just happens to know about offhand.