During the exciting search for a new place to stay apartment sellers are always sure to show you the finest points of the apartment. The many bathrooms they can offer, the different room sizes, the spacious living areas, the newest and most up to date appliances in the kitchen, or not so up to date. Once they give you a once over of the entire place the always say – “Do you have any questions?”
As a college student looking for my first real apartment all by myself this question hit me and I stood quiet, not sure what exactly I should be asking. I had never looked into an apartment before and everything they had shown me seemed pretty great. What I learned later was that I had plenty of questions I should have been asking; I just blanked. So when looking for your own apartment that seems to offer just about everything you want remember these top 5 questions you must ask during the open questions portion of the apartment viewing.
Top 5 questions you must ask
Parking: parking is one of the most overlooked question when renting apartments, you’re too busy looking at the inside to worry about what would be going on outside. If you have a car its going to need to go somewhere, so make sure to ask if there is a garage, parking spot that’s guaranteed for you, or some system of parking. Sometimes apartment complexes will give you stickers identifying you are allowed to park in this area. Sometimes you are given your own designated spot. Worst case scenario; you aren’t guaranteed any parking and you will have to fight for the parking spots directly out front of your complex or be stuck walking miles from your car to your home. No one wants to be walking home alone late at night just because there were no openings for you by your house. Be sure to ask for parking or at least nearest bus stop so that you are sure to be close to your home within seconds.
Washer / Dryer: Unless you’re perfectly happy with re-wearing your old clothes from last week and or buying unlimited amounts of clothes, you’re going to need a washer and dryer. Be sure to ask where the nearest washer and dryer or laundromat is. Best case scenario you have your own personal washer and dryer inside your apartment and you don’t have to worry or there is a laundromat on site at your complex that is easily accessible and –hopefully- free. Worst case scenario, you’re walking a mile down the street with your laundry basket full looking like a bag lady and you’re pulling quarters out of couches to pay for your wash cycle. If you’re lucky enough to have laundry on site, make sure you know which machines work best, because there’s nothing worse than waiting three hours for one load of laundry to dry.
Amenities: one of the best ways to sell an apartment is telling potential buyers that all they have to pay for is rent + electricity. Which you then think “oh that isn’t bad at all” until you find out that everything in your apartment runs on electricity and you’re paying an extra $200 a month because you’re a normal human being who uses light and likes to cook the occasional meal on a stove. Make sure when apartment shopping you ask what the extra amenities are you will be paying. Do you have to pay for gas? Do you have to pay electricity? What runs on electricity? What about water? How much is a typical monthly bill for amenities? All little details that can be left out because it automatically ups the price and sellers don’t want you to see how much an actual cost can be.
Visitors: Every once in awhile everyone will have a visitor, friends who come to visit, family, the overnight guest, whomever they may be, if they choose to stay you want to know if that will be allowed. Most complexes don’t have any law against this but to make sure you want to ask. If you have visitors can they park for free? Is there a certain amount of days that they can stay? Is there anything you should know about having visitors? You don’t want your family to come up for a weekend only to find their car gone the next morning because there is no visitor parking. You should be able to have people come visit whenever you want, some complexes are afraid of free couch surfers and thus make rules allowing visitors to stay only a certain amount of days, be sure you know all about their policy before you sign anything.
Security: One of the most important things to always ask is about security. Where is the closest police office? Fire station? Is there some sort of security system in tact here? You want to be close enough to a police station or fire station so that you know if something were to go wrong how long it would take for rescue to come. You want to be in a location that you feel safe. If you were stuck walking home at 2AM by yourself, would you feel safe doing so? If not you may want to rethink before you sign.
Also, in some cases they may ask for renters insurance, be sure to know what they are asking for before you sign. In some cases sellers try to rob renters by making them pay thousands of unnecessary dollars in renters insurance that isn’t needed. If there is a renters insurance needed before signing be sure that you’re not paying for more than the stuff you own is actually worth.
Renting apartments should be an exciting new chapter in your life, be sure to have some questions in mind so that you end up with the place you have always wanted. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that you want to know about; after all you could be the future tenant of this apartment. Make sure you see yourself living there, are comfortable with everything the place has to offer you, and most importantly –you feel safe. With these few simple questions in mind you are on a fast track to finding a place you can call home.