Having to look for an apartment can be time consuming and stressful.  Between searching out new neighborhoods, researching amenity information, and then going to look at the apartments, apartment hunting is not enjoyable. There are some ways that you can save time and energy looking for a new place to live.  Consider these tips when looking for your next apartment, and see if they save your sanity too!

APARTMENT HUNTER: Professional apartment hunters are paid by apartment communities to show their apartments.  This works in your favor because there is no money out of your pocket.  They will help you find apartments that may not be published in a newspaper/online classifieds, etc… Apartment hunters will also save you time, similar to a Realtor they can weed out your list of ‘wants’ and provide you with listings in your price range, and neighborhood that you are interested in. They also have information for move-in specials and deals that you may not find looking for an apartment on your own.

SEARCH ONLINE: Just like searching for a house, searching for an apartment requires you to make some decisions before you get started.  Figure out which area of town you want to live.  Even if you don’t know the neighborhood, do your own research on how far you want to be from work, amenities, and resources.

Determine how much your budget is for monthly payments.  In some apartments utilities are covered, and in others they are not. Set your budget based on you having to pay for utilities separately from your rent. Determine what amenities you need and which are wants.  Often times you will pass over great online apartments because they lack a few amenities. You may be able to save money by having fewer amenities, but being closer to resources that are just as important. Searching online with these factors chosen will help you narrow down the competition.

BRING YOUR ROOMMATE: If you are going to live with a roommate(s), bring them along when looking at apartments.  Landlords don’t like showing units to the same tenants over and over, especially if you don’t seem interested in renting it.  You and your roommates will save time by looking at the apartment together, and then you can discuss the pros and cons of the apartment once you leave.  This also helps recall specifics about the apartment without having to return for multiple visits.

TAKE PICTURES: If you can’t visit apartments with your roommates(s), the next best thing is to take pictures.  Taking pictures will also help you choose which apartment you liked, and which you didn’t.  After looking through many apartments, they may start to look the same!  Remember, online apartment websites usually have pictures as well, although they most likely won’t represent the unit you would be living in.

ASK ABOUT FEES: Most apartment buildings will have additional fees. Make sure and get all the information when you view the apartment. Here’s a list of fees to inquire about:

1.) Rental Deposit – This is typically first and last month’s rent. A penalty fee may be assessed if you break your lease.

2.) Security deposit – money put down if your apartment has any damage.  Check to see how much will be returned at the end of the lease if you keep it in good shape.

3.) Processing or application fee – fee for administrative personnel reviewing your application/credit checks/background checks, etc…

4.) Parking/garage fee – depending on your building, a parking lot or garage may have an extra cost associated with your apartment stay.

5.) Pet Fee – If your apartment allows pets, a fee will usually be assessed. Have a thorough walk through of the apartment with the landlord before moving in. Make sure all conditions are documented.  At the end of your lease, you will want to ensure you return the apartment to this same condition.  Keep a copy of the initial walk through, all fees, and contract for your personal records.  Get all contractual information in writing.

Freshome reader’s how did you find your current apartment? Have any tricks or suggestions for making apartment hunting easier? Let us know!