Viewing an Apartment: Factors to Consider

For most people who are apartment hunting, the first impression they receive from the viewing of the apartment has a huge effect on whether they choose to rent the place or not.

For this reason, real estate agents and property owners in areas with high property vacancy rates often try hard to woo potential renters at apartment viewings by staging apartments and highlighting the unit’s positives.

Apartment viewings are the best chance you will have to scour the apartment and ask relevant questions with the agent or owner present. Whether you view potential properties as one of the first steps or as one of the last steps of your apartment search process, there are some questions you should keep in mind during your next viewing depending on your home expectations, price range and area.

Regardless of how you choose to approach them, apartment viewings can be the most important deciding factor when it comes to choosing your next home. Read on for questions and considerations you should keep in mind when evaluating a future living space.

Property Concerns

While you may be burning with contract-related questions or other technical details about the agreement, it is generally best to start with property-related concerns when at a viewing. This is because the viewing may be the only time you are able to see the property in person before coming to a decision, so actual physical issues with the apartment should be concentrated on for this meeting. This strategy also works best for group apartment viewings when your opportunity to speak with the property owner or listing agent is limited. Try to find answers to the following sorts of questions the next time you view an available apartment.

Questions Regarding the Building Itself

You can learn a lot about a property by closely looking at the building. With some attention to details, you may be able to learn about the history of the building and the lifestyle of its inhabitants. Think about these building-related questions:

  • Is the property safe? How many layers of security are there before entering the apartment? Are there bars on the windows? Who has the keys to the building? Is there a system to buzz in guests? You should also trust your gut instinct on whether you feel safe in the area or not. If you are on the fence, try visiting the area at night to see how you feel.
  • Is there a security system? Are there video cameras? Is it a monitored system? Are the locks secure? Is there a clearly visible escape route in case of a fire? What about fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, etc.? Consider what level of security would make you feel comfortable in the area and make sure the building can offer it to you.
  • Are there any private green spaces for the building? These include gardens and courtyards? Are they enclosed? Do they allow pets? If you enjoy spending time outdoors, this is a very important factor to consider.
  • Are there signs of structural damage? Look for signs of damp or flaking paint, animal infestations, etc. Black marks on the building could indicate that it has been through a fire.
  • Are public areas clean and in good working order? How often are they cleaned or maintained? Some buildings offer communal meeting and game areas, but they are not very useful if they are not kept in good working order.
  • Does the building have central heating? Does it have a separate water system or anything similar that links all of the building’s units together? This is important to know because if it is an old, interlinked building, there are higher chances that problems may regularly occur with plumbing and the like.

Questions About the Inside of the Apartment

Along the same lines, you can learn a great deal about what it will be like to live in an apartment by finding out as much as you can about the inside of the apartment. Although you will need to do a thorough inspection of your apartment once you move in, do not overlook these important questions at your next apartment viewing:

  • Does it need any repairs? If so, who will do them and when? Is the furniture in good condition? If the property owner was late for your appointment, for example, you may want to think twice about their promise to quickly repair any damaged areas or items.
  • Do the air conditioners and radiators function properly? Is the apartment properly insulated? Are the windows double paneled?
  • Does the electricity work as expected? Look for signs of exposed wires or faulty plugs. If you need high levels of electricity or multiple outlets, look into these aspects as well.
  • How fast and dependable is the Wi-Fi? If you depend on Wi-Fi for work or even just recreation, dependable Wi-Fi is key. You can search online for reported speeds or do a quick test yourself to find out how good the Wi-Fi is in a certain apartment or even room.
  • Do all appliances work in the kitchen and bathroom? Are the kitchen and bathroom adequately aerated and clean? If you end up with in an apartment with a broken washing machine, weak bathroom light and a stove that does not work, you will wish you had tested out these various features before signing the rental contract.
  • Do all the faucets and showers work? Does the water heat up quickly and stay warm? Do sinks and tubs drain as they should? Make sure you will not end up in the dead of winter with faulty heating and frozen water.
  • Can you repaint or significantly redecorate the apartment to your own tastes? Could you lose your security deposit for any changes? Make sure your individuality will not end up costing you.

Rental Agreement Questions

Beyond the typical information that you must know about an apartment, including its monthly rent and number of bedrooms, there are other rental contract questions that may not be so easily answered from the original listing or conversation with a property owner. Depending on your situation, you may want to consider asking some of the following questions about the lease during your next viewing:

  • What is the apartment’s guest policy? Some buildings require all guests to check in, limit the number of guests you can have at any one time or impose other similar restrictions on tenants for the safety of the community. In some cases, guests may have to speak to someone for parking permission as well.
  • Is the home covered by insurance? This is another question that will vary significantly from area to area based on local and state laws. If you are moving to an area where comprehensive insurance is optional instead of mandatory, you should ask for details about the policy on the apartment to make sure it will meet your needs.
  • Are you allowed to sublet? Subletting apartments has become quite popular in the last decade, causing many city governments and building boards to create regulations that limit and sometimes completely ban subletting. If you think you may ever need to sublet your place, make sure you are clear about whether or not you can do so legally.
  • What is the apartment’s year renewal rate? Your necessity to ask this question will depend a great deal on where you are moving to. Especially in big cities, property owners often increase the rent of their properties in a regular basis to stay in sync with current market real estate values. If you are living in one of these areas, you will want to know how much you can expect the rental rate to increase if you want to stay in the apartment after the lease expires.
  • What penalties will you face for breaking the lease? It is very common for people to move around the country relatively often for work and other needs. Whether you are sure that you will have to break your lease or you think there is no way that could happen to you, you should know what it will cost you to break the contract, as well as any other relevant details about the lease. You will probably lose your security deposit, but paying two-month rent penalty charge, for example, may be excessive.

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