Our 10 Most Important Tips for Apartment Hunting

When looking for an apartment, there are many things that need to be taken into consideration.

There are the typical things like “Do you like the overall feeling of the apartment?” “Does it suit my lifestyle?” “Is it close to work?”. But there are smaller things that people look past or don’t think about during the entire apartment hunting process from viewing, to application, to finally moving into the apartment.

Here are Our Tips for Apartment Hunting Success!

1. Create Your “Must Need” List

When it comes to apartment hunting, not every apartment is the same and not every apartment will work for everyone. We recommend making a list of your Must Need items, such as:

  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Outdoor space
  • Extra storage space
  • Pets
  • Dishwasher
  • In unit laundry

CHFR are listing an average of 5 apartments everyday, so creating a list like this can help you narrow down your search by 100’s.

This Can Also Help the Management Company Find Apartments That Will Suit All of Your Needs

2. Create Your Budget

Putting together a monthly budget can help you in more than just apartment hunting. But this is one of our top recommendations in finding the perfect home. There is no point in applying for an apartment that will put you in debt, and since CHFR analyses your rent-to-income ratio, applying for apartments out of your budget will get you an immediate denial and be a waste of your time.

We suggest:

  • Creating a spreadsheet
  • Knowing your after-tax income
  • Analyzing your bills
  • Analyzing your extra monthly spending
  • Using a rent-to-income calculator

3. Consider The Neighborhood

Doing a quick google maps search can help immensely. Deciding what you want to be located near can help you narrow down your search.

  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Hiking Trails
  • Universities
  • Malls
  • Work

There are typically an elementary, middle, and high school in every town, but doing some research on the schools to see if they would be a good fit for you and your family could be very beneficial. As well if you’re a student attending university in a new town, or moving because of a work relocation, being close to either could skim minutes off of your morning and evening commute – meaning you can sleep in later!

4. Know What Is Included In An Apartment

After analyzing all of YOUR needs you’re probably ready to start the hunt. Making sure that the apartments you’re looking at align with your needs can be difficult, so we suggest making notes of what the apartments include or don’t include to keep everything organized.

  • Are heat and lights included?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Is there off street parking?
  • Is there in unit laundry?
  • Is there in building laundry?
  • How many bedrooms are there?

If it is ever unclear about what it included in an apartment, don’t be afraid to contact the management company.

Always include your name and your contact information, the address of the unit you are asking about, and most times it is best to give your list of wants so that the management company can recommend other units that might be suited to you.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions

Property Managers or Showing Agents are always there to answer any questions you might have about an apartment. If they don’t have the answers on the spot, they will be sure to contact you later with all of the information you will need to make the proper decision.

Some Questions We Suggest Asking

  • Where can I park in this area?
  • Is there a laundromat nearby?
  • Who takes care of the common areas?
  • Do I have access to any storage space or other shared building amenities?
  • Who is responsible for snow removal?
  • Who is responsible for trash removal?
  • Who will be my Property Manager?
  • If I ever have an emergency, what is your process?

Asking all of these questions will have you more than prepared to make the correct living decision for you and your family.

6. Take Photos and Analyze the Details.

While you are viewing your apartment, it is important to check all of the details and it will help to take photos to reference back to later.

This Can Include

  • Closet Space
  • In Unit/In Building Laundry
  • Kitchen cabinet space
  • Water pressure
  • Heat source and location
  • Absence of deadbolts etc.
  • Presence of mold
  • Tiles that need caulking

Keeping photos of these details can also help the property manager request that the owner fix any issues before your move-in date.

7. Gather Your Application Materials

It is important to be prepared for your Application. All Applications are different but you can assume they will all ask for the following information:

  • Proof of Income
  • Pet Information
  • References from previous apartments and/or personal references
  • Roommate Information
  • What is your desired move-in date?
  • Background Screening

If there are any special circumstances for you and your family such as moving from a different country, special family circumstances, etc. please always include these details in your application.

8. Understanding Your Lease

Reading your lease before signing is always always always recommended. Not only does it help you understand rent prices and what the rules of the building are, it also helps you to know what numbers to call incase of emergencies, and who you should call if you have a request or concern.

Items That Go Missed

  • Lease Terms (Month-to-Month, 12 Months/1 Year, 2 Years, etc.)
  • Date that rent is due every month
  • Pet Policy
  • Security Deposit Information
  • Property Manager Name and Contact
  • Emergency Line
  • Rules of the building
  • Parking
  • Snow and Trash Removal

If you sign off on your lease, you are agreeing to everything in it. If an owner or a property management company has rules that you must follow to live in the building then they must be followed and claiming you “didn’t read your lease so you didn’t know” is not an excuse and can result in serious consequences and possible displacement.

9. Consider the Move

Sometimes you absolutely fall in love with an apartment, you sign the lease and have everything ready to move. Come to find out that none of your current furniture fits in the apartment!

Always Consider

  • How much time and effort comes from moving from your current home to your new one.
  • The size of your furniture and if it will fit in your new home.
  • Will the stairwells fit your new extra-large sofa?
  • Will you need to hire professionals or is it possible to move on your own?

10. Make it a Buyers Market

This tip from u/magicroot75 on reddit is a great one to follow.

  • Give yourself ample time to choose a place
  • Be able to walk away from a place if you don’t think you’re getting a good deal.
  • Ask for a discount. The worst they can tell you is “no.” Many great deals have been had by people asking for a discount in a friendly way.

The best thing that you can do is to take your time in choosing a place that suits you and that you can make a home.

Our Biggest Piece Of Advice?

No matter how long or short of a time you plan on renting, it will be your HOME and you should treat it as such throughout your entire renting process.

You wouldn’t want to live somewhere you can’t call home and make your own as much as possible. Owners and Property Management want to help you with this too, so never feel like you have to rush, and never feel like you have to take a place even though you wont be able to call it home.

Some Renters Tips With Other Readers

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