Since becoming a full-fledged adult (or at least playing one on the Internet) I’ve been a homeowner, a renter and a landlord. Basically, I’ve been scattered all over the real estate map. Currently, the calendar is marching towards the expiration date on my lease, but I’m not feeling keen on renewing. So, I’m on the prowl for a new space. I’ve weighed the whole buying versus renting debate, but I think I’m going to stick with renting for the immediate future.
In my experience, looking at apartment, condos and rental homes is a vastly different experience than examining a home that’s for sale. When you are contemplating buying, you work with a professional, you visit the location multiple times and peer into every nook and cranny, and then you have several extensive inspections done before you make any commitments.
On the other hand, when you look for an apartment or a rental unit, you can have everything done in a quick afternoon. You roll up, solo, to your potential new home and the leasing agent gives you a quick tour before hustling you off to sign a contract. You can be and out and ready to pack in a couple of hours, depending on how snappy they are with processing the paperwork. On move-in day you can wind up feeling like you are headed to a strange and unknown place, rather than your new home. To make the process easier, and to help you get the most from the apartment seeking process, here are a few tips for inspecting and getting to know a potential home.
I can’t say this one enough. Too often rental agents will try to rush you through the process. True, they are busy professionals and are often the solitary staff person in the office, abandoning the phone line to take you on a tour of the facility. But, you are about to sign a yearlong commitment, so you want to be sure you feel comfortable. Strap on your comfy Nike fitness shoes and walk the entire complex to check out the landscaping and the public areas, such as the pool, gym and laundry facility. Then, spend ample time in the apartment. You’ll be spending all your days and nights there soon enough, so make sure you like the lighting, the floor plan and the layouts of the bathroom and kitchen.
Pay attention to the entryway
It sounds like a cliché, but first impressions are important. One of the biggest differences between a single-family home and an apartment is the entry areas. While a house usually has a lovely front door for guests and a more casual garage or mudroom, apartments typically have a single entrance. That means that you will be coming entering, taking off your coat and kicking off your Ugg boots in the front of your home. To make sure you are comfortable and that the space stays pristine, look for an apartment that has sufficient foyer and a handy coat closet.
Consider the storage
One of the biggest selling features for any home is the amount of storage. Let’s be honest, we all have stuff and it’s hard to part with. Many apartments have scanty storage, especially in the kitchen and master closet. Before you go look at potential apartments, jot down measurements for you furniture and any unwieldy things you need to store, like oversized pots. Take along a measuring tape and ensure that the kitchen cabinets are ample enough for all your gadgets and appliances.
In the master closet, take an inventory of the types of space and organization that is available. Ideally you’ll want multi-layered hanging space for tops and pants, as well as single-layer hanging racks for long dresses and skirts. You’ll also want shelve space for all those tees and sweaters that don’t hang well. Be sure to also check that there are shoe cubbies or other options for stowing away your collection of colorful Converse and the pretty heels you picked up at Boston Proper.
Inspect your actual apartment
Occasionally, leasing agents will have a model unit near the office that they show to potential tenants, rather than walking through the complex to the actual unit that is available. This saves time and energy during the rental process, but it does not give you an accurate feel for your new home. Because a model does not go through the same wear and tear as a lived-in unit, it is likely to be in better condition than the apartment you end up in. A model is fine for establishing an initial impression, but insist on seeing the actual apartment you will inhabit before signing a contract.