Got most of the furniture, right now all we need is a bed frame(waiting for it to go on sale on Ikea), a chest of drawers, and a dining table/chairs. We have the couch purchased and just waiting for it to arrive and plenty of everything else. So far the apartment is really starting to look good. The kitchen is all put together with the decor stuff starting to get hung up and the TV stand and TV are placed with an area rug in front of them.
My innitial thought is that perhaps they did this to prevent having to deal with spam accounts posting in the forum. They have a large audience, some of which you know what you can sell them. This makes them a very tasty target for spam accounts.
Yes, all types of gear and items, barring those in the HoT expansion. You may have some difficulty getting the gear from group activities because of the moving playerbase and some of the communication difficulties, but it is certainly possible.