So, it’s time to start the renting process for your first apartment. You’re excited, but overwhelmed, and you don’t know where to start. Here’s a quick guide to get you through the process.
Research Research Research
When renting your first apartment, there are key questions you need to ask yourself. Where do you want to live? What are the housing prices there? Do you have a car or do you need a walkable city? Do you commute via public transit? Where is the closest train station? Will you need parking?
Do the math
What is your budget? Renting your first apartment changes your budget drastically, you may even be writing a budget for the first time during this process. When in doubt, remember the 30% rule. 30%-35% of your household income should be the sweet spot for rent, but don’t forget about utilities! Now is a great time to take a look at your general spending and see where you need to be spending less, in order to afford apartment living!
Knowing your credit score is almost as important as your income. Most apartment communities, and private landlords alike, will have a minimum requirement for your credit score, and will likely run a credit check before approving your application. Credit Karma is a great (and free) resource for monitoring your credit.
Now that you know where you want to live and what rent fits your lifestyle, you can start the search. Lists are helpful to keep you focused and to remind you what filters you’ll be using on rental sites. When searching for your first apartment, make a list of things you absolutely cannot live without so you remember what to look for, and a list of things that might be nice, but you don’t need, so you can remind yourself during your tours.
Take a peak
You’re ready to really dive in! You are officially starting to search for your first apartment! Start with apartment listing sites such as Zillow.com, explore the options in your desired area, and take a tour. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and to take a thorough look around.
Don’t skimp on the tours, either. The more apartments you tour (either in person or virtually), the better an idea you’ll have of what is available and what you’re looking for.
Phone a friend
Did you find your dream apartment, and it’s just slightly out of budget? Are you finding that there are no apartments available for your specific income? Don’t panic! You should consider a roommate. This is not a task to be taken lightly, and should not be a rushed decision, but finding the right person to share an apartment with can be the ticket in! It may also be nice to have a friend when renting your first apartment, as you won’t be alone in the learning curves!
If an apartment offer seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Be on the lookout for fake or dishonest listings.
Many scam listings will have very similar verbiage in the listing itself, or in the initial response to your request for tour. Things like being unable to view the unit, or being requested to mail money without a tour, in person meeting, or lease, can be red flags to look out for. When in doubt, call the property management company directly to confirm the available apartment is in fact their listing. Scams depend on people like you, new to renting an apartment, to fall for the trick.
The Tough Stuff
The application has been submitted and you’ve been approved. This is an exciting feat, but there is still a lease to be signed. We all love a good skim when it comes to terms and conditions, but a lease agreement and contract need a closer look. They are legally binding documents and should merit a diligent read through. Familiarize yourself with rules, regulations, fees, and conditions.
Your first apartment experience is exciting, and with these tips and tricks, you can avoid much of the First-Time-Renter-Scaries! Still confused about where to start? Princeton Properties has your back. A leasing agent is just a call away to help you in your search.