Apartment Hunting? Here’s What You Should Be Looking For

There are almost 43 million housing units that are rented out in the United States and in early 2012, the renter share of households in the United States went up 35% from 2004. Almost two-fifths of rental properties are single-family homes and another fifth are buildings that have two to four units. It’s clear that renting is becoming an increasingly popular option, especially among younger people moving to cities. Indeed, Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reports that over four million new renters will enter the market over the next decade. Though there are certainly perks to having your own property, renting is often a better option if you’re trying to live within a budget or don’t have the time to really keep up with a home or yard. If you’re a long-term renter, you may be also be able to work out something with the landlord to make your apartment feel more like your own property, in terms of painting walls and landscaping.

What Should I Look For In an Apartment?

Likely one of the first things you want to be paying attention to is how much the rent costs. The usual rule is that you should be spending about 30% of your monthly income on rent, though that isn’t feasible for everyone. In that case, you should try to find the place that best fits your actual needs that also works in your budget. You may not be able to afford a luxury apartment, but if the building is clean and well-maintained, with no infestations (or recent history of any), in a safe location, and is easily accessible to public transportation (or has a parking spot, if you own a car), that’s a pretty good apartment!

Over half of residents also checked connectivity for their cell phones when they took a tour of an apartment. Almost 100% say that good reception is important but under 70% say they actually have good coverage.

Another small thing to consider is how bills are paid. Does the landlord bill utilities into your overall rent each month? Are you responsible for setting them up and paying them yourself, like you would with your own property? Can you pay rent online? Almost 80% of renters said they preferred online payment and almost 65% were interested in paying online with a credit card.

What Kinds of Apartments are Available?

There are certainly many different kinds of apartments available, and your preference will depend on what you want your own property to look like. There are luxury apartments, furnished apartments, condos, single-family homes broken into apartments, and buildings with apartment units, some high-rise, some low-rise.

Luxury and furnished apartments and condos are likely to be more expensive, though they’ll also likely be in a very good and convenient area, and if you have the money to afford one, they can be a good family-friendly option.

The other types of apartments are often more affordable and more and more landlords are remodeling old apartments to make them more attractive to new renters.

What Should I Know About Lease With an Option to Buy?

This is a type of rental agreement that can apply both to residential and commercial real estate. Essentially, the landlord and renter agree that after a certain amount of time renting one property, the renter will be given the option to buy it. This is great for people who are thinking about purchasing a home, but aren’t quite sure they want to lock in just yet, or if they have a bad credit history. It gives them time to rebuild their equity and build a relationship with their landlord to show that they could follow through on payments.

You should always do a thorough inspection of the home and yard, research if there are any liens against the property, and make sure an exit clause is well-defined. When in doubt, bring in an expert to help you read through the contract.

For a renter, the world is your oyster! There are more options than ever before and something to fit every budget.

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