Apartment shopping is complicated. You should ideally leave yourself more than one day to find an apartment. It is possible to find an apartment in one day. However, you’ll get better results if you have more time to find the property and negotiate the best deal.
The first set to finding an apartment is organizing information on yourself. You know — where you have lived for the last five years, the name and phone number of your landlord, where you work, how long you have been there, how much you are paid and the phone number for your office. You may also want to get a credit report on yourself if you’re concerned that credit blemishes may cause a problem during the leasing process.
To find an apartment, you have to filter out 99.99% of the other apartment complexes. The most important level of filtering is the location. Select the area of town where you want to live. If you are moving to an apartment from out of town, get help from someone in the area where you are moving.
Set a realistic budget. Your cost of housing should not exceed about 30 to 35% of your household income. This includes rent, electric, gas and water.
The next step in selecting an apartment is to select the unit type, unit size and amenities which are important to you. Consider both the in-unit amenities and the project or community amenities.
Use an online apartment search or online apartment locator to find apartment complexes. Your best bet is to find an online apartment search service which has information on all available apartments in the city. Some of the online apartment search services only have information on 10 or 15% of the apartments in the city. Also consider an online apartment search service which offers a $100 rebate. This will help with your moving costs.
Limit the list of apartments to does which seem to be the best fit — to perhaps five or eight apartment properties. Start calling the apartments to get up to date information on unit availability, and the specials they are offering. Specials offered by apartments can vary from floor plan to floor plan and from day to day. Calling the apartment before you visit will help you to get the best deal. Also ask for information on application fees, deposits and the first months rent. Some apartments offer a reduced payment for the first months rent.
Visit three to five properties which seemed to best fit your requirements. Ask detailed questions regarding the issues which are most important to you. Take notes while you’re at the property. Your memory will fade quickly. The properties will start to run together. Confirm information on the deposits, first month’s rent, application fee, rental rates and unit amenities while you’re visiting each property. Also ask to see the unit they have available for you, instead just seeing the model unit.
After visiting the properties, review your notes and select the property which is best for you. Call and see if they can improve their last offer by perhaps reducing the deposit, waiving the application fee, or reducing the rent.
Visit the property and negotiate the lease. The lease is a legal document. You should read the lease. Ask questions if you do not understand portions of the lease. In most cases, the lease is negotiable. If a lease term does not seem reasonable, ask the leasing agent to change it.
Before accepting the apartment, walked through it with the leasing agent or apartment manager. Carefully inspect items such as counter tops, carpet, vinyl tile, mirrors, switch plates, the level of finish in the bathtub/shower, and wall sockets. If the apartment is not clean, ask the apartment representative if they can clean up before you move in. Also asked about what you need to do (regarding cleaning the property) to have your deposit returned.