Monday, August 3, 2015

Apartment buying tips



In June, I was apartment hunting and I became a pro at calling and looking at apartments.

Here are some tips when starting your apartment search: 

- Know the area you want to live in. If you don't know what area you want, then your search range becomes too gigantic and you get overwhelmed. Figure out the zip code or exact city you most want to live in.

- I did a lot of my searching online in places like ApartmentFinder.com, Zillow.com and Craigslist.com  and found that to be a good way to see what was available.

- Start your search sooner rather than later. I ran into this problem because a lot of places already had all their units booked for my move in date. Some places only require a 30 day notice from their residences while others start the process 6 months ahead. Start as soon as you think you want to move.

- When you call an apartment complex, tell them your expected move in date and what kind of room you're looking for. So I'd always say, "I'm looking for a one bedroom for a late August move in" then they'd usually tell me they didn't have any available. haha

- Bring a camera when you tour the complex! No seriously. Best tip ever. Take pictures of the sample room and the complex. Zoom in on the toilet. Take a selfie with you and the apartment leasing manager.

-Bring a notebook, folder or at least a pen to jot notes down on. It's embarrassing having to ask the leasing person for a pen. I just knew they thought, "If she can't even afford a pen, how will she afford this rent?"

- Try and get a copy of a floor plan or whatever brochures they have.

- Jot down in your notebook where there is tile, carpet and hardwood.

- Ask about promotional move in specials. Military discounts? Book now and get one month free? Sign within the next week and get a bedbug free room?

- Be firm about your budget. Figure out how much you can pay for bills + rent and stick to that. Some people will ask you this question and be prepared to firmly answer no matter how judge-y they will be when you tell them your amount. That's their problem when they roll their eyes at you and give you some rude response like "we might have a studio in the basement for that amount..."

- Keep in mind every complex has a different kind of room to show you. Some will show you a sample room that is already furnished, an unfurnished room, a tenant's room as it is, or the leasing office might be in their sample unit. Be prepared for anything. My favorite is the unfurnished room and my least favorite was seeing a guy's bedroom while he was still in there. I was too horrified by how this boy "lived" and couldn't notice whether there was carpet or tile in the living room.

- Read reviews online but keep in mind that most people who write reviews are writing them because they are angry and bitter bored individuals. Don't take them too seriously. I loved Albany Woods and still read the most hateful reviews online. To each is own.

Important questions to ask when looking at apartments:

  • What utilities are included in rent? 
    • Some places include internet, tv, gas, electric, etc 
  • Is there a gas bill?
  • Which utility companies do you use?
  • Can I pay rent online?
    • Is there a fee for paying rent online?
  • How fast does maintenance respond to requests?
    • Can I submit maintenance requests online?
  • Where are the mailboxes? 
  • Where is the dumpster? 
  • Is parking free? 
    • Is guest parking allowed? 
  • Is there a walking trail nearby?
  • Do you allow subleasing? 
    • This way, if you're miserable there, you can put your apartment on Craigslist and try to sublease it out and move elsewhere 
  • Is there a grocery store nearby? 
  • Are the appliances stainless steel? 
  • Do you only offer 1 year leases?
  • What kind of security is there? 
  • Do you replace the carpet before the new tenant moves in? 
  • Do you require renter's insurance?
    • How much?
  • Is there a fitness center?
    • Is it 24 hours? 
  • What is the application process like? 
    • What fees?
    • Security deposit?