I recently moved to SF, and I want to share with you semi-struggles I encountered along the way. I hope this will help make life a little easier for those who are moving to the city. I started looking at listings on multiple websites two months before my move-in date. Apparently, that is not necessary. The best bet is to check listings one week before your move-in with your roommate. Some agencies require "all" roommates or people who are planning to live in the unit. Plan ahead and plan to meet at the same location. Coordinate!
Just a note, I already had a roommate and was looking for a two bedroom, one bath roommate apartment. I am not sure whether that is important or not in this post.
Always be alert for scams. Here are a few tips to double check.
1. Know Who You Are Speaking With
When looking online, be aware of spams. Be careful! I came across two while looking. They tend to ask for your payment to hold a spot rather than asking you to view the area first (they don't have the keys, silly, and quite obvious). Just google the person's name, do the basics social media search (LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, etc). If you come across something similar online (which I did), reconfirm by emailing the real estate.
Here are two examples I encountered. It looks legit but notice the last two paragraphs and their email addresses.
Always double check where or not a listing is real with another agent in charge of the units. It doesn't hurt to ask! It will save you a lot of trouble. Note you see the BRE # which I will explain next.
2. Check For Their License
Make sure they are licensed if they aren't the owners. Look for BRE#; this is their real estate license. They usually provide at the end of the descriptions in most listings. You can get check if they are qualified as real estate agent in California here.
3. Confirm Whether It Is A Real or Fake Company
Try to find out if the company is registered or renewed. Go to Business Search provided by California Secretary of State. Look for the business owners and do some more basics searches.
Stay alert, look for clues. I hope this short read will help anyone looking for housing and good luck!