Before you begin apartment hunting, you will want to prepare your budget, checklist and questions.
Finding the perfect place to live can be a little harder than people expect.
The home of your dreams is out there, you will just have to do some work to find it.
Your first consideration will be the location you want to live in and what you can afford in that area. Make sure to also think about the type of apartment you are searching for or if you want to live with roommates. There are a lot of decisions that can affect your search, so we came up with some apartment hunting tips to help guide you through the process.
The very first thing you should do before you start apartment hunting is to budget what you will spend on your apartment. This includes your rent, all utilities, groceries and any move-in costs you expect. Also remember any other payments you might have like gas, parking, phone bill, internet, credit cards and any other debts or obligations. It is common practice to keep your rent payments under 30 percent of your monthly income. This allows you to save and plan for your other monthly expenses.
It is important to note that there are amenities that can make an apartment more or less expensive. For example, it is typically cheaper to live in the middle of an apartment building because people will pay more to live on top or bottom floors. Also, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms greatly impacts the price, so consider the amount of space you need to live and don’t go overboard.
If you are having a hard time budgeting what you can spend, a great tool that can help is a rent affordability calculator. This considers what kind of apartment you want and tells you what you can afford based on your income.
Most people like to move during the summer months because the weather is more favorable. During these months, more units are available, but the demand for apartments increases the price. Think about moving during the winter when rent prices are lower and you are more likely to strike a deal.
When you enter any apartment that you are viewing, you should be sure to check for anything the owner might want to hide. First, check inside cabinets and on top of shelves for animal droppings. Also, check that all sinks and showers run clear. Finally, be sure you bring a phone charger to make sure that the outlets work. Many of these problems often get swept under the rug, so check thoroughly.
You will want to make sure that all of your favorite furniture fits in your new apartment. Bring a tape measure and be sure to measure the building entrances and hallways, as well as the apartment itself.
Ask whoever is showing the property as many questions as you can during your walkthrough. Here are some questions you should ask your property manager:
Once you have these questions answered, you should have a better idea about what the apartment and building include. Next, you will want to ask one of the most important questions of all.
Something that many people will want to be certain to ask about is if their pets are allowed. Pet policies vary among different apartment complexes and most will not allow them without a fee.
Be sure to take your time as you go through the complex and the unit. When property managers show their units, they often have a lot on their minds with other tour groups, current tenant issues and operations to take care of. They may try to take you through the viewing as fast as possible.
However, this is their job and you can take as long as you like to view the apartment. Take some of their time to make a connection by talking about yourself and asking questions so they remember you. This might make them more likely to choose your application over another.
Oftentimes in homes and commercial buildings, there are places where the internet does not work. Any room in an apartment can have signals interrupted for countless reasons. Make sure to go through each room to check for service and locate any dead zones in the unit.
If you haven’t already, you should think about living with roommates. Living with roommates will allow you to get the most out of your time and money. Roommates can make living more fun and much more affordable. Many people live with roommates for years after they need to so they can save money for future living expenses.
Oftentimes people get overwhelmed while apartment hunting and forget to check the places and items they had prioritized. Try making an organized list of all your wants and needs in an apartment. You can check off your list as you go through your tours and use that information to create pros and cons that will help you finalize your decision.
Some apartment complexes and real estate agencies are known for bad practices. Most people are very vocal online when they find something they really like or really don’t. Be sure that you Google the company and read reviews to gather background information before your tour.
Most listings will always give you a general place to reach out to if you are interested. However, if you are serious about the listing and want to get moving quickly, you should use any contact information that is listed. Many times there will also be a phone number of the person showing the apartment that you can reach out to directly.
If you feel that there is room to do so, you should try to negotiate the price of rent. A good time to negotiate prices is when the unit has a lot of problems that need to be fixed. You can also negotiate if the building or unit does not include the amenities that you desire. The property manager might be willing to sacrifice some of the rent if it means you will sign a lease.
You should also know when you have to capitalize on a listing before you lose it. If you are searching to rent during popular months, then odds are you won’t be the only one looking at the unit you desire. It is important to follow-up with the property manager frequently because apartments can get taken so quickly and you want them to know that you are interested. If you see an opportunity that is too good to be true, it probably is and you should jump on it.
It can be hard to find the perfect home with all of your desires. There will most likely be some sacrifices and compromises made. If you are searching with friends or especially a spouse, you might have different ideas of what you want in an apartment. In the end, it is typically best to know when to compromise so that you can sign a lease and make your partner happy.
If you find an apartment that you are confident about, look to see if there is an application available before you go. Some apartments will post their application online, or you can ask the manager. This way if you like the apartment when you get there, you’ll already have your paperwork ready. It might even put you ahead of someone who did not fill out the paperwork before viewing.
Renters insurance is much more important than people think and it is very affordable. This protects everything you own inside of your apartment in the case that something happens like a fire or burglary. This can be done in as little as one to two phone calls to a local insurance agent. Just be sure that before you call you estimate the total cost of all your belongings that will be inside of the apartment, as this is the only non-personal information you typically will have to provide.
You will want evidence of what your apartment unit looked like when you moved in. Oftentimes the owner will try to take a larger portion of the security deposit than they need to. However, if you can provide pictures of what the apartment looked like when you moved in, they will usually back down.
Be sure that before you sign anything you drive around the neighborhoods and make sure it is a town you want to live in. Drive past the schools and local restaurants to really give yourself a feel of the lifestyle you will be living. Also, look to see what people say online about the area and check the crime reports to ensure you are moving into a safe neighborhood.
It can also be helpful to check out the area at different times of the day or week. A neighborhood will look very different at noon on a Wednesday compared to rush hour on a Friday. Will there be parking when you get home after work? Does the neighborhood get noisy when the local school gets out? These factors are good to be aware of ahead of time.
If you’re not in a hurry to find a place to live, then there is no reason to rush the process. Give yourself plenty of time to decide on what you want in an apartment, then go find it. Moving to a new home is a big deal, so you really want to make sure that you are ready.
Finding a home can take a lot of time and travel, but when you find the right one, it’s worth it. People spend so much time dealing with housing setbacks. Now that you know these apartment hunting tips, you should feel confident to start your search for a new apartment without any hesitation.