Choosing an apartment can be a huge gamble. You can either find a diamond in the rough or simply a big mistake. It's possible to get the latter if you tend to skim through the details.
It's good to know some apartment hunting mistakes to avoid ruining your dream apartment. Read on to learn more about eight common mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Overlooking Damages
Looking for options for apartments can be exciting, but try not to overlook the damages. Most lease agreements have damage deposits, which is the amount held by the landlord for damages done during your lease period.
The landlord may hold you responsible and ask for a hefty repair or cleaning bill. Take some pictures of small and big damages to avoid being the one held liable. You can also check the apartment together with the owner to point out the damages ahead of time.
2. Not Checking the Neighborhood
The neighborhood plays a significant role in your apartment experience. Investigate the area's crime rate and take a look at the transportation options. Try visiting the apartment at different times throughout the day and week to get a better sense of the atmosphere, noise level, and street lights.
Knock on your future neighbors' doors and ask what they like and dislike about the community. Do a little research on your landlord's name to see if you can dig up some useful information like reviews. Also, check your credit score since the landlord will probably do a background check.
3. Having an Unrealistic Budget
When you look at the different prices for apartments, you may get tempted to raise your budget. A general rule of thumb is to avoid spending more than 30% of your monthly income on housing. You have to consider more than the apartment, like your other expenses.
Remember to consider the internet, heating, transportation, food, and other bills. Total your expected monthly expenses to help you make a realistic budget. Take note of your moving expenses and the needed items for your apartment as well.
4. Thinking Leases Are All the Same
The biggest apartment hunting mistake is rushing to sign the dotted lines. A lease is a contractual arrangement between you and your landlord. Make sure that you research things that you don't understand and ask your landlord plenty of questions.
No lease is the same as others. Be clear on how long you'll be planning on staying at the apartment and ensure that the property manager or owner gives you a copy of the lease and other agreements for your records.
5. Browsing Online Listings
There's nothing wrong with searching for apartments online. However, most photos can be quite deceptive and can lead to regret when you sign the lease. Before you decide to sign on the dotted line, be sure to visit the apartment in person.
Checking the place in person can prevent you from falling victim to a scam artist. Try to look and inspect the entire apartment. A great strategy is to ask trusted friends to suggest a place they've lived, visited, or tried to stay at.
6. Forgetting to Analyze the Details
It may be exciting to find your dream place to live, but it's easy to overlook some details in your apartment. Look at how long it takes to commute to ATMs or banks. See whether there's a close-by grocery store, daycare, school, and so on.
It's also a good idea to check routes at different times to see the change in traffic patterns. See if you can bring a pet into the apartment. Make sure that the apartment can fit all the stuff that you will need.
Check if the walls are thick enough to avoid listening to your neighbors' noises. Ask your landlord whether your utilities are part of your lease to avoid extra expenses. Be sure to check whether the faucets work and the toilets flush properly.
Open up all the doors, windows, and cabinets to check whether you have to replace or repaint anything. Another important aspect you need to check is the strength of your phone's signal from inside the apartment. Make sure that no matter what cell phone provider you have, the coverage is strong.
7. Glossing Over the Fine Print
Don't become hypnotized by the attractive or fancy fixtures. It's always good to read everything on your lease. Take note of important details and additional features that you may be able to get.
Management companies and landlords tend to impose restrictions. They can also get strict when it comes to guests and those who stay for more than a day or two. If you think you've missed some crucial details in the fine print, ask your landlord.
Here are some questions you may need to ask:
- What are the policies for breaking the lease early?
- Are there rules for non-tenant access?
- How should I pay my rent?
- Do I need renters insurance?
- How do you handle maintenance requests?
- What is the renewal process?
- Is this apartment for families?
It's a great apartment hunting strategy to negotiate with the owner. Negotiating helps both you and the owner feel comfortable with the terms. It's one of the worst apartment hunting mistakes to agree to disagree.
8. Not Considering Your Roommate
Living with a roommate can save you some money since you can split the rent. However, the wrong roommate can cause your dream apartment to turn into a nightmare. Talk to your roommate about your expectations when you live together.
Discuss everything from cleanliness to guests to noise. If necessary, you can make a roommate contract to avoid conflict and make sure that you and your roomate(s) take a look at the apartment together.
Common Apartment Hunting Mistakes
These are some of the most common apartment hunting mistakes that many rookies and veterans commit. Make sure to be diligent and take your time looking at your apartment options. Make the most of your apartment hunt by avoiding these common blunders!
We hope you learn from these common mistakes. If you need help finding an apartment that fits your needs, consider contacting us. We'll help you find the right home to move into!