Like anything that’s important to you, before you begin hunting for an apartment you need to prepare yourself and do your research. I know I’m a kill-joy. It’s way more fun to go apartment shopping first, right? I agree! It is and I do it for a living.
The thing is the current rental market is swamped with potential renters. Right now, a cardboard box in the woods would get inundated with applications. Standard apartments are moving in days. Houses…sooner. Anything certified deleaded might not even make it onto the market. You have to be ready to snap up a place the second you’re sure about a place. Seriously, I mean right at the showing, if you’ve done your homework. It’s not that impossible.
I advise my prospective tenants to come prepared before we even book a tour. I either give them or email them a generic rental application and have them fill it out. Then I advise them to get their credit score. The three major agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion will provide you with a free credit report once a year. Combine proof of income and a photo ID too. Once you have them all, scan them into one document. That way with a touch of a button(I Love SmartPhones!!!!) You’re ready to instantly respond if they discover their perfect palace. That’ll impress the landlord and his agent as well. Not a small consideration.
I know some of you are saying: My credit score is so low. I’ll never get a place. Not necessarily. You’ve heard me say it before. A smart landlord isn’t looking just at the overall score. He’s looking at a pattern. Is a lower score the cause of, umm, a sudden medical issue? Or does it look like a pattern of neglected bills and bad resource management. Everyone knows that we all get blindsided my Murphy’s Law once in awhile. It happens. A person who can take the hit and recover? That’s a keeper for most, so don’t give up.
So, next step in the planning……What do you need? What do you want and what will you put up with? Here’s some questions you want to consider.
1. Location, Location, Location. How close to work do you need/want to be? Is proximity to annoying relatives an issue? Most people know exactly what town, even what area of a town, they want. To those little wanderers that can’t make up your minds: Pick four towns for your target area. Larger searches are possible, but the lists can be huge and great opportunities can get lost in the pile and you can be overwhelmed by the volume. Suddenly it’s not fun anymore.
2. What interior features do you need? How many bedrooms? Need an office too? Lots of kids? 1.5 or more bathrooms might be in order.
3. Do you have a pet? What Kind? Is it a small de-clawed house cat or is a 200 lb St Bernhard? “No Pets” policies aren’t always real strict and it never hurts to ask. The trouble is: which animal has the better chance of winning over an animal phobic landlord? Hey! I am a dog lover. I’m just being realistic. This is a real issue, some towns around here have a ban on large dogs. I’m not kidding they do.
4. Do you smoke? Think you can give it up at home for the perfect Non-smoking rental opportunity? Most can’t. One thing you never say to listing agent or landlord is: “Don’t worry about it. I can smoke outside.” They now envision you loitering around outside the building with either a scattering of discarded butts or makeshift ashtray. You can almost see the guy mentally make a checkmark. You need to know how far you’ll, if you even can, bend to meet the landlord’s demands.
5. Do you need a certified deleaded rental? Does the tenant have a child under 6. If there is a child under six taking up permanent residence or expected sporadic residence(custody) that would require a certified deleaded place or a certified treated one. That’s something we can filter out for when putting the list of rentals to visit together. Remember a deleaded place will fly off the market soonest. If you spot one and like it, you need to be able to jump.
6. What makes the perfect rental? A pool? Gated Community? On-site Laundry? Utilities included in the rent? What could you live without if you had too? Seriously think about this not just now at the beginning of the search. Sacrifices will start putting on serious weight after a couple of weeks. What can you really put up with?
7. Are you willing to pay a non-refundable application fee? If so, how much?
OK, the foundation is laid. Application and credit issues have been discussed and strategies are in place. We know what you want, what you need and what you can live with. We also know where we’re going to find it. Ready to Ride!!!!
Take your photo Id with you. Some places keep it in the office while you visit the apartment. Most require it with the rental application. Either way, best to have it with you.
Take note of the length of the ride and the scenery. Is this you’re type of neighborhood? If you’re from the city and don’t like the woods, The house over by Ames Nowell State Park is probably a bad idea, even if it is real close to work. Light sleeper? Living next to the Whitman MBTA station isn’t going to too much fun. Note especially how long it took you to get there. How far away are the most important places in your life? Are they too far?
Take a notebook with you. Note everything. Write questions for your agent, the landlord, your builder friend, your dad, anybody. Keep the book with you and write down inspirations and realization that hit you. You need to adjust your search or have your agent know what revelations you’ve discovered.
While you’re there, take note of the surroundings carefully. Some things to consider are:
1. Parking situation: Layout, lighting, restrictions, location of refuse containers and common areas, state of the landscaping and exterior of the building.
2. What are the people like? A lot of crabbiness or just sunshine and light. One or two sourpusses could just happen. A pattern of crowds of unhappiness is concerning.
3. Get a copy of the by-laws or sample lease. Get an idea of what your responsibilities will be.
You are now so ready to enjoy the ride and it is fun. The preparation you just did, will brace you for the highs and lows, keeping you steady so you can truly evaluate how well you and a place fit together. Have Fun!!!!
Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise! Contact me today for a market analysis of your house!
I service the following towns in South Shore MA: Whitman, Hanson, Brockton, Rockland, Abington, Pembroke, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Easton, Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy MA.
Lew McConkey can get you the latest properties that are on the market
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