It is often said that finding a home is like dating. It is equally exciting and overwhelming at the same time. You can fall in love at first sight or you might find yourself wanting to explore more options. However, for most people, apartment hunting involves intensive work, a considerable amount of time, and a substantial budget.
The great news is that we have compiled a list of the most helpful tips for finding an apartment to make sure you fall in love at first sight instead of looking for more options. You can also check the list of best websites for finding apartments in nyc.
Create a Budget
Your first task when looking for an apartment should be to define your budget. Consider your total monthly expenses, which include rent, utilities, groceries, move-in costs, and a security deposit. Expenses may also consist of parking fees, cable and internet bills, or other debt obligations. As a rule of thumb, your monthly income should be three times your monthly rent. Try not to be wooed by an apartment’s appearance and amenities alone, especially if it’s out of your budget.
Know the Market
The real estate market has its ups and downs. The real estate cycle is seasonal, and spring is the month when the market is most active. Rent rates are typically more expensive when the market is at its peak. On the other hand, winter is usually less active and when rent rates are the lowest. If you can afford to wait, consider moving during the winter.
Once you have selected an apartment, visit the neighborhood and take note of nearby parks, shops, entertainment centers, and traffic conditions. You can get an idea of what your commute will look like and if it’s feasible for you to live in that area. You should also observe the amount of noise and safety in the building or the surrounding area.
Get an Inspection
Don’t sign a lease without first getting the apartment inspected. The thing is, once you sign the lease, there is no going back. What if you find maintenance issues after moving in? What if you find out that the doors are too short or the rooms are too small to get your furniture inside? What if there isn’t enough storage space or there is mold in the house? Virtual tours may be convenient, but when it comes to determining the actual condition of the apartment you want to rent, it pays to visit the apartment in person. Yes, If you signed a lease then you can also know how to get out of an apartment lease early.
Before signing the lease, you should be clear about the landlord’s expectations. The best way to do this is to ask as many questions as you feel necessary. When you tour the unit, ask questions to whoever is leading the tour. Consider the following:
- What are the lease terms?
- How much is the up-front cost?
- Which utilities are included in the monthly rent?
- Do you require renters’ insurance?
- What are acceptable methods for paying the rent?
- How are emergency repairs handled?
- How good is the security?
- What is the incremental rent policy?
- Is parking available onsite?
- Are there plans to renovate the building?
Know Pet Policy
You should ask about the pet policy if you own a pet or plan to adopt one in the future. Sometimes building laws restrict certain types of pets, and sometimes landlords themselves prohibit them. Make sure you discuss the pet policy with your potential landlord.
Know the Guest Policy
Like the pet policy, either apartment buildings or landlords establish policies around the number of guests a tenant can have. Ask about the rules around having guests regardless of whether you plan to entertain in your new apartment.
Consider Getting a Roommate
Living with a roommate can be exciting and fun. It’s also a way to help curb monthly expenses. Ask if there are any special rules for having a roommate or what is required should you get one after signing the lease.
A homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover the tenant’s belongings. Tenants should get renters insurance to help cover the cost of replacing their valuables should there be theft, fire or smoke damage to the apartment, or a guest injury.
Pro Tip: Keep current photos of your stuff, especially of valuable items. It will help during the insurance claim process if any unfortunate incident happens.
Make sure all of the apartment’s major appliances (i.e. stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer) are fully functioning before you move in.
Check for online reviews of the apartment and neighborhood before you sign the lease. Take both the positive and negative reviews into consideration.
The Bottom Line
Avoid getting lost in the details and make a to-do list. Keep ticking the boxes as you go through the apartment hunting process to help ensure you don’t forget anything.
Interesting Related Article: “7 Budget-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Apartment Cool During the Summer“