Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Rental Hacks: How to find a place in a tough market

June 29, 2011

We’re moving from Washington DC to Flagstaff AZ, and needed to rent a place while we figured out what we might buy.

The rentals tend to be aimed at students, but the huge student population (1/3 of the town’s people are students) pushes prices up and quality down. There’s nothing we’d like to rent.

We had an idea, and it worked, so I’m writing it up here in case it’s useful to someone.

We looked at houses that were for SALE, wrote them nice letters in the mail (11 letters sent, only to houses we liked) and asked them if they’d rent to us.

11 sent
4 letters bounced
7 got read
3 replies
2 nos
1 yes.

YES!

So now we’re in a great house, at a reasonable price. A few advantages to this approach:

* no competition from other renters
* not dealing with professional rental agencies
* opens up a totally new market for places to rent
* houses for sale are usually in good shape
* houses for sale have extensive pictures, unlike rentals

One tip: This works best with houses that are for sale where the house is empty. Otherwise, you’re dealing with a very unpredictable timeline – they can’t move out until they find a new house.

Walmart Karma

September 25, 2009

We went camping a few weeks ago, and realized the kids could play on the deck of the cabin if we had a child’s gate. We needed one for our deck at home as well, so why not buy it now?

There was a Walmart nearby, so I headed there with a friend and we started comparing gates. I chose a nice wooden gate and put it in the cart, but later changed my mind and swapped it out for a plastic one, since it would be living outside.

As we were checking out, I noticed a plastic bag of screws. It must have fallen out of the wooden gate when it was in the cart. I could have run back and put it back in the gate, but I didn’t. I told the clerk what had happened, and asked if she could make sure it got back there. I even told her “it’s important, it would suck if someone bought the gate and took it home without the screws.”

I said those words.

Two days later, I returned the plastic gate (not wide enough) and got a nice wide wooden model instead.

Yep.

No screws.