While searching for apartments I realized that the standard procedure goes: Landlord/Renter posts apartment listing, person searching for apartment finds it, then they call and arrange to see it, and potentially sign a lease.
This system is a holdover from newspaper advertising. I remember scanning the classifieds looking for places to rent about ten years ago. So today I want to consider the drawbacks of this system, and also consider the inverse.
One of the main drawbacks here is that after an apartment is rented, the landlord is often lazy and doesn’t want to take down the post. This means that they probably get lots of phone calls for apartments that aren’t available, and it also means that as a person searching it is frustrating to call and hear “The apartment is taken.” Additionally, many landlords seek out specific people– young couples, quiet people, students, etc. So while they can write that the apartment is best for, say, students, it won’t preclude many other people from inquiring.
So now let’s consider the inverse–
What if the onus were on landlords to seek out potential renters. The system would be reversed. Renters would post online and hope to be called by landlords.
It’s not clear that this is a completely viable option, nor that it would always work. The system in place is so engrained that I’m not sure it would. I do, however, think it is a good mental exercise to consider the inverse. I’d love to be able to post about who I am and what I”m looking for, and be called by potential landlords instead of making tens of phone calls a day and running all over town just to find out that a place is either taken or it doesn’t fit my needs.