Finding that perfect apartment means taking some time and coming up with exactly what you’re looking for. Having a well defined list of must-haves and nice-to-haves will make your apartment search much easier.
1. Investigate the areas you’d like to live in:
*Find out the crime rates in these areas
*If schools are important, find out how they rate in that area?
*Are shopping, services, health and recreation facilities convenient?
(Check out Realtor.com’s neighborhood search tool)
2. Identify your top priorities
*Do you have pets?
*Do you need extra parking spaces?
*How many bedrooms, how much living area?
*Do you prefer to be on the ground floor?
*Is a view important?
*What amenities would you like – swimming pool, recreation or fitness room, tennis courts?
*Do you need laundry facilities?
3. Evaluate the apartment
*Is the building in good condition?
*Are the grounds well landscaped and neat?
*Are the grass and plants green or dieing?
*Are common areas, both inside and outside, well looked after?
*Are steps, walkways, windows and doors safe?
*Visit the apartment at night. Would you feel safe in the parking lots, garages, walkways and hallways? Are they well lit?
4. Evaluate the security
*Is there a private security service? If so, during what hours?
*Is there secured access to the grounds? To the building? If so, are doors and gates kept locked?
*Do the apartments have adequate locks on doors and windows?
5. Ask the neighbors how they like living there
It may take a little courage, but it is worth asking current residents how they feel about the building. See what response times are like for maintenance and repair requests.
The Right Questions
6. Check out the amenities
*Who’s allowed to use swimming pools, recreation and fitness rooms, tennis courts?
*What hours are they open?
*Is there additional fees charged to use those facilities?
7. Ask about Utilities
*Does the owner or tenant pay the water bill?
*Are any utilities, such as gas and electric, included in the rent?
*Do units have individual thermostats to control heat and air conditioning?
8. Examine the lease
*How much notice must you give before moving at the end of the lease term?
*Can the rent be increased? If so, by how much and how often?
*Are pets allowed?
*What provisions cover your security deposit and end of lease cleaning costs?
*What is the responsibility of tenants for wear or damage to property?
*What is the penalty for breaking a lease?
9. Be prepared! Collect information to present to landlords and leasing agents before beginning your search. Include:
a. Credit Report
c. Pay stubs/tax returns