I’m apartment hunting. The best friend and roommate is leaving to San Francisco in a few short weeks and I am left on the prowl for my next digs. She’s done a lot for me, inspired me to get tattoos that I’m still too afraid to commit to, educated me on the art of how cutting big pieces of sushi in half with chopsticks – this is something I believe she picked up in her home state of Colorado. Be wary of seafood practices created in a landlocked state. She’s shared her precious pup, Kaiyuh, which is great because I get all the love and none of the responsibility. It’s like being an aunt or uncle. You can love on her and play to your heart’s content, but then pass the buck on “taking care of her” just like you’d pass the baby when the diaper needs changing. By now we communicate more in our own high pitched language of moans, squeaks and little kid speak that resembles the characters on Rugrats. I’m sure it’s annoying to the rest of the world, but we’ve long surpassed the point of recognition or consideration for others' ears. My gal Nichole is leaving on a jet plane, thus leaving me with the task of finding a new apartment. House hunting is one of those actions that’s like an emotional oxymoron of sorts. It evokes the seemingly opposite or unrelated feelings of excitement as well as dread and panic all at once.
And since I’ve begun the task of scouring for vacancies I can’t help but be dumbfounded at how lazy, non-existent or downright unappealing landlords make their apartment listings appear. Let’s take this gem for example:
The description tells me little more than the price and general area of my search. Upon viewing the full listing, it tells me the address and when I can move in. Contact Ray for more details – I’d love to! (I think to myself) but Ray has chosen to not leave a phone number or email to reach him by! I also have no idea what the place will look like, as there are no pictures. Though it is commendable that his psychic powers knew that my major priority was how close the apartment is to food resources and busses to get there.
At least Ray was smart enough to list his space on Craigslist. After only returning a few hits a day for my criteria, I abandoned the internet and spent two hours driving around the neighborhood I’m looking to live to find droves of vacancy signs posted outside apartment buildings. This was a fun test in multi-tasking as I drove up and down streets with a pen clenched in my teeth, pulling over every few feet to use my x-ray vision on deciphering the size 12 font of vacancy listings that hung on placards above building entryways. After an afternoon of pulling over, writing down phone numbers and checking my rearview mirror periodically to make sure I wasn’t blocking traffic, I realized just how inefficient and archaic this all seemed for the poor apartment seeker.
It would seem commonsense enough that providing basic details and a little incentive would get renters more apartment seekers knocking on their door. Tell me the basic information, give me a visual of what I’m in for, and tell me why it’s worth my while. I’m going to make a chart. Because charts are legit. It's a funnel.
The fact that most renters neglect these basic steps only implies that they don’t care enough about their product, which sends up red flags on the character and quality of the apartment and its management. I think this last point can be true for a lot of product advertisers. I won’t be calling Ray and his apartment shrouded in secrecy. Guess who I did call? The lovely couple who listed their apartment on Craigslist replete with details and images, have a flyer with images, renter benefits and contact information in front of the house, and a lovely answering message that tells me all about the apartment I’m interested in before clicking over to the beep. What’s more, I’m actually excited about it rather than filled with dread and panic.