If you want to land a competitive rental, apartment viewing etiquette should be a top priority. Everyone wants to apply for a place and receive the keys tomorrow, but it isn’t that easy. The landlord or broker needs to sell the apartment, and you need to do the same – for yourself! Otherwise, they’ll choose the next interested person.
Here are a few tips on how to stand out from the crowd.
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1. Schedule an Appointment
For the most part, potential tenants can’t view an apartment without notice. Some complexes offer open houses or walk-ins, but it’s typically common courtesy to contact the real estate agent and schedule an appointment. After you find a few apartments that you want to see, make sure to call or email whoever’s listed their name on the post. Then, find a time slot that works best for both of you.
2. Design a Checklist
It’s essential to prepare before you visit an apartment. Like any interview, you want to come with questions and knowledge about the space! Put together a checklist that covers each topic, from monthly rent to square footage to late fees. You should also ask about aspects that don’t seem immediately obvious. For example, what’s the typical response time for maintenance requests? Take this checklist to your visit so that you can write down answers and reference them later.
3. Consider Your Credit Score
Before a property manager can approve renters for an apartment, they need to conduct background and credit score checks. This information protects them because they can gauge whether or not you’ll pay rent on time. Most landlords won’t approve your application unless your credit score reaches 650 points or more, so take a look beforehand.
You can see if there’s a discrepancy to fix or if you need to raise your credit score altogether. You’re entitled to a free check once a year, so it’s smart to look ahead of time. Then, you’re ready for any inquiries or concerns from potential landlords.
4. Arrive Early
You don’t want to wait outside for an hour – but when you show up 10 minutes beforehand, the landlord should know that you’re serious. This time also allows you to see the outside of the apartment by yourself. Take a few moments to walk up and down the street. Ask yourself questions about safety, transportation and noise so that you know what’s to come. The more you observe, the better!
If you want, you could chat with residents to find out more information. After all, they live there. Most of the time, the broker or landlord doesn’t. In any case, arrive at the appointment early enough. You’ll look professional, which makes a massive difference.
5. Be as Prepared as Possible
At your appointment, it’s crucial to show your best self. You’ve brought your checklist and seen your credit score – and now’s your time to shine. Here are a few tips on the most important items to take so that you have an ideal experience:
- Bring your spouse or roommate: If you plan to rent with others, make sure that they’re present. Otherwise, capture a lot of pictures and videos.
- Take the correct documents: These papers include tax forms, bank statements and employment history. You’ll need your checkbook and references, too. You may not use these materials, but you should prepare to pay and sign at any moment.
- Mention your assets: Landlords want to know about their renters, so don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. You’re reliable, tidy and quiet, right? Try not to sell yourself too much, but a few comments make a difference.
Of course, you want to remember to conduct a thorough overview of the apartment. Look under sinks and behind counters for possible bug problems. Check the faucets and toilets for water pressure. Then, ask the real estate agent if you can tour the rest of the building. You don’t want to find out that you can hear people pick up their mail after you sign a lease.
6. Send a Follow-Up Message
After you leave, send the landlord a follow-up message. If you liked the apartment but couldn’t sign immediately, try to set up another appointment. You need to maintain consistent interest so that the broker doesn’t forget about you. That said, maybe this specific place wasn’t for you. In that case, you should still write a quick thank you note. After all, they took time out of their day to help.
You may want to ask about other rentals, too. You can still maintain a relationship with the real estate agent, even if you weren’t a fan of this apartment.
How to Handle Virtual Apartment Tours
Of course, not every apartment tour can be conducted in-person. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, an increasing number of renters and landlords are turning to virtual apartment tours as a technological alternative to meeting in person. Popular options include online photos and 3D tours, personalized walkthroughs using a live video platform and introductory chats over apps like Zoom and Google Meet.
If you’re taking a virtual tour, apartment viewing etiquette is still important to consider. In fact, most of the advice for in-person visits still applies to tech-based tours — with a few added notes.
Timeliness and professionalism will help you build trust from the get-go, so make sure your tech is ready well before your scheduled meeting. Choose a clean backdrop for your video chat, as you don’t want to reveal a messy rental to a prospective landlord. Then, review your list of questions and expand upon it to make up for the fact that you won’t experience the space in person. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better look at the apartment interior, a water pressure test and a peek in each closet. It’s important to get a feel for the apartment before you sign a lease.
Finally, many property managers are offering move-in concessions to make up for a current drop in apartment hunting. Check whether your potential lease offers a free month’s rent, reduced rates or other perks meant to land new renters. Ask clarifying questions if you’re not clear on the terms — it’s not impolite to advocate for yourself in a lease negotiation.
Apartment Viewing Etiquette for Renters
An apartment hunt can feel like a job interview, so it’s always essential to show your best self. Prepare your questions, show up on time and handle negotiations politely.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advocate for yourself, of course. However, in a competitive market, you don’t want anything to count your application out. Apartment viewing etiquette can help you gloss over issues and start off on the right foot with a potential landlord. When you’re prepared, determined and respectful, you’ll get a leg up in finding your dream place.