The Day Before We Rented a House
January 18, 2020
The day before yesterday, all the boys except David (Will, Ed, Peter, Jack, and I) went to several house showings that Peter organized. Next year we’re all going to be living together in the same house in Boston, and we all wanted to work together to choose the place. In the end, the place kind of chose us, but I’ll get to that in a second.
It was really cold that day, but since we were meeting up for the first showing at 1pm and it was 12pm, I decided to try biking to the spot to get a feel for the distance since I would probably be biking this route just about every day next year. Unfortunately, I was stupid and took a really inefficient route that went against traffic the whole time and I got blasted by a lot of wind. In the end, I barely even made it to the house on time.
The boys were waiting on the sidewalk outside the first place when I jogged over from where I parked my bike, and we greeted each other and then greeted the broker Josh Bryan when he walked over. From the outside, this house was basically a cube with a couple windows on it, and the lawn was littered with cigarette butts. The interior was pretty standard, and it had more of a dorm building layout than a house with a bunch of friends in it. Josh said that this unit was usually sold as 6 individual rooms, which made sense because the shared living space didn’t feel open and the rooms felt segregated. I couldn’t really see myself being excited to come home to that place, but we figured we’d consider it since it was $980/mo per person (we generally thought something between $800 and $1000 would be good), and we hadn’t even seen any other places yet.
On the way to the second place, Peter’s directions proved faulty due to some detours and Will’s driving was slightly scary since we almost clipped a car, but we eventually got to the destination unscathed. As we pulled up, Josh was standing in the driveway, so I saw him first and then panned my view across to the house. No way was that the house. It looked like a mansion from the outside. We all started chatting excitedly, but tried to temper our expectations because the price was $1125/mo, which is no small feat to pay for college students that don’t even have full-time jobs yet. In fact, for a couple of us, we couldn’t have even afforded to pay the down-payment without asking for a loan from family, and we would all need cosigners to guarantee that we’d get a place like this.
That was the mindset that we all had going into the house, but the moment we stepped into the house, everything changed. The kitchen was immaculate. Marble countertops surround the entire room, and the cabinets had that ivory look that reminded me of the my aunt’s house (a.k.a. they looked expensive). The oven looked as good as new and the fumehood overhead was really classy. Now that was a dream kitchen.
The next thing we noticed was the patio. There was a small but cute deck with a slatted roof and several chairs, and even though it was covered in leaves I could already imagine all the potential for great times out there. There was even a grill on the patio, but I think it belonged to the current tenants; if we got the place, we would probably try to take it off their hands for cheap. Just thinking about grilling out there and hanging out with everyone made us all extremely eager–and there was so much more house to see!
On the other side of the house was the connected living room and dining room. The space was so massive that they had an L-shaped couch with 5 or 6 sections and it wasn’t even half the length of the space. There was a huge TV across the room from the couch and an opulent crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The dining table was solid hardwood, too. They had two minifridges below the dartboard, which was adorned with the Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” album cover art, and was coated with not corkboard but actual halved corks on the inside. Whoever the current tenants were, they did not mess around when it came to furnishing the place, and it definitely enhanced our experience during the showing.
Josh led us downstairs to the basement, and even after seeing all that crazy stuff on the first floor, I was still expecting to just see a cellar down there that’s mainly used for storage, but it’d be a plus if there was a laundry setup. Well if you took a left at the bottom of the stairs that would be what you’d find, except that there were two washer-dryer sets. On the right side of the basement was a full dance-floor area with a stage… This place was ridiculous! We were convinced that this must be a shared basement with the other house that is attached on the north side of the lot, but later we found out that it is in fact a private basement and it is, in fact, ridiculous.
As we started walking up one of the two staircases to the second floor, we realized just how nice this house was. At the bottom of the stairs was a guest bathroom. A GUEST BATHROOM! Those are tiny bathrooms the size of a closet that only have a toilet and sink for guests to use at a party without having to go upstairs into the private area. I thought those only existed in super expensive mansions that I’ve seen in video tours on YouTube. And now we were seeing one in this house that we were considering renting–I was in a trance.
