Katherine Learns 3 Apartment Hunting Lessons…the Hard Way

Our guest blogger Katherine has a January 25 deadline looming, and she’s getting serious about her hunt for an apartment in LA.

So here I am, finally ready to get my own apartment with that friend whose couch I’ve been sleeping on for near three months. Yup, her lease is nearly up and we’re on the hunt. It’s been a whirlwind month of apartment speed dating that feels a lot like a series of craigslist “missed connections.” Here are three things I wish I’d been more mindful of when I started searching:

1. Always have a back up .
So the story goes a little something like this: my roommate and I were checking out an apartment in our price range, and then noticed a “for rent” sign next door and, as luck would have it, the owner of the building was coming out and kindly offered to give us a preview of the place as it was being cleaned. Fate? I thought so. And wouldn’t you know this place was on the top floor and it just had the cutest breakfast nook table thing AND a secret extra room that would make the most adorable home office. And two car parking!

Oh, and did I mention it was about $150 out of our price range? But it was perfect. So perfect that we scheduled a second viewing with the manager after it was cleaned. We talked him down to $50 less a month and pretty much decided this was it. This was the dream. Somehow we would come up with that extra $100 a month. There was only one catch: he wanted us to move in by the 15th of December. We couldn’t move in until the 1st of January. But we were confident. I mean, no one would move in over the holidays, anyway. Could he hold it for us we pleaded? He said he couldn’t commit. And we somehow interpreted that to mean yes. We called again closer to the 15th to see if we could swing by one more time. Obviously we wanted to measure the rooms. In the wake of the discovery of this architectural gem we became a little lazy about looking at other options. So when we called and found out that some MAN had rented OUR apartment, we were a shocked. Dismayed. Forlorn. So now we’re back to square one, and it sucks. We didn’t have a back up because we thought this apartment was a sure thing. A reminder everyone: you don’t have it until you sign the lease. Remember that.

2. Know your credit score.
Another thing that has come up as we get serious about renting an apartment is our credit scores. Yes, I know, thinking about that might make you feel like the room got a tad bit hotter but it’s an important thing to know. It will be on every application that you need to fill out and is a huge deciding factor for whether you’re approved for the apartment or not. A lot of managers and owners asked us ours immediately when we expressed interest and I know if I had known mine and been able to say it right then and there, we would have been more attractive candidates. I have good credit so that helps me out a lot. But if you don’t, you’ll probably have to have a guarantor (usually your parents) anyway so mention that you have one up front.

It’s simply smart to find out your credit score as you start your hunt. Being able to tell that to the apartment manager right away makes you sound more financially aware and more attractive as a potential tenant.

3. Bring measuring tape.
It sounds simple. It is simple. So why did it take me 13 apartment visits to figure it out? Frequently when you are searching for an apartment with more than one bedroom like I am the rooms are different sizes. Which is fine. Working out who gets what room is another issue. But if you are like my roommate and me, you already know who’s got the smaller room and who’s got the bigger one. But what you don’t know is if that broom closet of a room can fit your bed AND your drum set. So you’ll have to measure it. Hence, the measuring tape. And if you think the manager will know this information off hand, good luck and Godspeed.

Our progress update: And the hunt still continues! January 25th is our deadline so we’re really going to have to put the pedal to the metal and find our perfect place soon. I know it’s out there, just like Prince Charming…

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Comments (3)

  1. Avatar movers Nebraska

    As they say, experience is the best teacher! These advices you have shared are definitely very helpful especially that the demand for apartments is growing and so is the competition. Again, thank you for sharing this post.

  2. Avatar KT

    I didn’t know you could negoiate how much you could pay per month. How about an article on tips for doing this?

  3. Avatar Mindy Sharp

    I keep a measuring tape in the Leasing Office so Prospects don’t have to worry about remembering to bring one. It is too difficult to remember everything. Sorry to hear you missed that great apartment. I always remind Prospective Residents that this is the game of real estate and it moves very quickly. That is also why we update people by email often so they don’t miss out! (However, I wonder – WOULD you have moved in by the 15th of you knew you would miss out on that apartment????) Good Luck!