Craigslist, the Wild West of Ithaca’s Rental Market

14 05 2014

4-8-2013 175

All of the apartments I have ever lived in, I have found through Craigslist. I’ve explored the markets in Ithaca, Albany and the New York City area, and for the most part, I’d say the results were positive.

Sometimes, when I glance at Ithaca development projects, I look at the Ithaca branch of Craigslist postings. Where we once had those cute little printed apartment guides and phone books, now we have a website that shares housing ads with space occupied with postings for old CRT TV stands, scuzzy photos of human anatomy, and the inevitably creepy missed connections. Some of Ithaca and Tompkins County’s smaller projects, the token single-families, duplexs and triplexes that are the bread and butter of the community, are hardly noted in more prominent publications, and barely mentioned in bureaucratic paperwork.  It’s easier to find renderings and so forth through Craigslist (I’m lazy, and just use the keyword “new”, which seems to catch a lot of them).

With that acknowledgement of utility, I still roll my eyes at some of the ads. There’s no real policing of the ads beyond extreme instances, so looking for housing becomes a case of caveat empetor. Some don’t need policing so much as a proofreader, being a schoolteacher’s nightmare of horrific spelling and grammar (especially the dreaded ALL CAPS), but there’s a few out there that are just an outright crock. But someone new to the Ithaca market won’t know that.

To avoid confrontation, I’m not going to link to the culprits. But they’re easy enough to find.

I’ll use my keyword for example: new. There’s one local rental agency that uses the phrase “brand new” to describe a townhouse complex built in 2003. According to them, by care-worn boat of a car is “brand new” (and worth about two months of their rent), as are the Iraq War and rapper 50 Cent‘s first album.

Another example – describing any house as being “in Ithaca” when it’s actually in Newfield, Dryden or Caroline. The most egregious offenders aren’t even in Tompkins County. On a related note,  advertising a house on Coddington Road as “urban living” won’t fool anyone so long as they make an effort to visit the place.

Then we have adjective abuse, which isn’t a new thing but it merits every ounce of scorn it receives. Luxurious is the biggest offender, but affordable is rapidly catching up to it (resulting in the facepalm-worthy phrase “affordable luxury”). We also have “contemporary”, “upscale”, and even “trendy” pokes its ugly head every now and then.

While writing this entry up, I found something especially cringe-worthy, at least for me. Two photos of an apartment being advertised, which I have separated from their post out of politeness. Unless someone happened to rent the same unit and use the same shower curtain, that photo is from when I lived there during 2008-2010. The bedroom photo was my room. In fact, the desk on the left could very well be the exact same one from which I wrote the first post for this blog. Feel free to hate the bedroom color, I shared the room and we were trying to make each room its own color; this one had the soap opera name “Dylan Verdant”. I’m kinda surprised the room is still that color, since that was one of the reasons we left that apartment with our security deposit much, much lighter than when we moved in (the day we learned to have written and signed consent; on the bright side, I’ve always received my full deposit back ever since).

The last thing I’ve learned from Craigslist is that some folks make a veritable mint on graduation weekend. Looking there now, I see 2 nights in a home for $850, a three-night stay in a Cayuga Heights home for $1800 (for 2015, it’s already rented for 2014), and a few places going for more reasonable values of $150-200 per night. Now that’s what I call a vacation fund.


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