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Your Complete Guide to Finding Your Next Apartment

Intended Audience: Singles and families who are apartment hunting and would like to know the best steps to take to find their home.

Apartment hunting is no easy feat, but it’s a necessary process that you can’t put off until the last minute.

Are you a young adult moving into your first pad? A family looking for the perfect community to call home? Either way, it’s essential to take the time to consider how you want the search to go.

Having an idea of where and what type of residence you’d like will help with the search tremendously.

Get all of your ducks in a row, and before you know it, you’ll find and settle into the perfect apartment home.

1. Know what you want ahead of time

As we briefly covered in our introduction, using the internet is a convenient way to search.

However, the web won’t magically help you decide on which place to live. If you haven’t already determined what you need, it’s going to be challenging to narrow down your search.

Make a list of the amenities you can’t do without and what kind of outside features you need.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Am I going to live alone or share the space with a roommate?
  • Would I rather live in a one, two, or three-bedroom?
  • What kind of square footage do I need?
  • What kind of layout — loft, studio, or separate rooms?
  • Do I need more than one bathroom?
  • Would I rather live on the bottom or top floor?
  • What’s my budget, and am I willing to spend more?

Are you disappointed that your favorite complex doesn’t have everything you need? Decide whether the missing components are deal-breakers or if you’re willing to let go of a few features.

You’ll also be able to use the internet to your advantage without blindly searching for a place to live.

By having a plan and list before you tour communities, you’ll know what your deciding factors are.

Considering your personal needs and wants will lead to an efficient and effective apartment search.

2. Use a variety of tools to search

After you have a general idea of what you’re looking for, utilizing online tools will help you narrow your search.

By learning what’s currently available, you can find your dream apartment based on location, price, and more.

There are many kinds of internet search tools available to aid you in your search.

Here are a few websites you should check out:

● Zillow
● Apartment Finder
● Apartment Guide
● Trulia

You probably don’t have time to tour every property that interests you.  Prescreening complexes online will speed up your search. On select websites can usually see which units, floor plans, amenities, and more are available.

Third-party websites usually have a link to the community’s website as well as contact information. Call to double-check that the unit you’re interested in is still available.

Visiting the direct website will also answer questions like if there’s a washer or dryer in the unit or if they allow pets.

Listings and unit availability can change fast, especially if someone acts quickly and puts a deposit down.

Craigslist is a wonderful resource if you’d like to learn about units that will be available in the near future.

However, scammers often pretend units are available at a complex when they don’t even work for the company. Never give out personal information via email or phone unless you know for sure you’re talking to an official person who works at the complex.

Another place to look is in the apartment magazines and flyers that you find at coffee shops, real estate agencies, and even grocery stores.

There are multiple ways to search for an apartment. Use a variety of tools so you’ll know what’s currently available.

3. Designate a few days to tour different complexes

Life gets busy, and looking for a new place to hang your hat makes things crazier. Before you even start, carve away enough time in your schedule to do a proper search.

Plan a few days where you can tour complexes without distractions. When it’s time to tour different places, get your shortlist ready.

You should also have a down payment already saved up. We’ll go into more detail on that in a moment.

If you are working with an agent, you should ask how to strategically schedule tours to make use of the limited time you have. Don’t schedule too many tours, though, or you’ll get overwhelmed.

During a tour have a list of your must-haves in hand or keep them in mind. Look for deal-breakers and ask questions now. Ask a variety of questions the first time you tour the complex so that you don’t have to revisit.

4. Prepare

Many properties require a down payment, which typically includes the first and last month’s rent. They may also need a security deposit — which is usually equal to one month’s rent.So, for example, if you’re paying $1,200 per month for an apartment, you’ll need $3,600 when it’s time to sign your lease.

First and last month’s rent will belong to the residential company. But, you will receive your security deposit back when you move out if you keep your unit in good shape. If you move out and leave your apartment a mess, the residential company will apply your deposit to repairs, cleaning, and maintenance.

You won’t need to give the complex a security deposit until you sign the lease. But, don’t wait until the last minute to make sure you have the available funds.

Do your homework and gather all needed documents before visiting a property. You never know when you might find the perfect complex and need to act fast to reserve an apartment home.

Many complexes want to be sure that you will make timely rental payments. They may ask you to provide documents like your driver’s license and social security card so they can do a background check. They might also ask to see proof that you’re employed and to see a copy of a bill that you make regular payments on.

Be prepared so that you don’t miss out on what could be the perfect home for you.

5. Talk to people who live there

After you tour a complex you think might be a fit, find out as much information as possible about your potential home.

The best way to find out if a community is a good fit is to ask tenants what they think of living there. Talk to them about their apartment and what they love the most as well as which outdoor features they like.

If you’re hesitant to talk to residents in person, you can also look at the reviews on apartment review websites.

If the management team lives at the community, consider asking them which amenities are their favorites.

In general, you want to live in a safe complex that offers amenities that are important to you. For example, if you have kids, you should make sure there is a playground or playgrounds at the community.

A few other property features that may attract you to the community may include:

  • A resident garden
  • Large clubhouse with games
  • Outdoor lounge areas

If you’re new to the area, you should also ask questions about living expenses, schools, and entertainment, just to name a few.

6. Do a walkthrough

If you tour a community and decide you’d like to reserve an apartment, don’t sign the lease right away.

It’s great that you’re thrilled with the apartment space and property location, but do a final walkthrough before signing the lease.

Previous tenants may have damaged the apartment or left behind unresolved maintenance problems. Make sure you won’t be held responsible for future issues.

One way to make sure you won’t be liable for damages (such as a dent on the wall), is by taking pictures of any problem areas. Save the images so that’ll you’ll have them when you move out.

Evidence will prove you didn’t cause that particular apartment damage.

7. Ask about emergency maintenance

If you decide to move on to the next step and reserve an apartment, still ask pertinent questions.

One question to ask is how to report an emergency repair.

What if you lock yourself out, and there isn’t a spare key around? If the property management doesn’t live on-site, ask for a number of an emergency maintenance employee you can call. Find out if they’re on call 24/7 and what their response time is.

The last thing you want is for your air conditioner to go out in the middle of a hot summer weekend.

Some complexes expect tenants to take care of issues on their own, but this is highly unlikely. Clarify by asking how the best way to handle emergencies.

While searching for the perfect apartment is fun, you should take it seriously.

Prepare ahead of time, and you’ll have no problem snagging an apartment that’s perfect for you. Reward yourself with the fun part — decorations, furnishings, and other fun activities to enjoy.

If you go about your hunt in the right way, you can save a lot of time and energy and find the apartment that best matches your ideal lifestyle.

Author Bio:
Bobbie Peterson is the regional manager for Affinity 56 and has over 12 years of experience in multifamily. She is so excited to see this community thrive!