Happy Hunting Season readers! Not only is it deer hunting season (we’re from the Midwest, it’s a thing), it’s also time to start hunting for your next apartment home should you plan to move in the next 12 months!
Apartment hunting can be exhausting, overwhelming, and one of those things no one looks forward to. Kind of like going to the dentist. But it doesn’t have to be! If you give yourself the time and consideration to thoughtfully look for your next home, you can find the perfect home that you’ll never want to leave!
From when to look and how, to what questions to ask, I’m going to share some helpful tips with you to help turn your next home hunt from dreadful to rewarding!
When should you look?
Ok, cliché I know, but it really is never too early to look. To truly find your perfect home, you’ll want to get a head start on what’s out there.
Ask yourself… What area of the city do I want to end up in? Do I want to be surrounded by liveliness, or do I want my home to feel like a retreat from the hustle and bustle? How far do I want my commute to be? Do I want to be able to walk to the grocery store, or the gym?
If you take the time to research what is around your next apartment, you’ll be far more likely to love all that your apartment has to offer… which includes its location!
Once you’ve narrowed down your ideal location, you can dig deeper on specific apartment communities within that area. Contact the property to schedule a tour or take a swing by the community at night. How long does it take someone to get back to you, are the lights working after dark? Seemingly little details can showcase the care that management takes of their customers and property.
So, you’ve now narrowed down a handful of perfect communities in the perfect location. Industry standard requires residents to provide a 2-4 months’ notice. Therefore, I strongly recommend actively looking and applying to rent an apartment 6 months prior to your move in date. Although there may not be a specific apartment available to apply for *just yet*, you can apply to be added to the waiting list! This will give you peace of mind knowing that you have priority to choose the next available apartment that fits your needs! Once that new home is available, you can secure the lease 2-4 months before your big move (and take that sigh of relief you’ve been holding onto).
Sure, ideally you’re looking 12 months ahead, applying for the waitlist 6 months out, and then securing your new home 3 months before… but life isn’t often ideal, is it? I realize life moves quickly. If you find yourself looking to move within the next month or two, again, don’t shy away from the waitlist just because a unit isn’t available right now. Things change daily in our industry with people needing to move for jobs, home purchases, you name it. There is always a chance that something will come available tomorrow that isn’t available today! And most often, there is no financial risk to you for being added to a waitlist (we’ll talk more on that in questions to ask).
What should you be asking, you ask?
We, your management team, will have the go to questions such as when you’re looking to move, what size apartment home you’re looking for, if you have pets, etc. But what should you be asking to help ensure you end up with the apartment of your dreams?
First, it’s helpful to understand the property’s policies regarding leases. A few questions to clarify that could be:
- “What months do most leases expire?” OR “How many 2 bedroom leases expire before August” (if you’re looking for a 2 bedroom for 8/1 for example).
- This will narrow down the likelihood of a two bedroom coming available.
- “How much notice do you require?”
- This will tell you how far in advance you will firmly know if something is available.
- “Do you allow subletting?”
- This will give you an idea of if something will open up even if it’s not a typical month that apartments become available.
Next, it’s helpful to understand the application process. For example, you’ll want to know upfront any fees associated with the application. What if you apply and back out, do you get a full, partial, or no refund? How long do you have to decide to sign the lease after you’ve been approved? How long does it take to get approved once you apply? By fully understanding the application from start to finish, you’ll have less surprises when making your final decision!
Lastly, make a list of what’s important to you so that you know what questions to ask, and so that you don’t forget to ask them at each community! For example, if sunlight is important to you because you have plants or whatever your reason, make a note to ask what direction any particular apartment home faces. The last thing you want is to spend an entire year coming home to a north facing apartment with no sunlight. Or, vice versa, maybe you want that northern exposure because you work nights and want it as dark as possible!
There’s truly a home out there for everyone! So, once you have a list of must haves or what’s important for you, create questions that (hopefully) get you to the result you want. Obviously it may be hard to check everything off of your list, but at least it’s a great start!
Bonus Tip: If you’ve ever asked, “what type of people live here” or “what are your demographics like,” and received a generic response, please know we legally cannot answer this question. While we understand the intention behind the question, by answering, we could violate to fair housing laws as it can be seen as profiling or steering.
What resources should you use?
With so many choices and things to consider, where do you even begin your search? A great place to start is by researching management companies themselves. You want to ensure you have a positive living experience, and that starts with how the property is managed, maintained, and cared for! Read testimonials, reviews, blogs (hint hint).
If you’re local and already have experience with a company, you could start directly on their website, like ours www.GallinaCompanies.com. Or, if you’re looking to explore apartments in an unfamiliar city, you may want to start with a more generic search through online resources such as MadisonApartmentLiving.com or Apartments.com.
Either way, once you find a property, the best way to connect is to speak directly with a leasing representative for that property. Whether that be via email or phone, they will have the most accurate information regarding availability, pricing, and answers to your questions.
Now that you’ve got your how to(s), look ahead to your next apartment search with excitement and the feeling that you are in control. You WILL find the perfect apartment for YOU!
And did I mentioned we own, operate, and manage several communities that are sure to exceed your expectations? I didn’t? Huh, check us out here. 😉