Zillow No More

One of my favorite activities to do with Carter is look at real estate on Zillow. For the last few years, whether we were in the same room or 800 miles apart, we would look at properties together. Mostly it was apartments in Boston as the hope was she would end up staying and working there and get to move from her student apartment. For the record her student apartment was wonderful, but it is a studio and she was surrounded by nothing but students. Of course all of Boston is student filled, but the dream was to move to a less student dense neighborhood.

During the height of the pandemic rental prices dropped to ridiculous low prices as so many people left the city. It would kill us to look at these beautiful units in great neighborhoods at rock bottom prices and know it was too early for Carter to begin looking. But the study of every street and every neighborhood went on.

After Carter got her full time job she knew what her target commute was. She thought she may need to move to Brookline and live in Coolidge Corner. It is a lovely place to live with lots of options. Still some students since BC is close, but not totally students. She went one day after work to look at a unit and got an idea of the commute. Not bad, but also not right in Boston.

She loved the south end, expensive, but lovely. Back bay, narrow as it is bookended by Storrow and the bustling Newbury st. Her dream neighborhood was Beacon Hill. Very residential, but still with grocery and drug stores. Quiet and very few students. It seemed out of reach.

I zillowed every morning and evening looking for new listing to send her. She got a Realtor, who was a friend, she looked online everyday too. Last week her realtor found her a unit in Beacon hill that seemed too good to be true. Three rooms, plus an kitten and bathroom. The bath and kitchen had a lot to be desired, but three good sized other rooms was like a dream. Carter put in an application, but hers was the second one and the unit went to a double income couple. She was despondent.

Her income might not be enough for that neighborhood. She was young, which might be held against her. But she has excellent credit, and good savings from working at Bain Capital and a good rental history from her current spot. I told her not to worry.

She was coming to the realization that it was probably going to be Brookline. Then last Thursday, during my early morning Zillow looking I found a unit in a building on the most desirable street in Beacon Hill. The listing had been up less than an hour. Carter called to ask to see it. They said at 1:00 on Friday. She was so excited, but by ten in the morning Friday she got another call the unit was rented. Was this going to be the way it went? Are people renting units sight unseen? Not the way Carter wanted to go. You can’t tell enough about a building let alone the unit without seeing it. Carter shot the listing agent a nice email telling him that if he had anything else in the neighborhood to call her.

Back on Zillow for me. Then, by some miracle, the agent called Carter back. The first application had been rejected. Could she come see it at 2:30? Thankfully Carter’s job is very flexible she went to see it. She loved it. She filled out an application at four on Friday. The owners had to do back ground/credit checks on her. The agent said it was looking good, but it took until 9:00 am this morning to get the actual word she got the apartment. So much joy from Carter.

She will not move until the summer, but the good news is she does not have to move on September 1, when all of Boston moves. The peace of mind knowing she will be in Beacon Hill is great for us parents. Knowing she has an actual bedroom and a new beautiful kitchen with a dishwasher makes us all happy.

I jokingly told her I don’t know what I am going to do with all my time now that I am not Zillowing multiple times a day. But doing that really paid off because getting to a place first or second was key. Hopefully she will stay there a few years. The next Zillow search will hopefully be to buy, not rent.



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