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Finding a Place to Live

Searching for a new place is exciting, but it can also be difficult knowing where to start, especially if it is something you have never done before.

Renting for the first time can be just as intimidating as buying a home for the first time. Whether or not you are searching for a long-term home, there are certain factors to consider in order to find the place that is right for you.

How to Find a Place to Buy

When finding a home to purchase, there are several important factors to consider. Buying a home is one of the largest and most important financial steps you will take in life. Homeownership is much more expensive than renting, at least in the short term, so it is crucial to determine if purchasing a home is a step you are ready to take and that your chosen home will meet your needs in the long term. As a homeowner, you will be responsible for all expenses involving your home, including taxes, insurance and maintenance costs. Your monthly expenses will more than likely be greater than just your mortgage payment, so it is important to figure out what you can afford before settling on a place.

For most home buyers, the first step to purchasing a home is shopping for a loan. Being pre-approved for a loan gives the buyer a price range, which helps to narrow down the search for a home. Aside from the budget, there are other factors to consider before choosing a house. The location of a home is important as it relates to commuting, safety and distance to amenities.

Considering a home’s neighborhood is also important in determining its resale value should the home buyer want to sell the home in the future. Working with a realtor can make finding a suitable home simpler, as a good realtor can make recommendations on homes or explain the home buying process.

How to Find a Place to Rent

Finding a place to rent looks similar to searching for a home to buy, but there are different considerations to make when searching for an apartment. Even though apartment leases are short-term, it is still important to choose an apartment that is affordable and suits your needs. Before searching for apartments in your area, calculate how much you can reasonably spend on rent and utilities. Rent typically should be no more than 25 to 30 percent of your monthly income.

If rents are high in your area, there are some ways to lower your monthly expenses. Having a monthly budget can help you keep track of your finances and might be useful in finding places to save money. Renting in a suburban area or living with a roommate can also help keep the cost of rent down. Begin by searching for an apartment online, but keep in mind that it might also be beneficial to check local listings for private rentals. While renting in an apartment complex might offer the amenities you want, renting from an individual landlord often comes with a lower rent and more space to negotiate.

Choosing an Apartment

Finding and choosing the right apartment can be difficult, especially when you are not sure what you need out of the space. Before making a final decision on a place, it is important to search carefully and look into several rental options. When viewing an apartment, there are certain features and possible issues to consider:

  • Neighborhood – Consider the neighborhood the apartment is in. Does the area fit your lifestyle and suit your needs? Is the rent in the area out of your budget? Is the neighborhood safe?
  • Amenities – Though having the right amenities is not the most important factor in choosing an apartment, it can make a difference. Check with the property manager to find out which amenities are offered on site. Certain amenities, like a washer and dryer, might be important to you. If they are not offered, you may be able to negotiate with the landlord for a better deal.
  • Damages – When viewing the apartment, it is important to take any damage into account and mention it to the property manager. If she or he is unwilling to fix the damages before your lease begins, you may be able to ask for a lower rent or certain amenities in exchange. Keep a record of all the damages found and make sure they are outlined in the lease before signing.
  • Lease – When you have chosen a place, be sure to read the lease before signing it. The lease should clearly state the amenities being offered, previous damages to the apartment, the lease term and price of monthly rent. Make sure you fully understand the terms of the lease and that those terms work for you.

Applying for an Apartment

Once you have found the right apartment, it is time to apply. Though private rentals may not have an application process, most landlords or property management companies do. Filling out the application and necessary paperwork as soon as possible is important in ensuring you get the apartment you want. Apartments can go fast, especially in highly sought-after areas.

Apartment applications typically ask for basic personal info and certain documents, like paystubs, bank statements and a copy of the applicant’s license. Applying for an apartment usually involves a non-refundable application fee, which is lost if the application is rejected.

Once the application is approved, the next step is signing the lease. You may be asked to bring documentation to the lease signing that has not already been provided, as well as a form of payment for the rent and deposit if it has not already been covered. Many landlords and property managers ask for renter’s insurance to be purchased before the lease is signed, so you may be required to bring proof of insurance to the signing. After the lease is signed, it is time to move in and enjoy your new place.

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