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Abbey, Other/Just Looking in San Francisco, CA

Need light shed on SF Rental process

Asked by Abbey, San Francisco, CA Mon Sep 8, 2008

I'm relocating from Chicago and have been surprised with the competitiveness of renting in SF so far. A couple of the properties I liked had 5-10 applications by the time the open house was over, and I'm wondering how the rental companies pick their final candidates. Is it 100% who has the highest credit score, highest income, etc? How do they select if candidates have similar financial situations?

People on this board may gaffe at this.....but has anyone tried offering additional security deposits, higher rent or even (don't laugh) some sort of bribe to the rental agent? Clearly I'm feeling desperate. I have good credit and my roommate and I together make 4x the monthly rent, but am worried about not getting anything that I've applied for. Any personal experiences or tips would help.

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Jim Rudoff’s answer
As a landlord and former tenant in San Francisco, I completely disagree with Lynn's answer, and it shows the importance of talking to LOCAL resources for anything related to real estate.

Because of San Francisco's rent control, many landlords PREFER housemate situations for exactly the reason that Lynn shuns them: turnover. In San Francisco, turnover is a good thing, as it allows you to keep the rent closer to the market price.

Also, the reality of the rental market is that it's very difficult for single people to afford anything nice here, so it's very common even for professional adults to live together. Additionally, San Francisco has a higher percentage of single people than Dallas. I'd rather rent to adults in a stable, friendly relationship who each earn their own income than a family depending on one income whose children might damage the property.

As far as specific suggestion go, I don't have much to offer. We are limited by law as to how much we can charge for anything that could be perceived as a deposit, and in a hot market, many landlords are already asking the maximum. However, you can offer higher rent or a finder's fee (either of which is essentially a legal bribe, but would be one that operates within market principles).

Also, don't discount the personal connection factor. Like me, many landlords in San Francisco only own one or two rental properties. San Francisco has a large number of 2- to 6-unit Victorians, and many of us live upstairs or downstairs from our tenants. This means that while I do look at the financials, I'm also thinking about who's going to make a good neighbor. Don't discount the importance of making a personal connection. Recognize that San Francisco is a far more liberal city than Chicago or Dallas. If you come across as uptight, unfriendly, or -- God forbid -- litigious, you're going to keep losing out because we San Franciscans have a tendency to apply our personal values to what may seem to outsiders as purely business decisions. That's part of the reason many of here and doing what we do, like being a Realtor or small property landlord. I hope it's something you'll come to appreciate, and in the meantime, at least be aware of it and use it to your advantage.

Disclaimer: This information is purely personal insight from my own experience and is not in any way professional advice. (It's probably better.)

Best of luck to you. Yes, you'll still need that. And feel free to call or email me if you would like to chat.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 11, 2008
Thanks Lynn - that does help and I hadn't thought of roommates in that perspective before. Good to know!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008
I have been in the leasing business for over 20 years here in Dallas, same applies here as a tenant agent, HOWEVER if you have a roommate most landlords PREFER NOT to lease roommates I own 25 properties shy away from a roommate suitation. YES PAYING MORE, higher deposits could work, however roommates are more transit vs. families who stay longer in a property. HOPE THAT HELPS, GREAT QUESTION.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 8, 2008
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