5 tips to make finding a new apartment easy

Finding a new place can be difficult, and it’s been made especially difficult this year by rising rents.

Whether you’re renting for the first time or tenth, here are five things to consider when looking for a new place to call home.

needs and wants

Brian Carberry, senior managing editor at Redfin-owned apartment search website Rent.com, says first and foremost you need to determine your priorities and availability.

If you’re not sure how to do the math, Zumper’s Rent Affordability Calculator can help you estimate how much you can afford to pay per month based on your location, monthly income, and monthly expenses.

Then you can consider things like location and amenities.

Another option is to use a broker to assist you in your search. Some, known as free brokers, charge the lease management company instead of charging you.

“As a liaison, I was there to say, ‘Oh, this isn’t right. We might need to look into this,'” said the broker, who used the free broker to rent a one-bedroom apartment. said Erica Tuscon, who found the apartment. Los Angeles.

Ask your friends for recommendations. If you’ve never worked with a broker before, ask questions beforehand and look for reviews on her website such as Yelp. In big cities like New York, websites like StreetEasy allow tenants to limit their search to “free” apartments.

understand the market

As with any major life decision, it’s always good to do some research. Rents can vary greatly by city and state, and understanding the market is the best way to know what to expect at different price points, says Carberry.

If you are not in a hurry, please wait until after September.

“If you have the ability to look out for the winter months, that time of year is great because not many people are thinking about moving. .

According to Apartment List, renters can have more leverage when negotiating. However, this year may not see as sharp a winter slowdown as it did before the pandemic, due to high rental demand.

The downside to moving in the winter is that you have fewer options and if you live in an area where it snows, your move can be subject to bad weather.

— drive around the neighborhood

While many landlords list their apartments and houses on online websites such as Facebook and Craigslist, others are more analog.

Tascon drove around various neighborhoods and found “For Rent” signs outside some units.

“It really helps,” she said.

Take your time (but don’t take too long)

It is important to learn as much as possible and make well-informed decisions. But in a competitive market, you can’t always take the time you need to consider your options. The key is to do as much research as possible beforehand so that when you find something you like, you can apply immediately. If you know your lease is about to expire, start researching months in advance. This includes looking for reviews of property management companies and neighborhoods.

“You have to be prepared to put a lot of time and energy into this,” said Tuscon, who spent more than a month looking for his current apartment.

— Know Your Landlord/Lease Office

Britni Eseller, who recently found an apartment in San Diego, suggests asking potential landlords for the license number, name of the property manager, and unit details.

You can search for reviews of potential landlords or property management companies on websites such as Yelp, ApartmentRatings.com, and RentMyLandlord.com. You can also ask questions and get in touch.

direct visit

An important aspect of getting to know your potential home is an in-person visit, Carberry said.

“You can look and get through with the fine-toothed comb on the unit itself,” said Carvery. “Look at things like paint and appliances, things you might not see on his virtual tour because you can go inside and see them up close.”

In-person visits are always preferred, but if you’re moving to another state and can’t afford to visit first, ask a friend or colleague to check out the location.

— bring a friend

When it comes to visiting an apartment, the more eyes the better, Tascon said. I can.

— Be prepared to claim when you visit

Apartments in cities with competitive markets like San Francisco, New York and Austin often have multiple applicants.

Esseler found an apartment in just two weeks. With so many people patrolling the unit she wanted, she knew she had to act quickly.

She had already printed some documents, but ran to print more right after the tour so I could submit my application in a few hours.

“Timing is really important. There were a lot of people in front of and behind me, and the paperwork was ready, so I was able to submit my application quickly,” said Essler. It was first come first served.

know your rights

Knowing your state’s tenant rights is very important, says Lucia Leal, a housing counselor at Causa Justa, a San Francisco-based tenant advocacy group.

“Most tenants think that the landlord owns the house so they can do whatever they want, but that’s a problem,” says Leal.

A good place to start reading about your rights is the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Tenant Rights website.
Being informed about your rights and reading the lease carefully before signing will help avoid conflict and confusion. If you have specific questions and need to talk to someone, community organizations around you It might help.

“Local groups provide accessible guides and legal documents to assist,” he said.


The Associated Press receives support from the Charles Schwab Foundation for educational and descriptive reports to improve financial literacy. An independent foundation is separate from Charles Schwab and Co. Inc. AP is solely responsible for its journalism.

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