Apartment Hunting? I Made These Mistakes So You Won't Have To (+ Downloadable Checklist)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Apartment hunting is seemingly easy enough, right? You just do a little searching, sign some papers, wait to get approved, and then move into your new home.

Well... no, not quite. And sadly, my roommate and I learned this the hard way when trying to find our first apartment in New York City about a year ago. In fact, we learned that there are a ton of things you should and should not do before and during your search.

Here are some of the steps that will be most helpful for you to follow so you can avoid what I did (and didn't) do to help save you 1) time, 2) money, and 3) your sanity:

THE DOS

FIRST, BEFORE APARTMENT VIEWING:

☐ Decide whether or not you want a roommate or roommates
☐ Set a budget
☐ Have all your paperwork together
  • Different apartments sometimes require different paperwork, but you should keep a folder of the following essentials:
    • Employment letter on company head
    • Recent pay stubs
    • Bank statements from the last 2-3 months
    • Recent W2 tax form
    • Copy of photo ID

☐ Find a guarantor or co-signer if necessary
  • If you are unemployed or do not make X amount times your rent, the building or property manager will likely require you to have a co-signer or guarantor. If this may be the case for you, make sure you have someone in mind to sign onto your lease and submit the above paperwork for said person.

☐ Make a list of wants and needs
☐ Do a thorough search on your own
  • The best way to find out about open apartments is through your network. Your friends or family members may know someone who is leaving his/her apartment or another who needs a subletter or new roommate. So ask! See if your friends know of anyone moving out soon or if their building managers have other buildings available where you can look. The easiest thing is to hear from a friend (or friend of a friend, or friend of a friend of a friend, et cetera) that they have an option for you. If after asking around absolutely no one knows of anything open or anyone who needs a roommate, get on Google. Need help online? Try one of these sites as recommended by BuzzFeed, just don't get roped into letting people you contact help you out, they'll likely charge high fees. If all else fails, pay a company to help.

To break this down:

Step 1: Ask your network
Step 2: Search online
Step 3: Turn to professionals
(if absolutely necessary)


THE DON'TS


☐ Settle on the first apartment you see

  • View at least a few options before applying to any apartments. You can always go back and apply to the first one if that ends up being the one you want.

☐ Use a broker without learning about them and their fees

  • Determine what you are willing to pay before you even look at an apartment and research what each place will charge so you are not dreaming too big. Keep it in your budget so moving in doesn't have the burden of extra expenses.

☐ Leave an apartment viewing without asking questions

  • Ask all of your questions and then some. Important questions to ask: How safe is the surrounding area? Where is the nearest grocery store/pharmacy/doctor's office/etc? What's the best mode of transportation near here? Remember: certain building managers cannot and/or will not answer some questions so doing extensive research afterward is extremely important.

CLICK HERE to download the below checklist before apartment viewing: