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Tips On Apartment Hunting

Timing is Crucial
The housing market is competitive, especially for affordable apartments. Be prepared to make decisions quickly and be flexible by a week or two with your plans. Start your search no earlier than four weeks before your desired move-in date since tenants are not required to give landlords more than 30 days’ notice of their move-out dates. Make apartment hunting your life for two or three weeks - that should be enough time to get familiar with the market and find what you are looking for.

Focus Your Search According to Your Budget
Sometimes you will likely be forced to make compromises in your choice because of an expensive housing market  Monthly rents will vary depending on several factors; the most important of which is location, followed by apartment size and then amenities.

Decide if You Are Willing to Share an Apartment – You can cut costs by sharing a large one bedroom. 
Consider Where You Can Afford to Live -
Determine What Size Apartment Fits Your Budget and What Amenities You Can Do Without - Squeezing into a smaller apartment than your ideal and a willingness to accept some commonly perceived flaws such as street noise or lack of view or natural light may save you some money.  In addition, rents will vary with the type of building in which the apartment is located such as whether or not the building has a doorman or an elevator.

Methods of Searching - Fee v. No Fee Rentals
If you can afford to pay a broker's fee, searching with a broker is highly recommended for convenience. Brokers can give you an overview of the market, guide you in your search, and facilitate the paperwork for you. Some landlords list apartment availabilities exclusively through brokers.

Brokers charge a commission for their services.  It can  range from one month's rent to 12% of the year's rent. The fee is payable only at the time of lease signing.

If you prefer not to pay a broker's fee, "no fee" searching options include:

Classified Ads - look for ads that say "no fee" or "by owner" as well as ads for sublets and shares.
Landlords and Management Companies - Call directly and ask for a list of their vacancies. 

Financial Requirements and What to Bring on Your Apartment Search
In order to rent an apartment, you will be asked to complete an application, by your prospective landlord. You may also be required to pay  for credit reports and/or application fees. Landlords want to see evidence of steady income and good credit.

Financial Requirements - Most landlords require that the prospective tenant have an income equal to 40-45 times the monthly rent in annual salary (combined income is used for roommates). You and your roommate will need to have all of your income verification paperwork readily available upon application for an apartment.
If you are a full time student or do not meet all the financial requirements, most landlords will require a lease co-signer or guarantor. A guarantor is an individual, typically a family member, who lives in the U.S.  Guarantors are asked to disclose detailed financial information and have a credit report run on them as part of the approval process. The guarantor's income needs to be at least 75 times the monthly rent and they will also need to submit the paperwork listed below.

Funds - When the landlord approves your apartment application, be prepared to pay the first month's rent and the security deposit upon lease signing. Most landlords require that these funds be paid in the form of separate certified checks or money orders.

An additional certified check or money order will be required at the time of lease signing to pay the broker's fee, if applicable.

Necessary Documents - Bring the following items with you when you start looking for apartments:
Letter from your current employer stating your salary or from a CPA if you are a freelance worker or a business owner
First two pages of last year's tax return
Most recent bank statement(s), bank account numbers and credit card numbers
Most recent pay stub(s)
Names, addresses and phone numbers of previous landlords
Names, addresses and phone numbers of personal and business references
Photo I.D. such as driver's license or passport

Leases are important for clarification of the responsibilities of the landlord and tenant. If you don't have a lease, the landlord could ask you to leave or raise your rent on short notice. In addition, factors, such as when your rent is due, if pets are allowed and who is responsible for maintenance need to be clear. The type of lease you will be asked to sign can vary with the type of apartment and building in which it is located.  Any changes to the standard lease are usually included in a separate lease rider. Leases are for one or two years and generally begin on the 1st or the 15th of the month.

Typically, the apartment will be unfurnished and will be located in a rental building that is owned by the landlord. Some apartments may be protected by rent regulations. A rent-regulated apartment is subject to limits on the amount that owners can raise the rent for vacant apartments and renewals of existing leases. Tenants in rent-regulated apartments have the right to renew the lease provided they’re in compliance with all lease terms and conditions. Rent-regulated tenants have the right to sublease the apartment with the landlord's permission.


Apartment Hunting Tips for Students

One of the complex problems for a student is to find a new place to live. The process of searching a home includes several factors such as location, lease terms, amenities and affordability. Though the process is exhausting, the students have to find a place on their own.

The apartment hunting tips help the students organize their home search. To make their dream come true, students can try the tips listed below.

Start your search early

If you want to reside in an apartment nearer to the campus, begin searching for the home months in advance.

Apartment Hunting is work

The home search process can be made cost effective by following these tips:
Contact the student housing office and investigate university-owned housing options.
Try through famous bulletin boards and posting locations near the campus.
Search the neighborhoods near campus for “For Rent” signs.
Look for apartment listings in local news papers and enquire for the home quickly.
Do not approach any real estate agent and apartment locators as they charge high cost.

Know what you're looking for and how much you can afford

Go for financial plan based on rent cost, utilities, and phone. Then decide the facilities required that includes an air-conditioner, a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer. Some times you need to pay the first and last month rent included with security deposit. You can also live with one or more roommates to reduce expenses and enjoy the social aspects of student life.

Transit and Transportation

Find out whether your campus is at a walk able distance from the apartment and convenient to public transportation. Also check for your vehicle security and parking facilities.

Peace and quiet, safe and secure

Choose an apartment that is secure, comfortable and located in a quite area. Also ensure the security measures of the apartment such as locks.

Inspect the place carefully

Before choosing the apartment, enquire about its location. Examine the basic necessities in kitchen, bathroom etc. and the cleanliness. Check for leakages or damage in the areas like sinks and toilets. Also ensure the ventilation of the apartment. Take opinion from other residents of the apartment regarding the maintenance and other services.

Sign on the dotted line and get it in writing

Read the lease agreement thoroughly before signing. You can also take help of your parents or relatives. Ask the landlord for repairs and do not forget to get these in writing. You can sign the agreement after carefully investigating.