Friday, June 26, 2009

Flagstaff apartments for rent -- resources if you're moving here

Some of you asked me why it was so hard to find Flagstaff apartments. Why?? Because scammers have infiltrated the Flagstaff apartments section on Craigslist, slapping up photos of model-homes at extremely low prices, skewing my idea of what type of place you can get for how much.

There were a ton of "amazing deals" on Flagstaff apartments. They all wanted me to fill out a credit report before even talking to me.

"Demand has been really high for this! So fill out this FREE credit report online. And if you qualify, we'll get back to you."

Um, go to a strange website and type in my social security number? No thanks.

Then I started noticing coincidences in the Flagstaff apartments ads. All the Flagstaff apartments that looked swank didn't have local addresses. Or any address at all. A phone number was never included, only an email. And the ads were all overly accommodating. Pets? Horrendous credit? No problem! None of them had phone numbers, directions, or people I could actually talk to. Hmmm. Oh, and the ads often implored EVERYONE to apply. "No credit checks! We promise to love you no matter what. We just want your social security number!"

I started seeing the same photos reappear all over the Flagstaff apartments listing on Craigslist. I got suspicious and began doing a search on email addresses and/or text in the ad and suddenly found the same ads all over the country. The text was often edited but the photos were the same.

The New York Times writes about this in "Renters Get Swindled and Scammed":
"One of the most pervasive scams is a keys-for-cash gambit. Carried out online where almost all rental transactions begin these days, this ploy separates would-be renters from their money before they so much as set foot inside a dwelling. In this scheme, information and pictures from legitimate rental or sales listings are lifted from other sites and reposted under another name at an eye-poppingly low rent.

"Web sites like Craigslist warn of fraud in very large letters, but in the desperate search for an apartment, many otherwise reasonable people overlook the caveats."

[snip]

“Sometimes,” said Mr. Malin of Citi Habitats, “you meet someone at a building and they say they’re having trouble getting into the apartment that was in the listing, so they show you something else in the building and they get you all excited about the one you can’t get into, and ask you for cash on the spot without even a credit check or application.”

[snip]

"One of the most widespread and frequently undetected hustles nvolves collecting nonrefundable application fees from prospective renters.

"The grifters “have the keys to a vacant apartment and hold an open house there, not intending to rent to anyone,” said Bob Brooks, an agent at Century 21 NY Metro. “It’s usually a crazy deal, like a one-bedroom on Greenwich Street for $1,750 that should really be $3,100. So they get a hundred application fees because everyone who sees it, wants it. Application fees could be $50 to $250, but I’ve definitely heard of clients giving $500, or $1,000 or even a month’s rent in cash.”

"Many would-be renters never know that they have been deceived.

[snip]

"“Over the last couple of years, we’ve had a steady drumbeat of complaints from people who’ve been victimized and lost money, as well as from some who sniff it out in time and want to report it,” said Paul Bresson, a spokesman for the F.B.I., which runs the Internet Crime Complaint Center (http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx) jointly with the National White Collar Crime Center."
If you see something fishy on Craigslist, you can flag it. Many of these apartment ads do not stay up for more than a few hours before they're reported but that may be all it takes to get a few suckers.

Beware of giving out your social security number to anyone. You must see the apartment first, no matter HOW nice it appears. You have no idea if the train runs through the living room or if it's saturated in cat urine. (And trust me, train noise in Flagstaff can be a BIG problem, so you DO want to know about location.)

Here's some examples of SCAM Flagstaff apartments ads I saw (screenshots from Craigslist). Notice how beautiful (and cheap) they are??
click to enlarge

Flagstaff apartment inventory is not full of brand new, huge, cheap apartments, as these ads would have you believe. If you DO rent something new and/or remodeled, it's going to cost a LOT more than the ads above.

Here's a list I put together of resources to find an apartment in Flagstaff. I condensed it from notes gathered over weeks. I haven't seen any other site quite like this that lists all the Flagstaff apartments in one spot so wanted to post this and help others who are relocating to Flagstaff.

Flagstaff apartment resources:
  • Craigslist Flagstaff apartments for rent.

  • The Arizona Daily Sun classified Flagstaff apartments for rent.

  • Flagstaff-apartments.com -- these are 8 properties in Flagstaff owned by the same property manager. The lady speaking in each video is annoying so you might want to mute your volume before you visit this site. The pictures, however, are useful.

  • Flaglips.com -- These are all properties owned by Levitan Investment Properties (you can tell they have a sense of humor from the abbreviation "lips" ha). Most of these are in the desireable West side of downtown and seem ideal for students.

  • Pollack Properties - a local real estate place that lists private rentals. (This link takes you directly there.)

  • Sun Mountain Properties - same as above.

  • Dallas Real Estate - same as above two -- click on "Our Rentals" and scroll to long-term (those are cheaper). (Unless you want something just for the summer.)

  • Apartments for rent in Flagstaff - It was hard to find one place that listed all the actual apartment complexes, but this one comes close (it's ApartmentRatings.com). It has 39 listings and also includes reviews. Here's another link w/similar info from ApartmentReviews.com if you want to compare reviews of what people said about apartments in Flagstaff.)

  • Flagstaff info on CityData.com (scroll past the photos for demographics).

  • Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce relocation guide - You have to call to order the hard-copy version of this and it costs $15. Includes things to do in & around Flagstaff, the city's major apartment complexes and a good street map listing stores. (But you may not need it because I'm including much of this info here on my list.)

  • Flagstaff street map

  • Flagstaff calendar of events (it might take some time to load but you can scroll right to what's happening by date.) Includes what's going on in the area, as well as neat things to do & explore while here.
Flagstaff is broken up into an east side (near the mall) and a west side (near all the shops, restaurants and NAU).

The Flagstaff population is pretty small -- about 60,000 -- so traveling from one side to the other is no big deal but locals often say they almost never travel to the opposite side. Traffic down South Milton is unpleasant in the summer but nowhere near as bad as what I've seen back home in DC. (Depending on where you're coming from, this statement will either scare you or comfort you!)

If you're moving to Flagstaff, try to avoid the region around Blackbird Roost and 4th Avenue. Those are the ones that seem to appear in the police blotter for minor theft (things missing from porches, etc.). Crime in Flagstaff doesn't appear to be huge. It seems safer than other cities, but this area does attract some vagrants and I was told the city is now trying to police the woods & FUTS (Flagstaff Urban Trail System) to make sure no one sets up camp illegally. Another thing I didn't expect about Flagstaff was the very laid-back hippie-type of population. It's a fun town for sure.

I hope this was useful. Enjoy your move to Flagstaff!

2 comments:

Fancy Schmancy said...

My sister had the same problem in Phoenix. She moved out there with her fiance thinking they could rent a beautiful 3 bedroom home with a pool for dirt cheap, and ended up with a 900 sq ft apartment in a sprawling complex for almost as much as her mortgage was in Connecticut.

apartment in gainesville fl said...

Thank you to tell us so much useful information. So nice sharing. I’m glad to read it.

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