How we found our Dublin dream flat with only one viewing. This is a guide for finding a flat in Dublin based on our experiences.
In Part Two of our series we explained how you can get to know the specific niche in the renting market you’re interested in. In this part, we’re going to explain how to look at listings efficiently.
Disclaimer: Of course, we were extremely lucky to find our dream flat after only one viewing. Part of the reason we call it our dream flat is also because it is a space which meets our requirements and that we can make ours for it to be our dream flat. We also weren’t in a rush to move out so we got to be picky and research. While our tips can’t guarantee you finding a dream flat in one viewing, perhaps our process can help you speed up your flat searching progress.
A time-saving way of checking listings
Both of us just having started new jobs, we didn’t have much time to spend checking out listings. So, we developed a strategy that helped us increase the efficiency of checking new ads. We had, as explained in the previous blogs, already narrowed down our areas of interest. Hence, we ticked only those neighbourhoods, as well as our price range into the advanced search. Then we bookmarked this link the system gave us. Voila this is your search string you can easily check whenever it suits you, without having to type everything in again or looking through neighbourhoods you’re not interested in.
We checked these specific listings twice daily, once in the morning before we left for work and once after dinner. This was because the properties we were interested in were mostly put up in the evening hours between 6-11pm during the week and between 8am-12pm on weekends. Since there is a lot of competition for flats, especially in popular areas, this strategy helped us to be some of the first people to respond to the listing.
Deciding whether to write a place
We were very selective in which places we would write. We decided to only write places we were seriously interested in viewing or even taking if the opportunity came up. At one point, we even turned down a viewing opportunity because we realized the place – as lovely as it was – was a longer commute than we would settle for.
After a while we got better at deciding which listings we weren’t even going to look at. No pictures? Pass. Can’t see windows? Probably, a flat in a basement, pass. Open viewing? Pass. If we did look at a listening we checked through all our requirements (separate bathroom, big enough fridge and freezer, space of a computer desk etc.), before reading the descriptions.
Finalize the areas
We realized out of all the places we had written to the majority was in the Dublin 8 area but since we had never much been in the area before, we decided to go on a daytrip on the weekend. We took a bus there and just aimlessly strolled around the area, taking a walk through the suburbs. We looked out for public transport stops, the state of buildings and supermarkets. Most importantly however, we wanted to get a good understanding of the general vibe of the area and if it’s somewhere we would feel comfortable living. Overall, it was a nice day out which allowed us to get to know a new area of Dublin, as well. One word of caution with this strategy, however. One of my favourite things about Dublin is how each street seems to have its own unique personality. For example, you may walk down one street, thinking this is perhaps an older area with Victorian redbrick houses but as you turn the corner there is a modern apartment block and one more corner over there may be a suburban lane of semidetached houses in the middle of the city. As you can see, sometimes the vibe of the area may literally come down to the individual street.
Responding to listings
The first place we wrote to we made the mistake of writing a well-crafted letter (cough more like novel cough) about why we were interested in the flat. Considering how many responses places receive, we realized they would have probably decided our message was too much work to read and skipped it.
When a colleague told me she keeps her messages as short as possible, we decided to give it a try and the Monday afterwards we got invited to a viewing. Our template went basically like this:
Hi (insert name),
We are very interested in (insert name of flat) and would like to view it. We’re a professional (engaged/married) couple with permanent jobs. (Person 1) is a (job title) at (company) and (Person 2) is a (job title) at (company). (One short sentence about why we would like to move). We’re non-smokers and don’t have children or pets. We’re happy to provide a reference from our current landlady/lord and other documents if required.
We’re looking forward to hearing from you.
What landlords and landladies are usually looking for is a stable income from a permanent job, since they’re often still paying off a mortgage on the place itself. They also want to make sure you’re not going to lower the value of their property by damaging it. So, we made sure they knew we are non-smokers and don’t have pets who might, for example, damage the sofa.
All our other information we left until we got a response back since those responses usually come with more in-depth questions to create a shortlist for the viewing.
In Part 4 we’ll give you some more finding a flat in Dublin advice for when you get invited to a viewing. What are some important questions to ask and are they really as bad as the news will have you believe?