Learn more about how Apartment Guide is responding to coronavirus and taking steps to help renters and property managers during this challenging time.
The COVID-19 pandemic has stolen a lot from people, but it has also challenged us to be more flexible and creative in our daily lives.
This isn't just limited to homemade hand sanitizer and innovative toilet paper substitutes (you know, just in case). Apartment-hunters have to think outside the box, too.
Although the pandemic has certainly changed the apartment-hunting experience, it's still possible to find the ideal place to start a post-coronavirus life, where hopefully you'll be able to host parties, give welcoming hugs and just generally get closer than six feet away from your friends.
So, while this contagion-like fiasco lasts, those of you in need of new digs can do a remote apartment search from the comfort of your own couch, with the help of these handy tips.
Many apartment complexes offer Tour from tours of the various floor plans, so start there when a location piques your interest. Make notes on the pros and cons of each one because, after a while, all the videos will start to run together.
Once you've narrowed it down to a unit or two, ask the property manager for a tour using a live video tool, like Skype or Zoom. You can request one right on the property profile. Have him start outside the door so you can see the property number (to verify that it's the correct unit), then walk through each room, showing from all angles. This will help you make any aesthetic requests (carpets need to be cleaned), plus it'll give you a much better visual than a bunch of possibly outdated or staged photos on the internet.
At this time, you can also have the tour guide turn appliances on and off to make sure they work properly, check the faucet for good water pressure and so on. If there are any kinks, they can hopefully be worked out before you ever take residence.
Check online reviews for honest (sometimes too much so) opinions of properties. Don't just look at reviews for the property, but also for the neighborhood using sites like Neighborhood Scout and AreaVibes, as they can give a good overall picture of crime and other data.
Bear in mind that people are more likely to write a review if they're severely ticked off, so don't be too alarmed at a high negative rate. To that end…
Ask the property manager for a handful of phone numbers of current residents you can contact for an honest opinion. Make a list of questions beforehand, and be sure to cover topics like how well the property is maintained, how responsive the management is to concerns/repairs, noise levels of neighbors and local traffic/nightlife, whether the property is pet-friendly and what the parking situation is like. Find out how long the person has rented there and how it compares with previous locations.
Given the uncertain times, it can't hurt to ask for a few concessions. For example, rather than signing a one-year lease, you can try for a month-to-month or shorter option, just in case the new place isn't up to your standards.
Also, see if you can put off signing a lease until right before move-in day when you can be there in person. That way you can back out if the apartment doesn't match the photos or footage. Just be warned: You may forfeit your application fees if you go this route.
Apartment-hunting and everything else affected by COVID-19 will eventually go back to normal, but in the meantime, it's in everyone's interests to be flexible, friendly and patient. After all, we're all in this together (even if we're being kept apart).