Searching for a new place to call home can be stressful, especially when there isn’t a lot of time or money on your side. For every new vacancy, there are numerous prospective renters, and sometimes long application processes. What do you do when you need a new place and up against a time crunch. Here are a few tips from a veteran apartment searcher that prove a little pre-planning can go a long way.
Before we begin, I’d like to inform you that renting an apartment is no easy task and if it involves relocating to a new city, it becomes all the more difficult to adjust to the city’s culture and people as they are completely different than you might think. It is no less than a herculean achievement to get a flat on rent, let alone Porsche areas like Parc Central Residences, which is a distant dream for even some of the richest people in town. Now, we’ll delve into the points on how to make apartment search easy:
Every one has a laundry list for the perfect apartment. You want the spacious one bedroom with a great view in the most hip neighborhood that is also in your price range. The truth is you’re lucky to get half. You may only get a studio in a less trendy area, but it’s in your price range. Go ahead and make the laundry list, but be aware of which things you can trade to stay in budget. Alternatively, think about how much you can increase the budget to get more of what you want. Be ready to make some compromises. Decide whether you will live with roommates or go it alone, then adjust the criteria list and budget accordingly.
Let your fingers do the walking:
Use sites like craigslist.org to refine your search before hitting the streets. You can narrow an entire city down by price range and neighborhood. Start with your list of must-have criteria and contact the landlords by phone or email. Ask a few questions based on what is most important to you. (i.e. Are pets allowed? How close is this unit to public transportation?) This will help you rule out some obvious “nos.” Then schedule viewings of vacancies in the same neighborhood on the same day. Give yourself at least a half-hour in between showings in case you decide to fill in an application.
Know your financial situation:
Many units, especially those owned by property management companies, will require a full credit check that includes your financial and employment history. Knowing where you stand on all fronts can significantly improve your chances of getting the place you want. Order a copy of your credit report and FICO score from any of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Chances are that landlords will charge you to run their own credit check, but having your copy will give you all the information required to complete a rental application. Some landlords will accept recent copies, and pulling your own credit does not count as an inquiry against your credit score the way it does when outside agents inquire. As for employment history, have copies of your recent pay stubs. For freelancers and students with loans, provide documents, such as bank deposit records, that prove your source(s) of income.
Be ready to provide more information:
Most rental applications will ask for your previous three places of residence. Be sure to know the addresses and move-in/move-out dates of each. Also, provide a contact name and phone number (landlord, parent, Resident Assistant in a dorm) who can vouche for your ability to pay rent on time and your history as a respectful tenant. Prior evictions, late payments, and vacating from previous residencies without providing the standard thirty days notice may count against you. Have the contact information of at least two people who can be called on as character references.
Have a timeline and a budget:
When preparing your timeline, know when your earliest move-in date is, and make sure that you give thirty day’s notice on any unit that you may be vacating. Have an idea of how long you plan to stay in the new apartment and look for units that accomodate. Lease terms can vary from month-to-month, to six months, to two years. Your budget should not only include the rent but total move-in costs, which can include first and last months rent and a security deposit. It is wise, and sometimes required, that your gross income per month be at least three times the rent.