From last week’s post, I talked about a simple way to start the apartment hunt. The real message in last week’s post was you’re shopping for a home, not a pair of jeans. Make sure you know what you need to call a place home before you start interviewing.
Once you have identified what you need, want, and can’t stand, it’s time to start finding communities to interview.
STEP 2: Gathering Information of Apartment Communities
Finding apartment communities can be challenging; this is an understatement. The
property management world has been rather slow to adopt and take advantage of technology – I learned this recently when I entered this world. While we are slowly catching up, there are still hurdles in the industry.
Doing some online research is great and efficient but if you limit your search to only online information, you’ll be missing out on half of the communities out there. Here’s why:
- Well managed, affordable apartment communities don’t have much of an online presence because they’re always full.
- Many communities are still owner-managed meaning it is normally a husband-wife (or similar) team doing everything from the leasing to the maintenance. There is just a lack of resources to create websites to feature these properties.
- Small communities likely
will have less online advertising because their size doesn’t justify the cost to setup a website.
So understand that you’re going to have to get on a phone, get in your car, hop on your bike, or buy a bus ticket to gather your information.
Before you start gathering information, make yourself a spreadsheet to keep yourself organized. You can use the one here (ApartmentInterviewMatrix) or make your own.
Your depth of research is going to depend on a few items, the first is how willing you are. But urgency to move and availability of apartments for rent are going to determine a lot of what you are able to compile. You may need to skip a lot of your background research to get an apartment you are okay with.
If you are flexible with move in dates, you’ll be able to get on
the waiting list for the community you know you want to be in and end up with (hopefully) a great living situation!
Do as much research as you can online then
switch to the phone. Once you get on the phone, you may find some obstacles. Many smaller communities won’t have someone on staff if they are 100% full and some communities just tell you they are full when you call without giving out much information.
The best way to tackle this is to tell the person on the other end of the phone that you’re gathering information and would possibly like to be on the waiting list. They may be more inclined
to share information knowing that you still fall in the category of ‘potential renter’.
Next week we’ll talk about interviewing you future community. This might sound tedious but can be fun. Remember – you’re SHOPPING for a place to live.