1. Read the Lease. Contrary to popular belief, the lease is a legally binding contract and it isn’t like accepting iTunes terms and conditions. You need to know what the contract says; is a 60-day notice required, does the lease automatically renew, what if you need to break your lease? These are all things someone should know before moving in.
2. Drive Time. If looking for an apartment over the weekend, odds are the traffic is going to be much different at 8 a.m. when you are on your way to work and 6 p.m. when you are on your way home. You should also take construction into consideration.
3. Go Pro. Not all apartment communities are created equally. There is a major living environment difference between communities that are professionally managed and those that are not professionally managed. Easy ways to tell if the property is professionally managed is in their website design, their social media presence and their use of technology.
4. Consider Curb Appeal. Take a look at the landscaping and the amenities. If the property is kept clear of trash and the amenities are in top-notch shape, odds are they have excellent maintenance- and your maintenance concerns will be taken seriously, too.
5. Weigh the Reviews. Take reviews with a grain of salt. Many studies show that more people are willing to leave negative reviews than positive reviews even if their service is great
6. Beware of Badmouthing. If the property you are visiting is talking negatively about their competition, chances are they are trying to hide something. If their product is truly superior, they shouldn’t mind that you are checking out the competition.
7. Love the Leasing Pro. I am a strong believer that the leasing consultant sets the stage not only for the tour but also for the duration of your lease. If the leasing consultant is excited, passionate, and personable, the likelihood that your living experience will be enjoyable is higher than with a leasing consultant who acts bothered by you being there.
8. Visit After Hours. You can tell a lot about a property by driving it after hours. Is there ample parking at 6 p.m. when everyone is returning home from work? If you see a resident, ask them to share their experiences.
9. Don’t Get Fooled. If you are only shown a model, make sure you ask all the right questions. In many cases, if the community’s occupancy is in the mid-90s, they might not have your exact apartment to show you. The last thing you want to do is rent a “standard” apartment with the expectation of the model that has all the upgrades.
10. Look for Red Flags. If you haven’t even selected your apartment and you are already having trouble getting the office to answer the phone or answer your e-lead, odds are you are going to have trouble getting in touch with them once you are a resident.