Following the lead of many other consumer activities, apartment hunting has gone on-demand mobile, which sometimes can be a very good thing.
The time frame for looking for an apartment to rent is all in the hands of the mobile consumer.
At the beginning of my son’s college semester that started a few months ago, it dawned on him (a little on the late side) that it was time to find an apartment for his next session at the University of Vermont.
After much online research by a group family effort, including many frantic calls to numerous apartment buildings throughout Burlington the week before school was to start, we found that all the returning students already had rented all the available apartments in town. He concluded there were no options.
After having paid the tuition, his parents decided there had to be an option. While my son and I agreed he should stay home Saturday night to pack for school that started Monday, dad would be the advance man headed to Burlington in search of an apartment.
The objective: find an apartment to rent on that Sunday and get my son moved in as soon as possible that week.
During the several-hour drive to Burlington, I used my trusty ApartmentGuide app from Primedia making several, one-tap calls to helpful realtors and apartment managers in Burlington. The app uses location technology and lists and sorts apartments with costs and instant phone contacts.
Through a realtor contacted via the app, I arranged a Saturday night viewing of a long-shot option, a worn-down apartment very far from the school, which we immediately ruled as the very last option. Although at that point, it was the only option.
Awaiting my son’s arrival at breakfast in Vermont Sunday morning, I was checking my Craigslist app and boom!, in the middle of breakfast a new listing appeared for an apartment that was relatively near the school.
My son arrived and had seen the same listing appear on the Craigslist Web site, which he had been monitoring from his smartphone (not while driving, I’m sure).
We finished breakfast and made the call. No answer the first time, so we left a message. In the car, we called again and he answered the phone.
He apologized for not answering earlier, but said his cell service in town was sketchy near his home and he just happened to be in a good cell area when he answered.
It turned out he was nearby, so he gave us the address of the apartment and we agreed to meet there.
While checking out the apartment, the landlord’s phone kept ringing and based on the parts of the conversations we heard, the calls were from others regarding the apartment.
The landlord told us a previously agreed-upon renter never showed up when promised, so the landlord decided that morning to put it back up for rent. He also lamented that he didn’t really know much about his cell phone and that he only answered calls when he had service when the phone rang.
He said he had been getting a lot of calls, but they were all going to voice mail, which he confessed he didn’t know how to use, so he just ignored them.
The apartment was in perfect rental condition and we signed a lease within an hour of seeing it. An hour later we were renting a trailer to retrieve my son’s furniture, which we had placed in local storage after he moved from a different apartment the previous semester.
A few hours later, he was all moved in and set to start school the next day.
All it takes is a good mobile app or two -- and a little luck.