5 Must-Haves for Your Apartment Hunting Checklist
1. Your Camera
First on the list for your apartment hunting checklist is a viable method for taking pictures or video of every place. When viewing apartments, the last thing you want to do is forget what the place looks like. Bring your camera (or use your phone’s, obviously,) and take photos of everything — including those cracks in the wall and mold on the ceiling. (They’ll come in use when if and when you’re negotiating for cheaper rent with your landlord.) What’s most important is that you know exactly what you’re paying for when narrowing down your options.
2. Decision Makers
This one is obvious, but it’s worth emphasizing. All roommates and/or guarantors should be present at every apartment showing, so you can make quick decisions. The worst thing you can do is find a place, love it, and lose it because all the decision makers are not present.
If all your decision makers can’t make it, it’s really important to bring along a trusted friend at the very least. You’ll want someone to offer a second opinion and help ask questions you might forget, but also it’s just a safety precaution. Having someone with you when you’re meeting a stranger — whether it’s a broker, landlord or potential roommate — is just good common sense. Plus, your parents will be so proud.
3. Your Smartphone
Steven Clair, a real estate broker with Level Group of NYC, says, if nothing else, make sure you have your phone on you. It’s an indispensable tool for your apartment hunting checklist in more than one way.
“Nowadays it isn’t so much what to physically bring with you, but what to have at your fingertips,” he points out. “As a serious renter in a very competitive market you should either:
- Have a saved PDF on your phone with your application, letter of recommendation, three recent pay stubs, the first page of your most recent bank statement, as well as your W2 or the 1040 page of your tax return.
- OR: An email with all these documents that you’ve already sent to yourself that you can easily forward to whomever is taking care of the applications process.”
4. Your Application Documents
Don’t assume that bringing along documents for your application makes you too much of an eager beaver. Really, there’s no such thing in a tough housing market, which more and more cities are becoming. Apartments go ridiculously fast in major markets (pretty much overnight), and if you’re looking during an especially busy time, then being overly prepared is your best bet.
Marcus Kusi, a renter who recently switched jobs and found himself in need of an apartment says an apartment hunting checklist helped him make sure he had everything he needed to be a good candidate in a competitive rental market.
“The things we brought to our apartment showing were: a printed copy of our credit score, proof that I had a job, contact information for our previous landlords, and references,” he says, adding that “a well mannered behavior” doesn’t go unthanked either.
“It’s one of the key reasons landlords will choose one renter over the other, assuming both renters meet all other criteria.”
4. Your A-Game
This one might not be as obvious, but here’s the synch: Decisions like this are life-changing.So if you want your life to change for the better because of this new apartment, make sure you know what you’re looking for and what you’re going into.
Sam Radbil, Senior Communications Manager at ABODO, says you need to know the following things before you even show up (a checklist for your checklist, if you will):
- Length of the lease
- Rent price
- Security Deposit
- Other upfront payments
- Rent increases in the past one to three years
- Turnover rate in the building
- Rent fees
- Can you break the lease?
- Number of applicants
- Painting regulations
- Pet regulations
- Quiet hours in building
- Maintenance requests/complaints
Radbil says to do your research before the showing and bring your A-game and your questions. Of course, the landlord is interviewing you, but keep in mind that you’re also interviewing the landlord.
We know this advice isn’t a bluff. Seriously, come super prepared with each item on your apartment hunting checklist to every apartment showing. Come prepared, like you’ve never come prepared before.