ALLSTON RAT CITY: REALTORS AND LEASES AND CRAIGSLIST, OH MY!
(This post was originally published June 17, 2016 and appeared on DigBoston.com)
Apartment photo by Kalman Zabarsky, BU Today
This is not a guide or tutorial, because I read some of those and none are relevant if you make under $40k or have somewhat sketchy credit or can’t come up with $3,000 all at once. Also, because I have no idea how to do this, there is no solution: except maybe living in a storage locker and taking my baths in the Hooker Street Playground.
Anyway, renting in Allston sucks and here’s why:
REALTORS, REALTY COMPANIES, REALTOR FEES
Now, I get that everyone has to make a living. I understand that people can’t perform a service as important as finding the four walls within which you will live out your awkward youth and squander your potential without getting something in return, but maybe asking 20-somethings to spend huge chunks of cash for help finding an apartment isn’t the best way. It creates an intimidating, over-saturated and competitive rental market. Dozens of realtors are listing the same properties over and over on rental sites, competing with each other for those commissions. It’s daunting, to say the least, and it can create some self-serving jerks. There are ABSOLUTELY awesome realtors out there. I’ve known some great ones, and lived in some mind-blowingly amazing locations. But figuring out who to trust is really, really hard.
THE SEPTEMBER LEASE CYCLE AND ALLSTON CHRISTMAS
The September lease cycle and Allston Christmas are trying to kill us. I have a recurring nightmare where zombies attack on September 1st and are defeated by pissed-off moms and Syrio Forel saying “Not today death … I have to move this couch up three flights of stairs.”
The fact that leases begin in September makes sense given that the students are most likely the largest group of consumers in the rental market. Thanks to them going home every year we are blessed with hordes of Irish youth taking advantage of the summer sublet that show up every year and never cease to impress drunk girls. Having everyone move on the same day every year is absurd, though. There are too many people and not enough affordable rental property to go around, so we all fight for a few shitty five beds.
CRAIGSLIST IS A LIAR, THE INTERNET HAS FAILED US
Craigslist is completely overrun with scams. If it isn’t a scam, it’s the same listing over and over listed by every single 22-year-old with a realty license. Where the hell are the for-sale-by-owner apartments? I would like one of these, please. Don’t say ‘not in Allston.’ I understand that if I want to live on Winter Hill or in Quincy I can find an apartment lickity split. Clearly I am creating my own problems, but that doesn’t mean it should be this way. How do all my friends have fabulous affordable apartments? Dear friends: let’s pull a Face/Off and I’ll steal your face/life.
There are other options apart from Craigslist, but since they are new they don’t have anywhere near as many listings to choose from and seem to be less of the focus for realtors. Zillow may have gotten a Conor Oberst song for it’s commercial, but it doesn’t make it a reasonable alternative to Craigslist–Bright Eyes can’t make it a viable option for connecting renters to properties.
What we need is a social networking site for apartments; a way for people to be like: “I like cats, you like pizza, we will probably get along as roommates, so, let’s cohabitate. Pizza cats 4 lyf,” without having to sort through the Craigslist scams. I’m sure that even if we got this, it would turn into all scams within a few months anyway.
I don’t profess to be an expert, or know what I’m doing at all. There may be some glaringly simple solution. Apart from telling every realtor I will plug their shit on the Allston Tumblr if they waive my fee and give me a bay window, fireplace, and heat included, I’m pretty sure I’m going to wind up living in a box on the side of the Mass Pike.