How To Find (And Get Approved For) The Perfect Apartment

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In a tight housing market, in which you might have to jump through what seems like dozens of hoops just to pay thousands of dollars every month for an apartment filled with roaches, sometimes it might seem easier to buy. If you need to move quickly, or if you aren’t sure how long you’ll be living in your new home, renting is a far better way to go. So, what are the ins and outs of finding a good rental for a reasonable price?

Searching for a rental is a lot like searching for a property to purchase. You could argue that when you are renting, you can probably compromise a bit more, since you won’t be living there long. On the other hand, when you buy, you have the opportunity to make changes you probably wouldn’t be able to do in a rental. Either way, you’re likely going to have to compromise, but here’s how you can get most of what you want:

Make a Priorities List

Do you need two bedrooms/two bathrooms? Do you have pets? Do you want to be close to work, or to your favorite coffee shop, or your gym? Do you want a fully renovated place, or a place with vintage charm? Write down absolutely everything you want in an apartment. Then write down how much you can afford.

Edit the List

Now that you’ve made the list, and you’ve seen that everything you want is a bit out of your price range, edit the list. Can you survive with one bedroom, or at least one bathroom? Is an extra 20 minutes on your commute really a deal breaker? Is there a cool coffee shop somewhere else? How about a half renovated apartment?

Consider Hiring a Broker

While Craigslist and Facebook still have apartment listings, the best apartments often go through brokers. For that, you might need to fork out some extra cash.

Pull Your Credit Report

Most landlords now require a credit report. The good news is that most landlords aren’t as stringent as mortgage companies. Evictions are generally a deal breaker, but late credit card payments might not be. In tight markets, though, like here in California, landlords might require better credit scores. Regardless, it’s best to approach your apartment search knowing what any perspective landlord might find. If you explain your situation, they might cut you some slack.

Treat a Viewing Like a Job Interview

A suit might be overkill, but you still want to make a good impression. You want to look like someone who pays rent on time and is relatively clean. Today might not be the best time to show off your torn jeans (even if they cost $500) and your vintage Van Halen tee. Be respectful and prepare yourself with some questions.