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My Silver Medal Apartment

June of my sophomore year, I was ready to live by myself. After living with some of my fraternity brothers in a big house for a year — and experiencing everything that goes along with that — I was ready for a quieter living environment.

When I hired my first leasing agent, I was confident that I would find my dream apartment. I walked into the office with checkbook in hand, ready to sign on the spot if I found something I liked. I had procrastinated, so it’s not like I had much choice with the few options that were still available.

At the outset of the tour, my agent, Austin, presented me with paperwork listing some details of the places we would tour. There were five apartments on the list. They were similar in size and in location, in West Campus, and the fluctuations in price were minimal. As we got in Austin’s Mustang, he warned me, “Just a heads up, these places go pretty quickly. If you find something you love, I recommend moving on it.”

I didn’t think much of it, and I just assumed he was filling conversation. If only I had listened.

The first place we visited was nice, but it was over on 28th street in the far corner of West Campus. Also, it wasn’t very nice — the current tenant was a smoker, and the apartment reeked of cigarettes. Bleh.

The second unit was nice. It was in the middle of West Campus on 24th, and came with covered parking. It was spacious and looked comfortable, but the appliances were old and the walls were painted crazy colors: yellow in the kitchen, blue in the living room, green in the bathroom, and brown in the bedroom. It wasn’t bad, but I thought I could do better.

The third unit was beautiful. It was located on 23rd, and was a small condo with about 25 units that each came with covered parking.

The unit was carpeted throughout minus the kitchen and bathrooms, and the appliances were new, and the counters were granite. There was even a fireplace! Everything about the unit felt new, and it wasn’t even the most expensive on the list. It felt like my next apartment. I should have ended the tour there and then.

But I didn’t. I thought, “Eh, why not just finish out the tour? What could possibly happen?”

I don’t even remember what that 4th apartment looked like. I spent the entire time thinking about #3 and how happy we would be together for the next year. I had no idea that in those 30 minutes of touring, somebody turned in an application for my dream apartment and snatched it from under me.

I’m not kidding. That really happened. In less than a half-hour, my dream apartment was taken from me. Just like that.

I ended up living in the crazy-colored apartment for two years. It was a good experience, but I always wondered what might have been if I had only been more decisive…

The only thing I can do is to use this story as an example for others. So take it from me, because I have been there. If you happen to stumble across a place that feels right and works for you financially — make your move! Don’t keep looking, because there is a very real chance that that unit will be gone by the time you come back for it a day later, or even an hour later.

That is no exaggeration. The leasing market in Austin is really that competitive. So don’t make the same mistake I did. If you need more time to decide, then you need to start earlier in the pre-lease season…like October. Don’t be afraid to close on your dream apartment, because I assure you there are dozens of agents and clients touring those same apartments every day. At the end of the day, it comes down to who will be the first to turn in an application and the money. I urge you to consider being the first, lest you want to end up with a silver-medal apartment like me.

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