At the top of the stairs, we saw the first bedroom, and it was definitely spacious, about the size of my current abode. Except this room had a private bathroom with a shower. In fact, five of the six bedrooms upstairs had an attached private bathroom! There was also a large shared bathroom with two showers that the sixth person could use since theirs wouldn’t be attached. And all of these bathrooms were beautiful. The master bedroom was enormous, and the attached master bathroom had a separate bath and shower. The walk-in closet in that room held more clothes than probably all of our wardrobes combined. It was packed with hanging shirts like a clothing rack at Macy’s, which disguised how large the closet actually was. We joked–even though it was entirely true–that we could all live in this one room comfortably, then rent out all the other rooms.
Once we’d seen the whole house, Josh told us everything about the renting process for this place. Apparently, the house was on the market as of the previous day because the current tenants were late in resigning for the coming year. He warned us that the current tenants could resign at any time and they’d have first priority. He also said that this house does not usually change hands and when it does it gets snatched up really quickly, but I’m not sure how much of that information was just trying to convince us to close the deal quickly. Well, if that was the tactic, then it totally worked because we all basically knew that this was the place we wanted, and once we knew there’d be competition we started thinking of all the ways that we could pay for it just so we could live in this mini-mansion.
Needless to say, our eyes were glazed over at the three remaining showings and there’s almost no way that anything could top this place and we all knew it. Even Josh knew he had us by the balls and it was only a matter of time before we messaged him saying we wanted to start doing the forms. It’s not really worth talking about the other three showings, but the long and short of it is that the first one was a dump, the second one was off the market apparently, and the third one was acceptable but it didn’t make us feel like we were living in a dream so it couldn’t even begin to compete. To be fair, that last one was actually a great value, at only $750/mo per person with a spacious kitchen plus dining room plus living room area. But the place just felt tired and dark, and when we compared that to the bright, beautiful house we had seen only three hours earlier, we just couldn’t get excited about it.
At this point, we were all doing mental accounting. Could we afford $1125/mo, because we had all basically decided that amazing house was the only place we wanted to live. As we drove back to Peter’s apartment, played some darts and ate some pasta, we were all pumping each other up about working our butts off to get rich so we could afford this place. And that was actually what was so magical about the place: The place was already inspiring us to work hard, so we knew that if we lived there we would really push ourselves. And that was our goal.
The only problem was the down-payments. We knew that we would work hard between now and September to have a full-time job or at least a bunch of money saved up so we could afford rent. But the down-payment schedule would be a challenge for a couple of us, because it required us to pay four months’ rent in the next four months. We racked our brains about how we could pay it, but then we decided to just ask if we could pay just the deposit, lock in the house, and then pay the other three down payments in the three months leading up to September. And that son of a gun, Josh Bryan said it was fine and he’d write it into the lease! That would give us all plenty of time to get our stuff together so we could make consistent payments. After that, we confirmed it with David, and it was on.
Shortly after I woke up yesterday, Peter messaged our group chat and informed us that Josh Bryan, the real estate broker that showed us the house, told him that the owners would be showing the house later that day. If we wanted to get the house off the market and make sure we got the house, we each had to be prepared for a $1125 deposit, fill out the deposit and application forms, and if possible, get cosigners for the cosigner form.
Seeing as none of us had full-time jobs yet, we knew that having the cosigner forms was the only way to make sure that we got the place. For a couple of us, it would be harder than for others to come up with the money right away, and to convince a family member to cosign.
Small rant about the website that we used to digitally sign the forms: if you’re a CS student or you make webapps and apps, be extra careful that when something has to do with legal issues, don’t ship something that doesn’t work on most browsers and on most devices! The website that the broker sent us to sign the forms has some proprietary web application intended just for signing those rental forms. And yet apparently, for one of the forms that we had to sign, no matter how many times I tried on desktop and mobile browser, I was never able to type in the fields. I actually had to download the app in order to fill out that form (I guess that could be how they get most of their business / traffic).
In any event, there were some complications but we were all able to get our deposit forms and our application forms in, and the house was taken off the market! That is, if we get approved for the house by the owner, then we would have successfully rented it. And hopefully since most of us were able to get the cosigner forms in, that will help on that front as well.
Boy I hope we get it!