This was originally published on March 27, 2023 back when this newsletter was on Tinyletter. It's quick, rough, and perhaps in need of an edit. I hope you enjoy it in its full, messy glory.
I’m desperately searching for housing. Why is this so hard? We’re normal!
In the past, I’ve worked closely with one real estate agent at a time. It’s usually some freelance person who makes a living off commissions they get from placing tenants with rental properties. They’re all “entrepreneurs” selling properties to home buyers, day-trading, selling crypto, etcetera, etcetera. Sorry to be a capitalist apologist, but I’ve had lots of great experiences so far and have been surprised with how much these people care about my quality of life after they place me.
I’ve become good acquaintances with a Filipina real estate agent in Las Vegas who has recently added installing solar panels to properties (and, I’m sure, taking home a pretty commission) to her list of gigs. She took my weird queer family with our mish mash of credit and income and vowed to find us a place to live - touring strange abandoned McMansions in the Vegas suburbs and telling us about first-time property buyer programs and how one time a magic rock in her pocket protected her from a creepy pervert. She worked with us for months - seeing us through multiple failed applications and fruitless house tours. It came to a point that I wondered why she kept working with us - that she’d surely squandered hours of work to income ratio.
Over the phone, I trusted a queer dude to help us find an apartment in a city I’d never been in. This was when we decided to make the jump from Vegas to Chicago, sight unseen. I facetimed Queer Agent as he walked through what few apartments we might be able to get with four roommates and only one real job between us. He helped us build an application that would get us into the apartment we currently live in now - it may or may not have included a few white lies to make us look more appealing. And now I’m in Chicago! Months later, I fisted him until he screamed. Lots of fun.
You could see that this dynamic is set up mostly at the tenant’s detriment. There are, I’m sure, agents who mechanically put tenants in buildings - egging them on against their better knowledge, against the tenants’ best instinct, into horrible apartments just to get a commission. But, instead, I’ve been relatively lucky. My agents have access to properties I can’t find on my own and have been friendly. They’ve advised me against applying for easy-to-get-into spots because they smell woodrot, notice the floor is completely crooked, that there is secretly an overbearing landlord, or once because she detected a ghost in the house.
This time around, I’m using like 5 different agents of varying quality. It feels strange, though, because I feel like I’m cheating. I’m working closely with a few of them, building a rapport, talking about our lives. Just like in dating, some of them are duds - sending me listings of ugly ass apartments that barely match what I need, three neighborhoods away from where I want to be.
But with a few others, I’ve felt that spark of friendship. Guys, sorry, I love friends. I love looking into an eager stranger’s eyes and talking as if we’ve been friends forever, as if we will be friends forever. It’s part romantic, part platonic, and mostly just fun. Who wants to sit in a car with a strange fuddy duddy and hop from apartment to apartment in complete silence? Or worse - in a painfully boring conversation?
One of the agents I’m working with now is one of my favorite kinds of people - a swaggy Latino man with a pumped up chest who talks about his spiritual journey, eagerly lobs compliments at me, and talks earnestly about apartments that look cute and apartments that are not-so-cute. Also, he’s the stepfather of a really attractive Hollywood actor and Facetimed him unprompted in the middle of a car ride to prove it and/or impress me. I was impressed! I love when hot men are stepfathers to other hot men.
He’s been super helpful, but at this point I’m a little desperate and it seems like every real estate agent has access to different properties that the others don't. I’m casting as wide a net as possible - going through scammy craigslist ads from AirBnB hosts who claim to be moving to Spain, ghosty sublets on Facebook marketplace, and at my most desperate - browsing Zillow. It feels like I’m dating all of these agents at once, promising them a commission while working with other agents. But, like many a shady, non-ethically non-monogamous people in the past - I’m not looking for a relationship, really. I’m just trying to find a place to sleep for the night. I’m a hobosexual.