The next step is Apartments 101. Set a budget for your apartment. Select the unit type for your apartment. Gather information the apartment management will require when you complete an application. They will want information on where you have lived, contact information for the landlord, where you work, how much you make, how long you've been there and a phone number.
2. Online Search Service
Find a quality online apartment search service. Only use a service which has information on all apartments in the metropolitan area. Some online apartment services only have information on 10 to 15% of the apartments in a city.
3. Limit Options
The online apartment service can help you limit the number of options to between five and 20 depending on how much time you have to review options. The more options you review, the better your chance of finding your ideal apartment.
4. Is it looks too good to be true…
WOW! -- an apartment has no application fee, no deposit, $0 first months rent and it's in the area I like! Be very careful of apartments offering deals this aggressive. In many cases, their resident profile is rough compared to other properties in the area.
Call and speak to the leasing agents at various apartments. Are they friendly and professional? Are they knowledgeable? After speaking with them, do you feel this is a professionally run the apartment complex whose staff will be attentive and service oriented?
6. Visit Apartments
The next step is to personally visit the apartments. Drive around the perimeter of the property. Then drive through the property if you can. Your observations will be meaningful. A clean, well-maintained apartment complex probably offers a better apartment living experience.
7. Meet On-Site Staff
Next, go to the office and visit with the on-site staff. Ask to see both a model and the unit you would occupy. Ask to walk through a large portion of the property. Are the buildings well maintained? Is there junk on the balconies? Is the property clean? Are there tough-looking people hanging out in courtyards during the middle of the day? What you see when touring the property is important.
Ask the leasing staff about their maintenance policy. How long does it take for them to complete repairs? Are there any maintenance requests which have been pending for more than one week?
Apartment complexes describe security as a courtesy patrol. Ask if they have a periodic courtesy patrol. Ask if there have recently been any criminal incidents at the property. Ask about the property's policy regarding limited access gates. In other words, are the limited access gates usually operational?
11. Speak to a Resident
Speak to a resident at the apartment complex. Try asking the leasing agent if they will let you speak to one resident. Perhaps you can speak to someone who enters the office while you are visiting. An existing resident will probably give you the best available information regarding the apartment living experience at that property.
12. Planning and organizing your apartment search will help you to find a great apartment at a great price. Try to start your search two to four weeks before you have to make a decision. Allowing adequate time improves your chance of getting a great apartment.
One However, this will be a personal decision. You may prefer a property with more amenities and more space in a less attractive area. What is important is whether you like the apartment. Decide what is most important to you. Seek and you shall find.
Two Organizing this information will make the apartment search process less stressful. It will also make a great impression on the leasing staff. Although the apartment leasing staff spends most of their time selling you, they do have to approve your application.
Three It is not likely you will find your ideal apartment while only looking at 10 to 15% of the available properties. If you had selected a new type of car to purchase, would you go to a dealership that had 12 cars in stock or a dealership that had 100 cars in stock? You are much more likely to find a great apartment if you start by reviewing all possible options.
Four Organize the information in a table format. Put apartment names along the top and features all along the left column. Think about which features are most important to you. Is the unit size more important than the amenities? Is having a washer dryer in the unit worth a little more rent? Is it essential to have a dishwasher?
Five Apartments offering "killer" deals tend to be unattractive. Yes, it is hard to pass up a low down move-in deal. If you really need an apartment with the lowest possible move in cost, it may be your best option. However, it is not likely to be the best available apartment complex.
Six You can call many apartments in a short period of time. The first conversation can be short. Focus on getting information, instead of giving them information. They will want to ask you a variety of questions. However, you focus on requesting the information you need. Be polite but be firm.
Seven Before you go to the office, think about the appearance of the property. Is the property well maintained? Would it be a great apartment for you? Does it meet your minimal standards? If not, drive on to the next apartment complex on your list.
Eight Is the office clean and organized? Is the management staff dressed in an appropriate manner? Did the leasing staff greet you in a friendly way? Is there are any residents in the office, observe the interaction of office staff and the residents.
Nine When you meet a new person, they usually offer their best impression during the first several meetings. The same is probably true for your first visit to an apartment complex. Your impression of the apartment property is unlikely to improve over time.
Ten Is the staff proud of their maintenance policy? Do they flinch or look defensive when you ask about the maintenance policy? In some cases, reactions and gestures are more important than what is said.
Eleven In most cities, you can obtain a criminal report by contacting the police department. It will give you factual, detailed information regarding criminal activity at the property. In most cases, a clean, well-maintained property will have less criminal activity than a poorly maintained apartment property.
Twelve Ask if you can speak to the resident in private. Or ask for the resident's phone number so you can call them. Yet another option is to wait outside the leasing office and asked to speak to someone as they're entering the office. Most people are friendly and willing to help.
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