Browsing apartment listings online can make the process of finding your next rental easier to manage. You can search numerous options within the span a few moments and gain an accurate understanding of what the home will look like. However, using the internet as a tool to look for apartments can is deceptively easy. If you are unsure of how to conduct your search, you may not be able to find the right apartments for your needs.
Internet apartment listings can often be misleading, and learning ways to identify false information or scams prior to contacting a potential landlord will save you from an array of troublesome situations moving forward. The following tips will provide you with useful tools as you browse apartment listings online.
Create a List of What You Want Before Beginning Your Search
The first step toward finding your new apartment is to first establish a list of what you want in your next home. Online apartment listings are only effective if you know what filters to apply to your search before you begin browsing through available options.
For example, you do not want to waste time looking through two-bedroom apartment listings when you are only looking for a studio. Narrowing down your field of reference will allow you to remain focused throughout the search process.
By compiling a list of amenities and necessities you are looking for, you will significantly reduce the amount of time you spend browsing apartment listings online. The less time you spend looking, the more time you can spend submitting your application and securing the best apartment for you.
Other factors you may want to consider when creating your list are:
- Whether or not you intend to have roommates.
- Which floor you would prefer to live on.
- How much you are willing to spend for the right place.
- If you need an apartment with accessible features.
- What neighborhood you want to live in.
Once you have established the parameters for what you want in an apartment, you can begin to search through online listings more quickly and efficiently than if you were to approach the situation with a blank slate.
When searching for a new apartment, one of the best skills you can develop is how to identify a scam. Many landlords or individuals posing as landlords use online apartment listings to trick potential renters into providing personal information or even paying for an apartment they will not be able to move into.
To protect yourself from a potential scam, you will need to be diligent and mindful when responding to available apartment listings. Do not provide someone with your Social Security Number, credit report or bank information until you have met him or her in person and have toured the property you are interested in. Verifying the identity of the landlord in advance will help you to avoid a difficult situation if you mistakenly fall victim to an apartment scam.
There are factors within the online apartment listing that should alert you to the possibility of a scam occurring. If the potential landlord is rushing through the application process, this may be an indication the landlord is not who he or she claims to be. Additionally, if you feel as though an apartment option is too good to be true or if you feel as though something is wrong with the listing or application, it may be in your best interest to walk away from the situation.
While you may be tempted to wait and see if the situation improves, this will only put you at a higher risk of falling for the scam. Your online apartment search can be conducted more effectively if you are actively taking note of disreputable listings and forgoing these options in favor of pursuing a more secure listing. Often. you can type in the name of the apartment and the word “scam” into a search engine and if there have been reported issues they will show up.
Understanding the Map Feature
Many apartment listings online will have a map feature indicating where the property is located within the city or town where you are conducting your search. Understanding this map feature will help you to sort through your options more efficiently as you will be able to focus on targeted areas that are most appealing to you.
If you found an apartment you are interested in and use the map feature only to find out it is in a bad neighborhood, you are saving yourself time by abandoning this option for something better. The less time you spend contacting apartments that will not meet your needs, the more time you can spend browsing for apartments that may be right for you.
How can you judge a neighborhood and tell whether it is good or bad? One popular way is to check out a neighborhood’s crime statistics. There are a number of free services online that will allow you to plug in the area code or other parameters and it will let you know how many times the police have been called to a specific ZIP code within the last month. This is very useful information to know before you fall in love with an apartment.
The map feature attached to an online apartment listing can also help you to visualize the distance between a potential rental and your place of work, gym or favorite coffee shop. Determining in advance how far from work you will be at a specific apartment will help you to decide whether this option is worth applying for. If you want to find a centrally located apartment where you will be able to walk to the library, you can use the map to eliminate options outside of your desired area.
While the process of mapping out the distance between an apartment and other amenities you enjoy can be time consuming, it will ultimately save you time when you begin the process of applying for a new place. When you established an understanding of the neighborhood you will be moving into and the nearby amenities, you are preparing yourself for what life will be like after you move in. This can help you to narrow your search more effectively, as you will gain perspective on what is important to you and what is attainable in your preferred location.
Key Words in Listings and What They Mean
Sometimes, a listing may alert you to a potential red flag not because of what it includes but because of what it lacks. For example, if the listing or the apartment website does not mention emergency maintenance, you should make sure to ask the landlord about it. If your heater breaks in the middle of winter, for example, you will want to have it repaired as soon as possible.
The words “recently upgraded” or “renovated” should cause you some pause. While it is nice that you will be receiving something new, the question is, “Why did it need to be replaced?” You should pay attention to how old the apartment building is and consider what other features and amenities are likely to be outdated and in need of repair.
Other terms that may be a cause for further inquiry include “cozy,” “quaint” and “historic.”